Students’ landlord issues tackled at housing workshop
SF State’s Legal Resource Center tackled problems and concerns regarding living arrangements in San Francisco during its first landlord/tenant workshop Oct. 12.
“This workshop aligns with the mission for our program – to educate, inform and help empower the SF State community,” said Associated Students, Inc. Legal Resource Center Director Kaylin Masis.
Students voiced their concerns and received legal advice from housing attorney Ora Prochovnick, a guest speaker at the event. Every other Friday, Prochovnick provides 30-minute consultations for $10 each to SF State students in need of legal advice regarding their housing situation, Masis said.
During the workshop, Prochovnick addressed common questions that students frequently ask, like how they can be removed from their lease, whether or not their landlord can walk into their home unannounced and if they can be evicted based on noise complaints.
“There are a number of issues with landlords and tenants, noise complaints being the most common,” Prochovnick said. “For example, if you have regular gatherings that bother the neighbors, you can be evicted at anytime. You are open to the risk of eviction, but the landlord must give notice.”
Mark Shields, a business marketing senior, said all of his experiences with landlords in San Francisco have been horrible.
A year ago, Sheild’s landlord made him and the rest of the people living in the house cover an unpaid portion of the security deposit after someone decided not to move into the home.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Shields said. “The landlord refused to help us; she wouldn’t even talk to us about the issue and I had to talk to a lawyer.”
San Francisco Rent Board Supervisor Jennifer Rakowski also explained the Rent Board services available to the SF State community, such as investigation of wrongful evictions, arbitration hearings, mediation and counseling information.
“(The SF Rent Board) is becoming acutely aware of the ongoing housing crisis,” Rakowski said. “The rent control ordinance is trying to ensure tenants have sustainability with their living arrangements.”
The landlord/tenant workshop ended with a question and answer segment. Students asked Rakowski to discuss valid reasons for eviction, which she said include offenses such as not paying rent on time and breaching the leasing agreement.
“It’s not that your landlord can never ask you to leave, you just have to be mindful of these reasons,” Rakowski said.
SF State’s ASI Legal Resource Center has received over 50 calls, emails and drop-by questions this year regarding landlord/tenant issues, which is more than double the requests from last year, according to Masis. She said that, although members of the legal resource team are not lawyers and do not give legal advice, they offer resources and legal information to all students seeking help with their housing arrangements.
“We have noticed a lot of students coming into our office asking the same questions and dealing with the same housing issues,” said Carlos Raiz-Anaya, an office assistant for the center. “We are here for students. We are the first step in helping students know it’s OK.”