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Verdict: $370k - Tenants fight back when landlord closes courtyard used by children.

A great result for a tenant, a great lesson for a landlord.

-Christopher J. Fry

Defendant landlord owned a 40-unit residential property named Casa Madrona on Frederick Street in San Francisco.  Defendant landlord instituted a policy banning use of a communal space, including a garden courtyard, by all tenants because it was being used by tenant families with small children. The landlord also told tenants, orally and in writing, that there were no play areas on the property and reconfigured the communal space so that it was no longer usable for social purposes. The property manager, Dennis Doyle, instructed the resident manager to call the families with children  and tell them that the privilege to use the garden courtyard was being revoked because management found chalk drawings on an interior sidewalk. Management also informed the tenants not to allow their children to play in any common area of the 40-unit property.

After several tenants sought rent reductions from the San Francisco Rent Board for the loss of services, Doyle and Morse then demolished the communal seating area and installed a wrought iron fence around the interior of the garden to physically prevent any further social use.

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