Like everyone else, the Oakland real estate attorneys at Bornstein Law were deeply saddened by Oakland’s deadliest fire on December 2, 2016, and clearly, this brings up a whole range of issues for landlords in the bay area.

This tragedy came as Oakland’s “Safe Housing Inspection Program” was being concluded. The initiative was spawned to avoid the same type of dangerous living conditions that were present in the warehouse inferno.
This pilot program exposed an endemic problem of fire hazards and habitability issues that put tenants at risk. The number of violations and severity of problems, coupled with even more fire deaths and renewed focus on lead poising in Oakland’s poorest quarters, has prompted some to call for a proactive approach that involves deploying inspection teams that essentially, identify problems before they happen. Aside from the sheer cost of implementing that proposal, there is some concern for tenant displacement, as some landlords can foreseeably ask their renters to leave as repairs are made. It also would necessitate changes in Oakland laws do give inspectors the proper authority to examine apartments without permission.
Public officials and others have appropriately assigned blame to landlords in instances where their property is perilous. Our hard-won experience at Bornstein Law, however, has exposed multiple shades of grey.

With proper counsel, habitability issues can be avoided and resolved, rectified and liabilities reduced.

The law is very clear that your rental property need not be a palace, but at the risk of oversimplification, it must be safe, sanitary and secure. Clearly, whether your unit(s) are inhabitable depend on your unique circumstances that are best reviewed by a competent real estate attorney at Bornstein Law.
In parting thoughts, we understand the frustration of landlords that have made every effort to protect, maintain and beautify their investment, only to have tenants that do not share the same level of respect for the dwelling.
At Bornstein Law, we take a balanced approach that acknowledges both the responsibility of the property owner and the tenants that occupy the property. Therefore, we encourage our clients to take measures to ensure that the tenants are meeting their expectations, even as you diligently live up to yours.
What legal and tactful measures you as a property owner can take to preserve your rental property’s condition raises an altogether new set of legal issues that goes beyond the scope of this blog, but suffice it to say these weighty topics are best journeyed with Bornstein Law.
In light of the Oakland fire tragedy, this is scary stuff, folks, and you need a competent Oakland real estate attorney to make sense of it.


As the founding attorney of Bornstein Law, Broker of Record for Bay Property Group and expert witness, Daniel Bornstein is a foremost and well-respected expert in landlord-tenant disputes and other property management issues with over 23 years of experience in handling real estate and civil litigation related disputes.



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