Topics that matter. Insights with impact.

I have generated reams of content that has been recycled in the media and trade groups. I've put together a hodgepodge of work here that can serve as a representative sample, but I hasten to say my creative talents can be applied to any project.


Immigration law has become a combustible subject lately and while all politics are local, some are more local than others. The Bay Area has become a microcosm of weighty immigration issues that have recently stirred up a lot of soul searching and widespread national debate.

Our role at Bornstein Law is not to legislate or get mired into policy, but to educate the rental housing industry on legal issues that impact their business and to prepare for any anticipated changes in the law.

Multi-unit Properties Face Complicated New Regulations

As of last month, "qualified non-profits" will have the first crack at multi-unit buildings in the City of San Francisco. When owners intend to sell their multifamily residential property, a vetted pool of organizations will be the first to come to the trough, courtesy of COPA. 

Before you start singing the hymns of Barry Manilow's Copacabana, we are referring to the City's newly minted Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, a law aimed to give preferential treatment to non-profits committed to preserving the City's affordable stock by providing these entities the first chance of making an offer to scoop up a residential building with at least three rental units or a vacant lot zoned for at least three rental units.

Is justice delayed, justice denied?

Having served communities in Central New York and Northern Pennsylvania for the better part of four decades, the Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury lawyers at Stanley Law have weathered many storms. We have witnessed firsthand that in the darkest of days, our society shines the brightest and our firm has full confidence that this crisis will be no exception. 

These challenging times are unique, however, because never before has the conveyor belt of the judicial system ground to an almost complete halt. Except for the most essential business and exigent circumstances, courts have gone in the dark. This may be frustrating to many of you who have had trials on the calendar that have been postponed. With many businesses temporarily closing their doors or scaling back operations because of the public health scare, it is with little surprise we have seen a down-tick in workplace injuries. This comes as little solace to a sizable number of people who have suffered a work-related injury or an occupational disease and have been waiting to have their claims and grievances aired out.

Responding to Domestic Strife in Rental Units

It’s been said that home is where the heart is. But what happens when the heart is broken, and an aggressor poses a foreseeable threat to other tenants, or the discord spills into other rental units and interferes with other tenants’ quiet enjoyment of the premises? Clearly, a rental property owner cannot be a social architect or mend broken relationships, but the owner does have certain duties and rights that may not be immediately clear when under the pressure of strife within their dwelling.

When a landlord encounters domestic violence in the property, the law prescribes what can and cannot be done to address this difficult topic and restore harmony to the dwelling.

Expunging or sealing criminal records in New York

People make mistakes and when life happens, most people deserve another chance to bounce back, a sentiment that is embraced in New York Law – society welcomes back all but the worst criminal offenders, but this process is best journeyed with an experienced New York expungement lawyer dedicated to ensuring the collateral damage of a conviction should not haunt you for life.

No one believes more in redemption than someone who has experience on both sides of the courtroom. As a former Broome County Assistant District Attorney, Chris Brown has had an imprint in many convictions of offenders whose crimes were an aberration of their true character.

Airbnb Halloween Massacre Raises Scary Legal Issues

Orinda was ranked one of “America’s friendliest towns” by Forbes and hasn’t recorded a homicide in nearly a decade, and so this posh community was an unlikely place for a mass shooting in a short-term rental.

While Airbnb advertises its value as helping make sharing easy, enjoyable and safe, it was sheer panic when a quiet Halloween was disturbed as jolted neighbors heard screams and the sound of bullets at a party around 10:50 pm, sadly taking the lives of five young people and injuring several others.

The Halloween horror took place in a spacious home nestled on the hillside at 114 Lucille Way. After the mansion was listed on Airbnb by owner Michael Wang , a Lafayette woman was all too willing to rent this gem, purportedly telling the owner that her asthmatic family needed a dwelling with fresh air to escape wildfire smoke.

When to report a car accident: Answered by a New York Personal Injury Attorney

Like many others in the Southern Tier, we enjoyed the July 4th extravaganza at Highland Park this year and parking spaces were tight. In the exodus after the fireworks, we witnessed a car bump the back end of another parked vehicle ahead that was unoccupied, drawing a reaction from the crowd leaving on foot. Some bystanders were in a stupor, wondering whether to alert the police to the fender bender, since the owner of the damaged vehicle was not there to witness the game of bumper cars. The offender casually drove off into the smoke-filled horizon.

This raises the question of what the law says in terms of reporting an auto accident, and so we’ll offer our perspective from a New York personal injury law firm.

The difficult prospect of evicting a relative

With the holiday season nearing, the traditional images conjured are families gathering to feast and enjoy quality time together, yet we all know that not all families are so harmonious. When conflicts reach a boiling point with family members living in close quarters, the status quo may no longer be sustainable.

Transitioning relatives out of a property can clearly be a gut-wrenching decision that many families face, and with the rising rate of adult children living with their parents and a growing number of multigenerational households, these tortuous decisions are being made with greater frequency.

Ever upward. Out of many, one.

In an earlier post on court closures, we said that courts are only open for “essential” business, but find solace knowing this hardship will pass. When the conveyor belt of justice starts back up, we will have newfound admiration for the state flag in the courtroom. An obscure but powerful latin phrase has been added to the Coat of Arms on the seal of the state. In case history buffs are wondering, the flag has not been changed since the 1800’s.

Aside from the Excelsior we are used to seeing – latin for “always upward,” the term “e pluribus unum” is now emblazoned underneath. Translation: out of many, one. When you marry them, it is ever upward, out of many, one. Governor Cuomo has sometimes salted his daily coronavirus updates with these words, with good reason – these timeless principles are even more relevant in a time of crisis.

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Many thousands of owners, property managers, and real estate professionals rely on my weekly email broadcasts to keep abreast of news and insights germane to the rental property industry. Here's but a few examples.

Landlords should not enter rental units just because they can

Remember the funny and endearing Three’s Company sitcom? We were always amused to see the landlords, Ralph Furley or Stanley Romper, trample in and out of Jack’s apartment with impunity, oftentimes causing their tenants to scramble in embarrassing moments. Since then, times have changed.

California recognizes the tenant’s right to “quiet enjoyment” of the premises, which means landlords cannot show up unannounced like Ralph Furley or Stanley Romper. Of course, the law also recognizes the owner’s right to access the unit, but only under limited circumstances which are delineated in Civil code 1954.

Certificates of Relief from Disabilities & Certificates of Good Conduct

In our last post, we noted that if your New York criminal record is holding you back, Chris Brown Law may be able to help “seal” your record, meaning it is not viewable in the public domain. Under § 160.59 of New York’s Criminal Procedure Law, sealing is available for misdemeanors and all but the most serious felonies.

If offenders are not eligible for the sealing of conviction records or if the court denies your petition in its wide discretion, all is not lost. Relief is more widely available in the New York Correction Law, which aims to “reduce the automatic rejection and community isolation that often accompany conviction of crimes” and “encourage licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.”

Sexual Harassment Trickles Down to Rental Housing Industry

As heavy consumers of Bay Area housing news, we came across this article chronicling the plight of Cindy Chau, a tenant who thought she found a gem in a $1,200 a month apartment in pricey San Francisco. The bargain came with a caveat not included in the lease – lewd text messages and sexual entreaties. However disturbed we were by this occurrence at Bornstein Law, we were encouraged that the little-spoken about issue of sexual harassment within rental units was brought to light.

It’s difficult to turn a hashtag campaign into long-lasting change, but in short order, the #MeToo movement has upended the landscape of a number of industries, exposing sexual harassment where it has reared its ugly head. Whether in the hallowed halls of the Capitol, California’s technology sector, the good ole’ boy network of the entertainment industry, and just about every other facet of society, this issue has been in the forefront.

The legal saga of Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms has been anything but transitory, but it seems that things are settling down and order is being restored. September 14 sets a milestone in the storied history of Airbnb with its hometown city.

That was the drop-dead deadline for Airbnb and other modern-day iterations of the temporary flop to bring their platforms up to compliance with the San Francisco Office of Short Term Rentals (OSTR). And this time, the City was not kidding.

Using unlicensed contractors a roulette wheel for landlords

In our many years of managing the real estate investments of our clients, Bay Property Group has forged longlasting relationships with a variety of contractors. While we painstakingly vet the home improvement professionals we hire to keep your property in good condition, from time time, Murphy’s law sets in.

Just a couple weeks ago, a pipe burst on what was considered a standard job, and this spilled into a neighboring unit. The event was unfortunate, but since the contractor was licensed and bonded, the insurance company funded brand-new plumbing fixtures in both units. Although the mishap was certainly an irritant, it was not catastrophic.

Have things just worked out just fine before? Don’t count on your good fortune to continue. Accidents are unintentional — that is why they are called accidents.

IN DEPTH
Handling tenant hoarding

We commend the San Francisco Task Force on Compulsive Hoarding for taking on an important issue that takes a toll on people who hoard, their family and friends, as well as neighbors and numerous public and private health and safety departments and agencies.

Those of you in the rental housing industry should respond to this illness with compassion and make every effort to elicit the help of professionals and exhaust all available outlets to rectify the situation.

We remind landlords that hoarding behavior may trigger federal and state disability laws, and tenants' attorneys will likely ask for a "reasonable accommodation" in an unlawful detainer action.

Selling other assets with a successful estate sale

One of the challenges to liquidating the estate home is the process of readying it to show to potential buyers. Over the course of a lifetime, people accumulate a wide range of assets, items and belongings that mirror their unique being.

To everyone else, it is just “stuff," but for a grieving grieving family, they are gems. It is difficult to part with your loved ones possessions, and deciding what should be kept and what should be sold can be a paralyzing experience.