Welcome to the website of Brian F. Kram, Attorney at Law.

Kram__Brian_F.jpgAs set forth in the following sections, the areas of my professional practice are primarily in Landlord & Tenant Law, Real Estate Law, Business and Contract Law, and Civil Litigation.  I also act as a Mediator and as an Arbitrator.

I look forward to speaking with you to determine if my services are warranted.  Consultations via Zoom are available upon request.  

My office is located at 950 Northgate Drive, Suite 307, San Rafael, CA 94903.  
(415) 507-0707 - bkramlaw@pacbell.net

Please feel free to contact me to review your specific situation.  The information presented at this site should not be construed to be legal advice, nor form the basis of an attorney client relationship. 

During the COVID-19 (Coronaviris) pandemic restrictions, I will be available via email at bkramlaw@pacbell.net, and through telephone and messages to my office at (415) 507-0707.  email may be the more reliable method of communication.


Beginning with Governor Newsom's Declaration of a State of Emergency on March 4, 2020, below are set forth relevant Governmental Orders, Rules and Resolutions relating to landlord/tenant law in California and Marin County which have been issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic; by the State of California, the California Judicial Council, the Marin County Superior Court, and the County of Marin.  Caveat: For complete accuracy, please confirm with original sources, as only some of the Orders, Rules and Resolutions issued by the above entities related to the COVID-19 pandemic are referenced

On August 31, 2020, the State of California passed legislation entitled, COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (Tenant Act).  Reprinted below is a portion of the Legislative Counsel's Digest relating to the Tenant Act.  The legislation also contains provisions entitled, Tenant, Homeowner, and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020.  Provisions unrelated to the Tenant Act are not included:

Existing law provides that a tenant is guilty of unlawful detainer if the tenant continues to possess the property without permission of the landlord after the tenant defaults on rent or fails to perform a condition or covenant of the lease under which the property is held, among other reasons. Existing law requires a tenant be served a 3 days’ notice in writing to cure a default or perform a condition of the lease, or return possession of the property to the landlord, as specified. Existing law, the Mobilehome Residency Law, prohibits a tenancy from being terminated unless specified conditions are met, including that the tenant fails to pay rent, utility charges, or reasonable incidental service charges, and 3 days’ notice in writing is provided to the tenant, as specified.

This bill would, until February 1, 2025, enact the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 (Tenant Act). The Tenant Act would require that any 3 days’ notice that demands payment of COVID-19 rental debt that is served on a tenant during the covered time period meet specified criteria, including that the notice include an unsigned copy of a declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress and that the notice advise the tenant that the tenant will not be evicted for failure to comply with the notice if the tenant delivers a signed declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress to the landlord, as specified. The Tenant Act would define “covered time period” for purposes of these provisions to mean the time between March 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021. The Tenant Act would deem a 3 days’ notice that fails to comply with this criteria void and insufficient to support a judgment for unlawful detainer or to terminate a tenancy under the Mobilehome Residency Law. The Tenant Act would prohibit a tenant that delivers a declaration, under penalty of perjury, of COVID-19-related financial distress pursuant to these provisions from being deemed in default with regard to the COVID-19 rental debt, as specified. By expanding the crime of perjury, this bill would create a state-mandated local program. The Tenant Act would prohibit a court from finding a tenant guilty of an unlawful detainer before February 1, 2021, subject to certain exceptions, including if the tenant was guilty of the unlawful detainer before March 1, 2020. The bill would prohibit, before October 5, 2020, a court from taking specified actions with respect to unlawful detainer actions, including issuing a summons on a complaint for unlawful detainer in any action that seeks possession of residential real property and that is based, in whole or in part, on nonpayment of rent or other charges.

The Tenant Act would also authorize a landlord to require a high-income tenant, as defined, to additionally submit documentation supporting the claim that the tenant has suffered COVID-19-related financial distress if the landlord has proof of income showing the tenant is a high-income tenant.

The Tenant Act would preempt an ordinance, resolution, regulation, or administrative action adopted by a city, county, or city and county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect tenants from eviction based on nonpayment of rental payments, as specified.

The bill would require the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency to, in consultation with the Department of Finance, engage with residential tenants, landlords, property owners, deed-restricted affordable housing providers, and financial sector stakeholders about strategies and approaches to direct potential future federal stimulus funding to most effectively and efficiently provide relief to distressed tenants, landlords, and property owners, as specified.

Existing law prohibits a landlord from taking specified actions with intent to terminate the occupancy under any lease or other tenancy or estate at will, however created, of property used by a tenant as the tenant’s residence. Existing law makes a violator of those provisions subject to certain damages in a civil action.

This bill would, until February 1, 2021, make a violator of those provisions whose tenant has provided to that violator the declaration of COVID-19-related financial distress described above liable for damages in an amount between $1,000 and $2,500.

Existing law, The Small Claims Act, grants jurisdiction to a small claims court in cases where the amount demanded does not exceed $5,000, as specified, and prohibits a person from filing more than 2 small claims actions in which the amount demanded exceeds $2,500 anywhere in the state in any calendar year.

This bill would instead, until February 1, 2025, provide that a small claims court has jurisdiction in any action for recovery of COVID-19 rental debt, as defined, regardless of the amount demanded and would provide that a claim for recovery of a COVID-19 rental debt is exempt from the prohibition on filing more than 2 small claims actions described above.

Existing law, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, prohibits, with certain exceptions, an owner of residential real property from increasing the gross rental rate for a dwelling or unit more than 5% plus the “percentage change in the cost of living,” as defined, or 10%, whichever is lower, of the lowest gross rental rate charged for the immediately preceding 12 months, subject to specified conditions. The act exempts certain types of residential real properties, including dormitories constructed and maintained in connection with any higher education institution within the state for use and occupancy by students in attendance at the institution and housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years.

This bill would revise and recast those exemptions to exempt dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, school. The bill would also make clarifying changes to the definition of “percentage change in the cost of living.”

This bill would also make clarifying and conforming changes.

The bill would include findings that changes proposed by this bill address a matter of statewide concern rather than a municipal affair and, therefore, apply to all cities, including charter cities.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute.

On August 13, 2020, the California Judicial Council announced that it would end its Emergency Rules instituted on April 6, 2020, lifting the ban upon the filing of unlawful detainer actions as of September 1, 2020.

On July 28, 2020, the Marin County Board of Supervisors passed Resolution No. 2020-84, Barring Evictions in Marin County Due To The Public Health Emergency Arising From COVID-19, which extended Resolution No. 2020-60 passed on June 23, 2020, Resolution No. 2020-45 passed on May 26, 2020, Resolution No. 2020-40 passed on April 28, 2020 and Resolution No. 2020-27 passed on March 24, 2020, all concerning the moratorium on residential evictions in Marin County.  The July 28, 2020 Resolution 2020-84 extends the prior eviction moratorium through September 30, 2020.  The Resolution states (in part): 

WHEREAS, the Public Health Officer has concluded that continued evictions in Marin County during this critical phase of the COVID-19 virus crisis would adversely impact public health and pose a grave danger to the health and safety of the residents of Marin County; and
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(1) A temporary moratorium on eviction on residential units for non-payment of rent by tenants directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis is imposed as follows: 

a. No landlord or owner of residential unit(s) shall endeavor to evict a residential tenant or otherwise require a tenant to vacate if the residential tenant has provided notice to the landlord, owner, or landlord or owner's representative within 30 days after the date that rent was due that the residential tenant is unable to pay rent due to financial impacts related to COVID-19 as defined herein.  

*    *   

d. A landlord who has been provided with notice under subsection (a), shall not serve a Notice of Termination file or prosecute an unlawful detainer action based on a notice of termination, or otherwise seek to evict for nonpayment of rent. 

e. A landlord may not take any actions to evict or attempt to evict a residential tenant unless the landlord demonstrates that the landlord provided a copy of this resolution and the following notice in at least 12-point font to tenants when serving tenants with a Notice of Termination: 


*    *    *

g. Landlords and owners of residential real property, and those acting on their behalf, are prohibited from harassing or intimidating residential tenants for acts or omissions expressly permitted under this Resolution, as amended.

h. A residential tenant who demonstrated financial impact due to COVID-19 as required and defined under this Resolution shall have up to 90 days after the expiration or termination date of this Resolution to tender the past-due rent, before the tenant shall be deemed to be in default of rent payment obligations.  Nothing in this Resolution shall otherwise relieve the residential tenant of liability for the unpaid rent.  

The July 28, 2020 Staff Proposal from the County of Marin, Community Development Agency recommending approval of Resolution 2020-84 stated, "The Amended Resolution would continue to operate in conjunction with the Governor's COVID-19 Emergency Declaration and the Judicial Council of California's actions to provide statewide protections to renters affected by COVID-19 who are already in eviction proceedings.  On April 6, 2020, the Judicial Council of California adopted temporary emergency rules that provide additional protections for tenants in eviction court proceedings by suspending action on all eviction court cases and judicial foreclosures, except where an eviction is necessary to protect public health and safety.  These rules remain in effect until 90 days after the Governor declares that the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted or the order is otherwise amended.  The County Resolutions provide additional protections for tenants as the Judicial Council Emergency Rules do not prevent a landlord from initiating an eviction by issuing or posting a notice to evict."

On June 30, 2020Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-71-20, which in part extends the authorization for local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through September 30, 2020.

On June 19, 2020the Marin County Superior Court extended its prior orders through July 18, 2020, requiring all appearances other than those ordered to be in person, be via Zoom, or V-Court telephone conferencing.  There will be no charge for either service.  The Court will send emails with a password and hyperlink, and phone number to join the meeting.  Parties must be dressed in appropriate courtroom attire.  Any document to be referenced, marked, or filed during the course of the session must be emailed to the court clerk with a copy to opposing parties.  Documents to be proffered as evidence must be clearly identified by the party offering the document, and case number.  Proceedings may not be recorded and will not be publicly broadcast. 

On April 6, 2020, the California Judicial Council issued 11 Emergency Orders; including Emergency rule 1, banning the filing of unlawful detainer cases until after 90 days from the lifting of the State of Emergency by Governor Newsom.  During this time, courts may not issue summons or default judgments except for "health and public safety reasons."  Any trial set in an unlawful detainer proceeding as of April 6, 2020 must be continued at least 60 days from the initial date of trial.  Additionally, the court may not set a trial date earlier than 60 days after a request for trial is made unless the court finds that an earlier trial date is necessary to protect public health and safety.

On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Please wear a mask.  Masks save lives.

(Last edited on September 4, 2020)

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be 
construed to be legal advice, nor form the basis of an attorney/client relationship.