Mak v. City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Bd.Annotate this Case
Mak owns a Berkeley rental property with four apartments. In 2012 Mak served on Burns, a tenant for 28 years, a 60-day eviction notice, asserting that Mak intended to occupy the apartment. Two months later, Mak and Burns entered a written agreement under which Burns agreed to vacate the apartment, stating that Burns was not doing so pursuant to the 60-day notice, and that such notice “shall upon occupant vacating, be conclusively deemed withdrawn.” Burns vacated the apartment and months later the Maks rented the unit to new tenants (Ziems), at more than double the rent that Burns had paid. In response to Ziems’s application to the Rent Stabilization Board to lower the permissible rent to that paid by Burns, Mak contended that Burns had voluntarily vacated, so that under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, Civil Code 1954.50, the Board was prohibited from limiting the rent at the commencement of the new tenancy. The Board and the trial and appeals courts rejected the “landlord’s transparent attempt to circumvent” rent control. The Act creates a rebuttable presumption that a tenant who moves out within one year of service of an owner move-in eviction notice has moved out pursuant to that notice. Mak failed to present evidence overcoming the presumption.