Can I Trust Urban Pioneer To Pay Back My Deposit?

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I’m a current resident at one of CitiApartments’ old residences, and recently had “Urban Pioneer” take over management of the building. Urban Pioneer has been running things for about 8 months, approximately, with many problems regarding maintenance issues.

I’m considering moving out, and figure they aren’t going to pay the security deposit back, regardless of the condition of the unit. My partner doesn’t want to pay last months rent at all. I’m hesitant to do so because then we’re breaking the law as well, which could “potentially” lead to all sorts of shit that our security deposit might not be worth (it’s hard to say).

A representative for Urban Pioneer said Urban Pioneer was hired by the lender to manage the building and clean up the previous issues associated with CitiApartments. I googled the representative and it looks like he was formerly associated with Citiapartments. Yet the new building manager is actually a good guy, really nice and cool, and seems to be working hard to make the building better within the fucked up system Urban Pioneer is making him work within. He could just be pulling my leg, but he seems really sincere and honestly wants to help, so I’m torn. Anyways, I feel like I’m in a bind and/or being played by Urban Pioneer, and was wondering if you had any news on this issue that might help me?

Sorry for getting to this a little late in the game. As you may know Urban Pioneer is owned by Taylor Lembi, of the CitiApartments-owning Lembi family. You can see his mug and read about the demise of CitiApartments in San Francisco Magazine’s December 2009 article, “War of Values” by my good friend Danelle Morton. To say that I am one of CitiApartments’ biggest detractors is a tad of an understatement. And by your description nothing had changed until your new building manager arrived. I think it’s still fair to assume the worst.

That said, I have a case right now in which I’m dealing with Urban Pioneer. When I took it, I was just trying to help the tenants get some things fixed in their apartment. I calledCitiApartments or should I say, First Apartments, asked who was in charge, got a name and wrote him a letter. No response.

I thought, shit, here we go and advised my clients to call the Department of Building Inspection. The housing inspector wrote notices of violation.

Then I got a call from the same guy you mention in your email as “really nice and cool.” He told me, “There’s a new sheriff in town,” and I immediately started humming “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. You know, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

Then something unexpected happened. Management sent a construction crew who began repairing all the problems. They’re not doing a bad job and seem to be respectful of my clients. The case is ongoing, but so far so good.

What does that mean for you? Hard to say. After all CitiApartments is still involved in aclass action suit involving the theft of uncontested security deposits. But I recommend that you talk (and write) to your new manager and try to see if you can apply you security deposit to your last month’s rent. It wouldn’t hurt. Show him this column and point out that if I’m willing to give them a pass this time, it might be good for their image to keep this “new sheriff” thing going.

Unfortunately, if you refuse to pay your rent, pointing out that they should apply your security deposit, they can still serve you a three-day notice to pay and file an unlawful detainer if you don’t pay. If they don’t refund your money, you’ll have to sue them in small claims court for $6,000.00. You can probably win it all, given the bad publicity, but then you’ll have to stand in line to get paid.

I think that all of the remaining buildings owned by the Lembis should be forced into receivership so that this sort of thing can’t happen. It would also put the kibosh on any more trips to Vegas for Walt.

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

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