News

Could city tenants get a rent refund?

Tenant advocates say lawsuit blocked four months of rollback

Starting next month, rents on thousands of Mountain View apartments are expected to roll back to 2015 rates as part of the city's sweeping Measure V rent control law.

But tenants could soon be making the case that they deserve some compensation for the months that the measure was delayed by an ongoing lawsuit.

Attorneys for the Mountain View Tenants Coalition say they are researching whether a legal case can be made that tenants should be paid back some of their rent going back as far as December. But sorting out this question could take months and possibly more litigation for a matter already being fought in the courts.

"There's a possibility that tenants may be entitled to some recoupment between the effective date of Measure V," said Juliet Brodie, an attorney who co-authored the measure. "The question is: What is the effective date of Measure V?"

This is no small question. With about 15,000 apartments qualifying for the rent rollback, it is likely that millions of dollars are at stake depending on how Measure V's language is interpreted.

After Mountain View voters approved Measure V in November, the new law was set to take effect on Dec. 23. Besides imposing just-cause eviction policies and capping rent increases, Measure V included a provision to rewind apartment rents back to whatever tenants were paying in October 2015.

That effort was abruptly halted Dec. 22, when the California Apartment Association obtained a temporary restraining order as part of its lawsuit against the measure.

The rent control measure remained in limbo until two weeks ago, when Judge William Elfving denied a request to continue blocking Measure V until the lawsuit is concluded. He ordered that the rent control law should take effect immediately.

Based on that direction, city officials said they would implement the law with April 6 as the effective date. For tenants who already paid rent for April, that means the rent rollback won't start until May.

So far, city officials have taken a somewhat hands-off approach to Measure V, looking to tenants and landlords to sort out the specifics among themselves. They say enforcement won't come at least until next month, when the city's Rental Housing Committee is in place and begins implementing the measure's policies.

Now that the measure has been given the green light, tenant advocates say they are poring over the language of Measure V to see if renters can recoup the difference between the rent they paid in October 2015 and their current rents for the four months since January.

Brodie told the Voice that Measure V explicitly states that its effective date is "ten days after the vote is declared by the City Council." That would make it Dec. 23, she said.

With a different read on the measure, California Apartment Association spokesman Joshua Howard said landlords shouldn't have any obligation to repay past rent.

"There is nothing in Measure V that requires the refunding of rents lawfully collected prior to its effective date," he wrote in an email. "We have not identified any legal mandate."

This matter could be resolved by the Rental Housing Committee or possibly through a civil lawsuit, Brodie said.

Asked about this, City Attorney Jannie Quinn said Mountain View officials were not taking any position, for now at least.

"I think it's fair to say there's a number of issues that will need to be determined," she said. "Tenants can decide on their own if they want to pursue that through the court process."

Comments

24 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm

I need a bit of legal analysis here. Doesn't requiring landlords to refund rents that they legally collected make this an "illegal taking" because it's the result of an ex post facto law? Last time I checked, ex post facto laws are banned by the US Constitution.


13 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:03 pm

The CAA lawsuit remains unresolved. The judicial order that expired April 5 delayed Measure V's date of effect (that was Juliet Brodie's own comment quoted in the Voice story at the time Web Link ). I understand that the judicial intervention probably irrevocably delayed the measure's date of real effect (that has been the interpretation in past cases) -- i.e., no basis for any "refund" of rents already paid. But whether or not it's ultimately decided that way, another issue lurks in the background: If any renters did somehow succeed in getting rent refunded retroactive to Measure V's originally-written effective date, then by the logic of their own action, they'll have set themselves up for a similarly retroactive claw-back of that refunded rent later, by their landlord, should the CAA's lawsuit ultimately prevail. With failure to return the refund becoming solid grounds for eviction (nonpayment of legal rent).

Oh, and get ready for more very long wordy comments from "The Business Man." (As of when I started writing this, no other comments had yet appeared to this story; but that has been the trend lately.)


1 person likes this
Posted by local
a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Does the rollback apply to people who have leases?


Like this comment
Posted by Thanks MVTC!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Learn how to get the rent rollback here: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Thanks MVTC!
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Yes, the rollback applies if you signed a new lease. Landlords can't make you sign away your rights like that.


Learn how to get the rent rollback here: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 20, 2017 at 6:38 pm

As the article explains, the matter needs to be explored. What we can now see is that City Attorney Jannie Quinn's stipulation to the TRO in December made the landlords of 15,000 rental units richer. How much richer? If the average rent level in October 2015 was $250 less per month, in four months the average renting household lost $1,000 thanks to the TR0. Times 15,000 renta units is $15 million.


90 people like this
Posted by hee hee
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 20, 2017 at 7:34 pm

rubbing hands with glee and anticipation. How much more can we screw those nasty mean landlords?


17 people like this
Posted by @hee hee
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm

I hope you're being sarcastic. If you're a renter, without a landlord you wouldn't have your current roof over your head. They're not all evil. Maybe 1% but most are just trying to make a living and it's not really an easy or fun job!


68 people like this
Posted by curios george
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Apr 20, 2017 at 9:33 pm

I am curious to see how this mob rule plays in the supreme court. Can we now vote to roll back wages and pensions of public safety and city manager, and the city attorney as I think they extort too much from the coffers robbing many other services?


2 people like this
Posted by Prem lata
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 20, 2017 at 9:52 pm

I was living at 505 shorline village apartments .They was rasing my rent every six months oup to 200 to 400 . They raise my rent 1900 to 2250 and 2250 to 2600 it was too much rent hardly we have to move from there . I really appreciate if we can get some amount money back.


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:26 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

I am going to try to keep this one short and sweet.

I have already prepared a legal complaint to be filed against my landlord for the rent rollback that is STILL required from December 23rd to today. However, my plans are to work with Juliet Brodie and her team to make sure I have done my homework correctly before I start the litigation.

The FACTS are this:

There was NO COURT ORDER MODIFYING the CSFRA enforcement date.

The City Council Certified the Election on December 13th, 2016.

In the CSFRA, Section 1720 stated the CSFRA is IN EFFECT 10 days after the City Council Certification.

There is NO CALIFORNIA STATUTE declaring that a TRO remains in effect once it is lifted by the court.

There is NO CASE PRECENDENCE to establish that a TRO remains in effect once it is lifted by the court.

The tenants cannot be held monetarily liable for the unfortunate actions made by the City of Mountain View City Attorney when SHE stipulated to the TRO. The court decision on April 5 established that if the court had heard the case regarding the TRO, the court would have rejected it. The City Attorney simply interfered with that judicial review by stipulating.

The Citizens only got proper legal representation in the case after the motion to intervene. The Court made a decision based on the fact that the Citizens of Mountain View were NOT being represented by the City Attorney.

If that intervention had NOT OCCURRED, the City Attorney was likely to continue to monetarily penalize the tenants for HER actions by not adequately arguing that the preliminary injunction was NOT JUSTIFIED.

The fact is that the City Attorney was in effect criticized by the court when issuing the intervention.

The Court has simply restored the CSFRA in its entirety, not order was made to in effect prevent a retroactive refund for rents paid during the TRO issuance.

Thus, the citizens should file complaints to the court for compensation because they cannot bear the burden of errors made by those in the City of Mountain View.

The Citizens have the right to argue their case, and it is likely that the court will order refunds based on the facts above. The Court simply must allow the CSFRA to be enforced, even though it was impermissibly delayed by the CAA and errors made by the City of Mountain View, when the TRO was STIPULATED.


4 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:40 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
9 hours ago

I need a bit of legal analysis here. Doesn't requiring landlords to refund rents that they legally collected make this an "illegal taking" because it's the result of an ex post facto law? Last time I checked, ex post facto laws are banned by the US Constitution.

As far as this argument goes, that prohibition only applies to criminal acts, please read the following:

ex post facto

adj. LATIN FOR "AFTER THE FACT," WHICH REFERS TO LAWS ADOPTED AFTER AN ACT IS COMMITTED MAKING IT ILLEGAL ALTHOUGH IT WAS LEGALWHEN DONE, OR INCREASES THE PENALTY FOR A CRIME AFTER IT IS COMMITTED. Such laws are specifically prohibited by the U. S.Constitution, Article I, Section 9. Therefore, if a state legislature or Congress enact NEW RULES OF PROOF OR LONGER SENTENCES,THOSE NEW RULES OR SENTENCES DO NOT APPLY TO CRIMES COMMITTED BEFORE THE NEW LAW WAS ADOPTED.( Web Link)

Also :

United States[edit]

In the United States, the Congress is prohibited from passing ex post facto laws by clause 3 of Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution. The states are prohibited from passing ex post facto laws by clause 1 of Article I, Section 10. This is one of the relatively few restrictions that the United States Constitution made to both the power of the federal and state governments before the Fourteenth Amendment. OVER THE YEARS, WHEN DECIDING EX POST FACTO CASES, THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT HAS REFERRED REPEATEDLY TO ITS RULING IN CALDER V. BULL, IN WHICH JUSTICE SAMUEL CHASE HELD THAT THE PROHIBITION APPLIED ONLY TO CRIMINAL MATTERS, NOT CIVIL MATTERS, AND ESTABLISHED FOUR CATEGORIES OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL EX POST FACTO LAWS.[20] The case dealt with the Article I, Section 10, prohibition on ex post facto laws, because it concerned a Connecticut state law.( Web Link)

Specifically:

Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386 (1798),[1] is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court decided four important points of constitutional law.

FIRST, THE EX POST FACTO CLAUSE OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION ONLY APPLIES TO CRIMINAL LAWS THAT HAVE AT LEAST ONE OF FOUR EFFECTS: "1st. Every law that makes an action done before the passing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal; and punishes such action. 2nd. Every law that aggravates a crime, makes it greater than it was, when committed. 3rd. Every law that changes the punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment, than the law annexed to the crime, when committed. 4th. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less, or different, testimony, than the law required at the time of the commission of the offence, in order to convict the offender."[1] The decision restates this later as laws "that create, or aggregate, the crime; or encrease(sic) the punishment, or change the rules of evidence, for the purpose of conviction." (italics in original)[1]( Web Link)

Civil law and economic policies are retroactive by nature and are specifically NOT prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. Rent control is not a criminal statute, it is a government established contract regulation. Thus Ex Post Facto would not apply in this case.

So if anyone tries to claim that the Ex Post Facto rule applies here, that is their opinion, but the previous SCOTUS case clearly does not agree with that opinion.


28 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Does Ms Juliet Brodie and the other artorneys pushing this measure actually live in Mountain View? Are they going to be able to personally feel the negative effects of this law, willing to sacrifice with the rest of us, or are they sitting nicely back in their homes in Palo Alto or Menlo Park (cities which have done nothing to stabilize rents and even refuse to build more housing) patting themselves on the back that they've been able to force someone else to suffer so that THEY can feel good about themselves?

If they believe in their cause so much then I expect them to live in it too.


5 people like this
Posted by ambulance chaser
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm

This sounds like a class action litigation for 15 million + for lost wages vs. Ms. Juliet Brodie and camp could be in order!


2 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2017 at 7:08 am

The Business Man is a registered user.

"Posted by ambulance chaser
a resident of Castro City
9 hours ago

This sounds like a class action litigation for 15 million + for lost wages vs. Ms. Juliet Brodie and camp could be in order!"

That complaint would need to wait until the courts have decided that the CSFRA was NOT CONSTITUTIONAL. Otherwise filing that kind of law suit would be dismissed because this refund problem is a public policy and not one of a private act.

Trying to hold Ms. Juliet Brodie and camp responsible for a public policy is impossible. The only defendant you could seek remedy is the City of Mountain View at this time. Since the policy is in the City Charter.

However, since I am seeking only advice but filing on my own regarding a refund, and given that I am of fairly little, if any wealth, it will be like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. Your hand will only wind up bloody.

The simple “Truth” is that at this time, the CSFRA does entitle refunds because the actions of the City Attorney in the TRO stipulation was contrary to the interests of the Citizens of Mountain View. And any attempt to SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) would be pointless, since the “Camp” is protected under the 1st amendment.


5 people like this
Posted by the immovable rock and the irresistible force
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 22, 2017 at 4:14 pm

When the renters went to city council, the landlords said "nothing is wrong".

When the renters showed the human cost, they said, "nothing should be done".

When the city council did nothing, they said, "nothing can be done",

When the renters started collecting signatures, "nothing will happen",

When the voters qualified Measure V, "we will make sure nothing happens"

When the city council put measure w on the ballot, "we will confuse the voters so nothing happens",

When Measure V passed, "we will obstruct so that nothing happens",

When Measure V had the TRO, "we can ensure that nothing will happen"

When the judge lifted the TRO ..... "everything happened"

Now I know what happens when an immovable rock encounters an irresistible force - the rock is moved.


2 people like this
Posted by to @ Curious
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm

> Does Ms Juliet Brodie and the other artorneys [sic] pushing this measure actually live in Mountain View?

...Its not a measure ... it's the LAW.

> willing to sacrifice with the rest of us

I don't know your religion, if any .. but for me this is my guiding light: Web Link Matthew 25:32-46 ... I am totally not perfect, and I am sure if you knew me personally you would find plenty of examples of me failing. But at least for me and my family, personally, yes we are willing to sacrifice.


18 people like this
Posted by USA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2017 at 2:59 pm

USA is a registered user.

I cannot afford to live in Los Altos. Who can I sue to force landlords and home sellers to reduce their prices?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm

@ The business man
Define keeping it short , cuz your pretty long winded if he asked me .


Like this comment
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

USA,

It is not simple, first you need to have your local, state, or federal government codify a remedy first. Like the HARP program in the federal laws.

You need to lobby your government representatives first to see if they will see a remedy is warranted, like the Mountain View Citizens did for 2 years.

If that fails you go through the process of a ballot initiative. You should contact the groups like the Stanford Law Clinic to get guidance on how to achieve your remedy while preventing any possible problems with existing laws or the State and Fed Constitution.

Once you succeed in getting a public policy that declares your remedy is now the public policy, then you can go to court.

I would probably be one of the first people to support your situation.

The California Real Estate industry has been wrought with problems because of a lack of accountability, especially involving the property appraisal process. There is ABSOLUTELY NO ACCOUNTABILITY because there is no Federal or State laws declaring making a representation that can be proven to a reasonable person as false regarding real estate appraisals.

This has lead to a SYSTEMIC ABUSE of the process.

Thus the real estate market is still existing in an bubble only because they are legally protected.




4 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

Well, it appears that some landlords are aware of the retroactive refund issue regarding the lifting of the TRO. My apartment next door to me issued “rebates” for the overpaid rents from December 23 to May.

I did issue my letter to my landlord, he is “requesting” guidance on the issue as we speak.

My hope is that since no court order froze the TRO in place after it was lifted, this should be the simple truth. That the CSFRA was restored in entirety, and that even though the City Attorney let the plaintiffs have their TRO in December, the fact is the City Attorney cannot hold off the City Charter enforcement until the court issue an order overriding the language of the CSFRA.

Any property attorney should not advise a Mountain View landlord that there is any “grey” area in the law at this time.

Also, I noticed that the plaintiffs in the Mountain View case have become completely inactive. The case has no scheduled hearing at this time. Yes the CAA has not formally withdrawn the case, it appears they are not pursuing any legal processes at this time. Is it possible they know that they have a losing case, but will not withdraw because it would irreparably damage the credibility of the CAA and their Attorney?

This seems to be also occurring in the Contra Costa court regarding Richmond. The CAA is simply not going to publicly concede that its law actions were ill conceived. They are using the inaction to maintain the “active” status of the laws suits, but it is a sign that they really don’t understand how their complaints were never valid, and could never be substantiated in court.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of North Whisman
on May 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Someone did not do their " due diligence " and it is not the renters. I think the CAA and their supporting companies had better settle now rather than later; a judge can tack on interest and penalties to the requested amounts. Especially when foot dragging is seen. The Mountain View attorney can be prosecuted and her license to practice law revoked, like a certain ex-president...


Like this comment
Posted by SAMA
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm

The Business Man, thank you for the updates. If you could post here if you are successful with getting rent refund for Jan-Apr 2017 and the steps you had take, that would be much appreciated.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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