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Why Did Landlord UDR Retaliate Against Journalist Erin Baldwin? Here's Nine Reasons to Start
Ever wonder why 40% of UDR's annual revenues come from its holdings in California?Because it's been fleecing California tenants since 2004 to fund development in other parts of the country. Journalist, Erin Baldwin, told the truth and paid the price.
By: Pro Se Nation
1. UDR ASKS ITS TENANTS TO WAIVE THEIR RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW & TO AGREE TO THE CONTRARY:
Any clause in UDR's CA Residential Lease Agreement ("RLA") that asks a tenant to waive their rights under the law and to agree to the contrary, is unenforceable. This is a major defect in this contract and one that gave rise to the fact that it was not only facially illegal under California law but was also demonstrably unconscionable and oppressive. (CA Code of Civil Procedure section 1670.5(a) and CA Civil Code section 1953.)
2. UDR CHARGES EARLY LEASE TERMINATION LIQUIDATED DAMAGES IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW:
CA Civil Code section 1671 states that liquidated damages clauses in CA RLAs are illegal. However, UDR requires that its tenants (1) waive their legal right under this law; and (2) agree to pay a liquidated damages fee equal to 2-1/4 times their base rent if they terminate their lease early. UDR wants its tenants to believe it will take 68 days (2-1/4 months) to re-rent their apartment.
In 1978, liquidated damages clauses were deemed illegal because landlords were distorting the true legal purpose of these clauses, i.e., To set a flat fee when it’s impossible to determine the monetary harm that could result from a breach of the contract. This doesn’t apply to UDR. They know (within a slim margin) how long it’s going to take to fill a vacant apartment as they use these statistics every day to project sales and calculate expenses.
In order for UDR to maintain its average 95% occupancy rate, it must fill a vacancy within 18 days; so, 50 of those 68 days UDR charges its tenants in early termination fees is double rent – a violation of the law. If it actually took UDR 68 days to re-let an apartment, they would have been out of business long ago.
Also, CA law states that liquidated damages may not be used as a penalty or fee provision: “Where a liquidated damages clause is seen as a penalty rather than an effort to agree upon a reasonable amount of estimated damages, the clause will not be enforceable.”
3. UDR CHARGES LATE FEES THAT ARE INCORRECTLY AND ILLEGALLY CALCULATED:
In Orozco v. Casimiro, 121 Cal.App.4th Supp. 7 (2004), “late fees” within CA rental agreements were deemed illegal liquidated damages. Landlords most certainly can collect late fees; however, CA Civil Code section 3302 mandates the manner in which they are calculated, i.e., "The late fee amount cannot exceed the standard interest rate of 10% of the base rent (non compounded) or 1/3650th of the base rent."
For example, if the base rent is $1,700, the daily interest would be $.47 per day (3650 divided by 1700) with a maximum late fee charge of $14.10 for any given 30-day period. UDR charges a flat fee of $50.00 which, according to CA law, is illegal and as such, a tenant may be eligible for a refund of the difference.
4. UDR CONTRACTS WITH TENANTS USING NAMES OTHER THAN ITS LEGAL NAME TO OBTAIN & SUSTAIN A LEGAL ADVANTAGE OVER TENANTS RESULTING IN DECREASED TENANT-BASED LITIGATION:
UDR fails to properly identify the legal name of “Landlord/
According to the Orange County Recorder’s office, the name expired on August 20, 2006 and UDR has knowingly and fraudulently used it to contract with tenants since the date it purchased the property in 2004.
A similar set of facts applies to all California UDR properties.
In addition, UDR fails to state the name, address and telephone number of the Agent for Service of Process on the face of its RLA as required by CA Civil Code section 1962. An Agent for Service of Process is a person or company to whom a tenant would serve a lawsuit against UDR. Without this information and the proper legal name tenants are at a distinct disadvantage.
5. UDR ILLEGALLY PROFITS FROM ITS RATIO UTILITY BILLING SYSTEM (RUBS) IN VIOLATION OF CA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (CPUC) REGULATIONS PROHIBITING NON-UTILITIES FROM “SELLING” ENERGY AND WATER:
UDR defers the cost of utilities for common areas, vacant units during repair and cleaning, leasing offices, swimming pools, property lighting, and laundry facilities to its tenants via it Ratio Utility Billing System (RUBS). UDR does not have a logistical need to do so as there are numerous residential energy meters at each property.
In addition, UDR sustains another double revenue stream by not only charging its tenants to source the energy and water being supplied to the onsite public laundry rooms but by also charging them to use the coin-operated machines.
6. UDR’S CA RLAs SET FORTH A "RUBS" FORMULA THAT IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE BECAUSE IT CONTAINS VARIABLES OUTSIDE THE CONTROL OR KNOWLEDGE OF ITS TENANTS: However, UDR requires that its tenants agree that the following RUBS formula is fair and equitable:
“Total monthly utility cost for the community (minus an allowance for common area use if applicable [which is not applicable in the present case]) divided by the number of persons residing at the community times the number of persons residing in the Premises using the applicable ratio multiplier [1 person = 1; 2 persons = 1.6; 3 persons = 2.2; 4 persons = 2.6; 5 persons = 3; each additional person, add..4 to the multiplier.]”
7. UDR ILLEGALLY DEFERS ON-PREMISES INJURY LIABILITY TO ITS TENANTS VIA “HOLD HARMLESS” CLAUSES IN VIOLATION OF CA LAW & FAILS TO MAINTAIN HABITABLE PREMISES:
UDR’s CA RLA contains several “hold harmless” clauses creating a perception of justifiable negligence in its failure to maintain habitable premises including, but not limited to, vector control, water quality, construction defects, tenant and guest safety standards for security, unit and vehicle intrusion, and required warnings of sexual offenders, theft, and violence.
According to CA Civil Code section 1668: “All contracts which have for their object (directly or indirectly) an attempt to exempt anyone from responsibility for his or her own fraud, willful injury to the person or property of another, and/or a violation of law (whether willful or negligent) are against the policy of law.”
8. UDR WITHHOLDS SECURITY DEPOSITS VIA ILLEGAL FEES & PENALTIES IT IMPROPERLY DEFERS TO TENANTS BUT WHICH REPRESENT UDR'S OPERATING COSTS:
UDR’s CA RLA Paragraph 37, “Resident’
Then it lists sixteen (16) items that constitute fees and penalties that may be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit. These items are clearly within the scope of UDR’s operating costs and responsibilities as a Landlord and constitute illegal deductions from a tenant’s security deposit. (CA Civil Code section 1950.5)
9. UDR ILLEGALLY EVICTS ITS TENANTS:
Tenants that have been or are presently in the process of being evicted under the terms and conditions of UDR’s CA RLA have significant affirmative defenses. However, even when they are properly pled, they are ignored due to established extrajudicial, ex parte relationships UDR has long-established with judicial officers.