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And you thought you had a landlord from hell. Count your lucky stars that you didn't have ex-San Francisco landlords Kip and Nicole Macy. The couple, dubbed by prosecutors as "landlords from hell," pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes, including stalking and burglarizing their tenants, reports the Associated Press.
The pair wanted to evict their tenants from an apartment building in the city's South of Market neighborhood, so that they could raise rent.
Their case is a reminder that you have tenant rights and shouldn't be afraid to protect them. Here's a rundown of what these landlords did wrong:
When a landlord interferes with a tenant's use of the property to the point where it becomes uninhabitable, the tenant can be considered evicted.
Constructive eviction is unlawful because your landlord typically needs to give you notice of the eviction and get a court order to evict.
In the case of the "landlords from hell," over the course of two years, they cut their tenants' telephone lines; shut off their electricity, gas and water; and prevented access to the utility box, reports the AP.
Depriving tenants of basic things like electricity and water counts as constructive eviction.
Invasion of Privacy
Landlords can't just enter a tenant's apartment for any reason. State laws spell out when landlords can enter. Landlords must usually give tenants reasonable notice before they enter an apartment.
The couple here regularly entered occupied units without notice, cleared apartments of belongings, cut holes in the floor of one victim's living room with a power saw while he was inside his apartment, and committed other serious invasions of privacy that are anything but OK.
Failure to Maintain the Premises
Most landlords owe their tenants a duty to keep the premises habitable. If the landlord refuses to make repairs, the tenant can deduct the cost of repair from their rent.
Landlord Nicole Macy, however, asked a building inspector which beam she would need to cut to make the building structurally unsound in order to "red-tag" the building and order all tenants out, prosecutors said.
Failure to Maintain Safety
In high-crime areas, your landlord may have to take reasonable safety precautions. For example, your landlord may have to reinforce locks, put bars on windows, and install a light in the lobby.
In this case, the tenants needed to be protected from the landlords themselves...
The "landlords from hell" threatened to shoot tenants, changed locks, and reported tenants as trespassers in their own apartments, prosecutors said. In an e-mail, Nicole Macy even pretended to be a tenant, and threatened to kidnap and dismember the tenants' attorneys' children.
District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that the couple's tactics were "so outlandish and brazen that it sounds like the plot line of a horror movie."
I think we've found the landlord version of the classic San Francisco 90s thriller "Pacific Heights."
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.