New website features worst landlords ever

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Tenants Together, a statewide nonprofit advocating for tenants’ rights, has launched a new website that allows tenants to nominate their landlords as the worst ever in California.

The Landlord Hall of Shame features a listing of landlords who’ve been suggested, officially nominated, or installed by vote into the Hall of Shame. The aim is to spotlight landlords who disrespect tenants' rights, try to force tenants out for their own economic gain, or act in some other egregious way that makes life miserable for a renter. While none of them will be dubbed Hall of Shamers until December, a couple of official nominees already sound like tough contenders.

One of them is David Taran of Page Mill Properties, who has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with Tenants Together after imposing exorbitant rent hikes in an effort to force tenants out of a rent-controlled housing complex in East Palo Alto.

The purpose of the website is two-fold, according to Dean Preston, executive director of Tenants Together. It can be a deterrent to landlord misconduct, but it can also help the tenant advocacy group gather information about problem landlords.

“There are a lot of bad landlords out there that get away with doing the same thing over and over again,” Preston said, “Because no one knows that they did it before. A lot of landlords operate in multiple communities, so people in one city may not necessarily know what they’ve done in another city.”

Preston said that Tenants Together expects to nominate a couple landlords every month. Official nominees are those that the group has researched and found that “their conduct has risen to the level where we should call them out publicly,” he added.

On the list of suggested nominees is Laramar SF, a property management company that has taken over management in many San Francisco properties formerly controlled by Skyline Realty or CitiApartments. The Hall of Shame website is sure to note that if some one has been suggested as a nominee, it’s “not an indication that they have done anything wrong or are bad landlords.” But if tenants visiting the site wish to share comments about their experience with a nominated landlord or add a new one to the roster, they can simply fill out an online form.

“We think this really has the potential to make some landlords think twice about abusing their tenants,” Preston said. “It will make bad landlords realize that there is a spotlight on them.”