Category: Uncategorized

Can You Get Your Professional License Back After It’s Revoked?

In California, as in other states, professionals in a wide variety of fields are required to hold a license in order to practice their trade. Such professions range from medical doctors to accountants to private investigators. Each has a licensing board or other authority that makes and enforces rules on competence, ethical standards, and more.

If a professional falls afoul of their licensing board for one reason or another, the board may file an accusation of misconduct against them. The professional will then be given a chance to defend themselves in an administrative hearing, often before an administrative law judge (ALJ). If they are found to have committed some sort of misconduct, punishment can include the suspension or even revocation of their license.

Is it possible to get your license back after it’s revoked? The answer is yes, and you have a couple of options.

Petitioning for Reinstatement

Your license can either be revoked with stay or revoked without stay. A revocation with stay is a type of probation. It means the board will hold off on actually revoking your license for a period of time, during which you must fulfill certain requirements (taking educational courses, for example). A revocation without stay, on other hand, is a final judgment, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any options left.

Most boards allow professionals to petition for reinstatement after some time has passed. This period can vary, but is usually one to three years. At this hearing, you can show that you have resolved the issue which led to the revocation, call fellow professionals as witnesses to vouch for you, and generally convince the board that there will be no further problems. If successful, the board can restore your license and you will be able to practice again.

Appealing the Board’s Decision

You can always appeal a board’s decision if you believe it was mistaken or unfair. Depending on the particular board involved, there may be an internal appeals process, which must first be exhausted. If you have tried everything at the board level, you can appeal its decision to a regular state court.

The court can overrule the board if it lacked jurisdiction, denied you a fair hearing, or abused its discretion. California courts have recognized license revocation as depriving someone of the “fundamental right” to practice their profession, and will look to see if the punishment was too severe for the misconduct. If the board’s decision to revoke is overturned, it may still impose some other punishment, such as probation or suspension.

Learn More About Your Options

If you are facing disciplinary action by a licensing board or your license has already been revoked, your livelihood is at stake and it’s critically important to have assistance from an administrative law attorney. An experienced attorney can help ensure you receive a fair hearing, minimize disciplinary action, and even get your license back.

Our team of administrative law experts practice all across Southern California. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Accessory Dwelling Units in California

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) go by a few names: an in-law house, granny flat, carriage house, backyard cottage, and more. They are increasingly popular with homeowners looking to provide a living space for family members or to generate monthly rental income.

With a housing crunch affecting much of California, the state government has a strong policy encouraging the construction of ADUs to provide more affordable housing options. Just this year, a new set of laws went into effect that incentivize building ADUs and remove many of the legal barriers that may have stopped homeowners in the past. Here is a quick rundown on accessory dwelling units in California.

What Is an ADU?

An accessory dwelling unit is an independent living space that is added on to an existing property with a single-family dwelling. An ADU can be a detached building, or an area of the original house that has been repurposed as independent living quarters. The latter type is known in California as a Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit (JADU).

State law allows for a maximum ADU size of 1200 square feet or, in the case of a JADU, no more than 50% of the square footage of the original house. For example, if the original house is 2000 square feet, a JADU may not exceed 1000 square feet. Local laws may relax this restriction, however.

Changes in State Law

 For a variety of reasons, not all counties and municipalities have been friendly to the idea of allowing homeowners to add an ADU to their property. In order to discourage the practice, local governments could enact restrictive zoning laws, make it difficult to acquire a permit, and more. Similarly, homeowners’ associations could prohibit ADUs via their covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).

New state laws have made it much harder to prevent a homeowner from building an ADU. For example, local governments can only restrict the construction of ADUs based on availability of water and sewer service, and the impact on traffic and public safety. If an ADU permit application has not been acted on within 60 days, it is automatically approved. CC&R’s cannot unreasonably restrict or effectively prohibit the building of an ADU. Homeowners considering adding an ADU should find it much easier now.

Accessory Dwelling Units and Property Taxes

For most homeowners, one of the most important questions is how an ADU will affect their property taxes. The short answer is: it will raise your property tax, but not as much as you might be thinking. The value of the new addition will be added to your overall property value, but it will not trigger a reassessment.

For example, if the assessed value of your property is $200,000, but the actual market value is $500,000, building an ADU valued at $100,000 will bring the total assessed value to $300,000, not $600,000.

Additional Considerations

Besides navigating the new laws, building permits, government incentives, tax implications, and rental agreements, homeowners should also consider creating an LLC to protect their assets. If something goes wrong and a renter takes you to court, all of your assets are potentially at risk; an LLC can help reduce this exposure. It may also help you benefit from more tax deductions.

Think of building an accessory dwelling unit on your property? A consultation with Hoffman & Forde can help you do it faster and more cost-effectively, as well as minimize your legal exposure.

California Rental Agreement Laws

Rental Agreement Laws

California has some of the most complex landlord-tenant laws in the nation. There are extensive protections for tenants, as well as separate rent-control laws in a number of municipalities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and others. Residential rental agreements must clearly communicate the terms of the tenancy and abide by all applicable laws.

Faulty or poorly drafted rental agreements can create all kinds of headaches for landlords and possibly provide an eviction defense for tenants. To minimize problems in the future, we highly recommend that property owners consult with a real estate attorney when creating their rental agreements.

Basic Terms of a Rental Agreement

Every rental agreement for a residential property should include these key terms at the very least:

  • Names of All the Tenants – It’s also a good idea to include an occupancy limit and identify what happens if additional people come to live on the property without notifying the landlord.
  • Physical Address of the Property
  • Rental Period – Identify the time period the lease will last (commonly 6, 12, or 24 months). Also state whether it will become a month-to-month agreement after the initial period expires. Note that, under California law, the tenancy will automatically continue month-to-month if the landlord accepts rental payment.
  • Rent Amount
  • Rent Payment Details – Identify when the rent is due, where and to whom it should be paid, the method of payment, and late fees.
  • Security Deposit Information – In California, the security deposit may not exceed the value of two months’ rent (three months if the property is furnished).
  • Utilities Payment – Identify which party is responsible for the payment of utilities such as electricity and gas.
  • Maintenance and Repairs – Identify which party is responsible for maintaining and repairing the property.
  • Pet Policy – Clearly communicate the policy on pets, including what types of pets are allowed and the responsibilities of the tenant.

Tenant Protection Act

Passed in 2019, the Tenant Protection Act made significant statewide changes to California landlord-tenant law, including adding just-cause termination requirements and restrictions on rent increases. Here is a brief summary of the major changes.

Once a tenant has occupied a property for 12 months or more, the landlord may only terminate the tenancy for “just cause.” Just cause can include failure to pay rent, material breach of rental agreement terms, criminal activity, and more. There also “no-fault” causes to terminate, such as when the owner or the owner’s immediate family wishes to occupy the property.

Under the rent-increase provisions, in any 12-month period a landlord may not increase the rent by more than the rate of inflation (defined by the Consumer Price Index) plus 5%, or a total of 10%, whichever is lower. A number of dwelling types are excluded, such as single-family homes and buildings that are less than 15 years old.

Landlords must disclose these changes in the law to existing and new tenants by written notice or in an addendum to the rental agreement.

Consult a Landlord-Tenant Attorney

In this complex and always-changing legal landscape, it is crucial to have expert advice. Our team of Southern California real estate attorneys can help you draft a rental agreement that makes sure your interests and property are protected. Schedule an appointment today.

What to Look for in a San Diego Real Estate Litigation Lawyer

With different contracts involved in real estate transactions, it’s highly possible for homeowners and property owners & sellers to encounter litigation. Let’s take a look at common causes of real estate litigation and if you’re in San Diego, what to look for when hiring a lawyer to help with your case.

Common Causes of Real Estate Litigation

Real estate disputes and challenges can be caused by the following.  

Breach of Contract

In real estate transactions, typically two parties will have reached an agreement or contract which can include agreements with respect to purchase, sale, partnership, a lease or other agreements. When one or more parties fail to uphold their end of the contract, whether the agreement was oral or written, a lawsuit can arise. In a case claiming breach of contract, the plaintiff needs to prove that they have upheld their contractual duties, while the defendant has failed to perform the contract’s terms. The wronged party may receive compensation for the damages and losses they endured because of the breach.

Negligence or Breach of Duty

Real estate agents must provide buyers with what they need to make an informed decision regarding the purchase. By law, real estate agents are required to work to benefit the client and their best interests—this includes disclosing information relevant to the purchase and keeping client information confidential. Failure to fulfill due care and not taking appropriate action can lead to a lawsuit. 

Failure to Disclose Property Defects

Thorough inspection of a property is required to help buyers make an informed decision. In California, residential property sellers are required by law to disclose the property’s condition and defects. These include structural defects or even if a death occurred at the property within the last three years. Without thorough documentation and failure to disclose property defects to a potential buyer can lead to litigation.

Boundary Disputes

Another common cause of real estate challenges includes boundary disputes. This type of dispute may arise between neighbors and involve misunderstandings regarding property lines. One way to prevent or resolve boundary disputes is to order a survey which accurately reflects the boundary lines. In some cases the owners can resolve the dispute with a quiet title action, which asks the courts to determine the property’s boundary lines.

Choosing Your Real Estate Attorney

There are other real estate disputes that can arise and it’s best to be prepared in all cases. A real estate attorney can help you prevent these disputes. If you’re already facing litigation, it’s important to choose an attorney that has the expertise, creative approach, and cost-effective solutions you need. 

Experience & Expertise

Whether the property is commercial or residential, look for a real estate attorney or law firm that has the expertise to handle your case. As a boutique law firm, Hoffman & Forde has access not only to real estate attorneys but also a group of professionals across multiple industries. 

Creative Approach

While creativity may be the last thing you look for in an attorney, it’s important to recognize that each case will be unique and will then require a unique approach. Our accessible team at Hoffman & Forde does just that.

Cost-Effective Solutions

You’re already investing a considerable amount of time, money, energy, and other resources to secure your property. Choose a law firm that provides clients with the most cost-effective solutions possible. 

 

Your San Diego Real Estate Litigation Attorneys

Resolve your case effectively with our commercial and residential real estate attorneys at Hoffman & Forde. Schedule a consultation today to see how we can help.

What is Administrative Law?

There is no universally accepted definition of administrative law, but rationally it may be held to cover the organization, powers, duties, and functions of public authorities of all kinds engaged in administration; their relations with one another and with citizens and nongovernmental bodies; legal methods of controlling public administration; and the rights and liabilities of officials. 

 

Administrative law is to a large extent complemented by constitutional law, and the line between them is hard to draw. The organization of a national legislature, the structure of the courts, the characteristics of a cabinet, and the role of the head of state are generally regarded as matters of constitutional law, whereas the substantive and procedural provisions relating to central and local governments and judicial review of administration are reckoned matters of administrative law. But some matters cannot be exclusively assigned to either administrative or constitutional law.

 

In the United States, administrative law (or regulatory law) is a branch of public law that applies to federal as well as independent agencies. Administrative federal law defines the duties and responsibilities of executive branch agencies and independent agencies; when the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of federal government are unable to directly carry out their constitutional duties, federal- and state-level government bodies issue directives to monitor activities in complex areas.

 

In California, “[t]he Office of Administrative Law (OAL) ensures that agency regulations are clear, necessary, legally valid, and available to the public. OAL is responsible for reviewing administrative regulations proposed by over 200 state agencies for compliance with the standards set forth in California’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA), for transmitting these regulations to the Secretary of State and for publishing regulations in the California Code of Regulations.”

Administrative Procedure Act

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) enacted June 11, 1946, is the United States federal statute that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations and grants U.S. federal courts oversight over all agency actions. It is one of the most important pieces of United States administrative law, and serves as a sort of “constitution” for U.S. administrative law.

Hoffman & Forde’s Administrative Law Firm Services

Our team of attorneys are experienced defending professionals from malpractice claims, regulatory complaints and licensing board hearings in California. Our attorneys bring years of success to administrative and professional licensing law having represented every kind of licensed professional including medical personnel, real estate agents & brokers, accountants, engineers, contractors, social workers, insurance brokers, and fiduciaries. Business owners & managers are subject to the influence of government and the law in the workplace. When facing reproval, penalties, fines, probation, suspension, revocation or even a lifetime ban trust our attorneys to defend your license and your livelihood.

Your Southern California Administrative Law Attorneys

At Hoffman & Forde, our attorneys are experienced California administrative law attorneys, and we defend licensed professionals and businesses before the Medical Board, Department of Insurance, Department of Real Estate and other California licensing agencies. We have many years of administrative hearing experience before the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), as well as license defense experience in other administrative law forums.

As a boutique law firm, we have experts across disciplines and relevant industries. With our creative solutions, your estate plan will be tailored to you and your goals. Invest in legal advice and set up your family for the future for peace of mind. Call us today for a consultation.

San Diego Commercial Tenant Attorneys: What To Look For

2020 has brought with it a range of legal issues in the commercial real estate space. Commercial tenant conflicts, while common, have become more prevalent and can take many different forms. That’s why more than ever, connecting with a top-of-the-line commercial tenant attorney in San Diego has never been more important. Savvy clients can prevent conflict before it occurs, or reach mutual agreement with proper legal counsel. Here’s what to expect from a good commercial tenant attorney.

Experience With A Range of Situations

An experienced commercial tenant attorney is able to represent tenants in all kinds of important ways. Whether they’re facing unlawful evictions, rent payment problems, or claims of breach of lease agreement issues, this kind of attorney can navigate nuances with skill. They should also be able to help with drafting leases and working through safety and health issues, code compliance, rental discrimination, and more.

Knowledge of California Laws Helps Businesses

Every state has its own commercial tenant laws. That’s why California business owners need local legal counsel with the knowhow to navigate these laws. When rent increases without warning, eviction looms, or there are issues with maintaining the space, businesses could fall into some unfavorable situations if they aren’t careful. A good San Diego commercial tenant attorney can help before signing a lease and after.

Foresight and Resolve

A good commercial tenant attorney can offer legal counsel at the first sign of trouble to avoid litigation. However, they can also be aggressive when needed and won’t hesitate to go to court if necessary. These attorneys look out for their client’s best interest at all times.

Choose Our Commercial Tenant Attorneys 

At Hoffman & Forde, we know that not all cases are the same. But we’re experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to California laws for business owners. We put clients first and provide creative solutions that best fit your case. As a boutique lawyer, you get the specialized skills of our commercial tenant attorneys and legal counsel across related disciplines. Our five-star reviews also attest to our firm’s professionalism and dedication to our clients’ success. Call us today to find out more about our comprehensive legal services and how we can help.

Can a Real Estate Attorney Represent Both Buyer and Seller?

What happens when both the buyer and the seller of a real estate transaction approach the same lawyer? Can a real estate attorney represent both parties? The answer is a little more nuanced than a “yes” or a “no.”

Attorneys have responsibilities to their clients both present and former. In handling a legal matter, they have to identify any conflicts of interest so they can best advocate for their clients. These conflicts include identifying the attorney’s potential personal interests and any conflicts among the clients involved. When it comes to real estate transactions, attorneys have to keep information about the case confidential and representing both buyer and seller in a transaction can divide the attorney’s loyalty, and inhibit their ability to serve their clients well.

Considering the relationship between clients and lawyers ensures that lawyers follow rules and ethics standards set forth by the American Bar Association and the State Bar.

In the event that an attorney is retained by multiple parties in a related case, such as a real estate transaction, a conflict waiver may apply.

Conflict Waivers

Rule 3-310 of the California Rules of Professional Responsibility addresses joint representation in transactions. The San Diego County Bar Association is helpful in this matter (emphases added):

“[An attorney] shall not, without the informed written consent of each client:  (1) Accept representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients potentially conflict; or (2) Accept or continue representation of more than one client in a matter in which the interests of the clients actually conflict; or (3) Represent a client in a matter and at the same time in a separate matter accept as a client a person or entity whose interest in the first matter is adverse to the client in the first matter.”

There are some obvious cases in which the attorney cannot represent both parties, such as the defendant and prosecutor. In real estate transactions, if an attorney is retained by both buyer and seller, the ABA gives this specific example:

“Directly adverse conflicts can also arise in transactional matters. For example, if a lawyer is asked to represent the seller of a business in negotiations with a buyer represented by the lawyer, not in the same transaction but in another, unrelated matter, the lawyer could not undertake the representation without the informed consent of each client.”

This “informed consent of each client” is the conflict waiver. Before obtaining a waiver, the attorney must identify all possible conflicts in a case and if the case cannot be waived, a waiver should not be pursued. Instead, the attorney should decline representation given the conflicts. With real estate transactions, an attorney would ideally represent only the buyer or seller unless it’s under certain (but exceptional) circumstances such as clients being in the same family.

Helping You With Your Real Estate Needs

Our real estate attorneys at Hoffman & Forde are here to determine the best options for your real estate transaction. Whether you’re the seller or buyer, we work with 0ur clients to ensure their rights are protected and that their transactions go smoothly. Our boutique law firm gives you access to a wide array of legal specialties, so that all aspects of your case or transaction are covered. If you need legal counsel for residential or commercial real estate matters, schedule a consultation with Hoffman & Forde today.

USCIS Increases Fees in 2020

The USCIS is fee funded unlike other government agencies. After their biennial fee review, the agency is adjusting their fees “to help meet operational needs.” People seeking naturalization as US citizens, or those who wish to travel and work here can expect an increase in their fees. The Department of Homeland security announced that this increase will be effective starting October 2. This final rule increases fees by a weighted average of 20% and it affects a few things:

  • Removal of certain fee exemptions
  • Changes in fee waiver requirements
  • Premium processing time limits
  • New fees for certain immigration benefit requests
  • Establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions
  • Limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms 

(Source)

Additionally, the USCIS notes that “[a]ny application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.” The final rule also increases fees for employment-based nonimmigrant visa applications; however, fees for employment-based visas will decrease from $700 to $555. Most fee waivers are also eliminated for low-income immigrants who qualify.

While the changes eliminate most fee waivers, it adds a new asylum application fee, and requires separate fees for adjustment applications. The rise in fees is on par with the agency’s last adjustment, but the 20% bump is still significant.

How Our Immigration Lawyers Assist Clients

No matter your status or goals for immigration, our immigration attorneys at Hoffman & Forde can assist you with a variety of legal services. Hoffman & Forde represents individuals, businesses, and even corporations for various immigration cases. Our attorneys can assist clients with the following:

  • Permanent residency
  • Employment-based visas
  • National citizenship
  • Deportation defense
  • Citizenship applications
  • Employment-based visas
  • Investor-based visas
  • Family green card petitions
  • Green cards through marriage 
  • Waivers
  • Consular processing

The immigration process can be complex. There are many moving parts but our experienced attorneys ensure that you have quality representation throughout the process. We work closely with our clients to provide thorough case assessments and present the best proposals for your legal status.

Your Southern California Immigration Attorneys

Hoffman & Forde is here to help you achieve the American Dream. If you are undocumented in this country, remember that you still have rights and we’re here to defend them. We help clients in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties to stay on track of crucial information and deadlines, as well as assist with completing and submitting all the necessary paperwork. As our client, you can with first-class legal service, high-level attention, and a sophisticated approach to problem-solving that utilizes time-sensitive, practical legal advice.

If you need legal assistance with your immigration process, please contact us today for a consultation.

Types of Bankruptcy Our Attorneys Can Help With

Attorney with scales, piggy bank, gavel, and house model

The novel coronavirus has shut down businesses of all sizes, many of which have also filed for bankruptcy. Even large companies such as Hertz, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew were no exceptions. One of the latest casualties is pizza chain California Pizza Kitchen, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to this New York Times article,

“More than 6,800 companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, and this year will almost certainly have more. The flood of petitions from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression could swamp the system, making it harder to save the companies that can be rescued, bankruptcy experts said.

Most good-size companies that go into bankruptcy try to restructure themselves, working out payment agreements for their debts so they can stay open. But if a plan can’t be worked out — or isn’t successful — they can be liquidated instead. Equipment and property are sold off to pay debts, and the company disappears.”

Interestingly, while the pandemic hit California hard, Chapter 11 filings are in flux. Bloomberg Law notes that

“confirmed coronavirus cases and Chapter 11 numbers rise and fall in their own rhythms. In fact, Chapter 11 cases steadily dropped in California from March (43) to April (30) to May (27) as confirmed cases increased from 8,221 to 41,897 to 61,821. The two only increased contemporaneously in June 2020.”

While big companies make the news when it comes to bankruptcy, the impact these filings have on the workers are not as reported. You may be an employee whose company is immediately facing bankruptcy. Perhaps you or someone you know is about to file for individual bankruptcy after debt consolidation is no longer a viable option.

If 2020 has taught us something, it’s that events like a pandemic can trigger such great economic uncertainty that puts even the most prepared at risk. Often, even major expenses such as health care bills, job loss and other financial loss can result in bankruptcy. But regardless of the reason, there are ways to recover from financial stress. Our bankruptcy attorneys can help find a solution that fits your needs so you can start over with your finances.

Types of Bankruptcy

Get the legal assistance you need and get your financial fresh start. Find out which type of bankruptcy you qualify for and how our bankruptcy lawyers can assist.

Chapter 7

This type is also called the straight or liquidation bankruptcy. A court will appoint a trustee who will then own your assets to sell and distribute the funds to your creditors. Under current bankruptcy laws, you must pass a means test before filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your current monthly income is below the Southern California adjusted median income, then you automatically qualify. Our lawyers have helped many people file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after other attorneys told them that they did not qualify. 

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may help you get out of debt by completing a repayment plan over a 3- to 5-year period. Chapter 13 is often the best option for those who cannot pass the Chapter 7 means test or those seeking to protect assets that would be placed at risk by Chapter 7. We explain your options for loan modifications versus bankruptcy and the prospects of reaffirming secured debts. 

Chapter 11

This type is a reorganization bankruptcy and is available to individuals and businesses. In contrast to Chapter 7, the debtor remains in control of business operations under chapter 11 and doesn’t sell off all of its assets. The process involved with Chapter 11 personal or business bankruptcy is far more complicated than either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. In fact, you or your business will have to be involved in the process for several years in most cases. We can help you through all of these steps and explain each option available to you.

Chapter 15

The main goal of Chapter 15 is to provide cooperation between a foreign debtor, foreign courts and the U.S. Bankruptcy courts. A foreign debtor who had assets in a number of countries would file Chapter 15. Our attorneys have experience assisting foreign debtors with their complicated debt problems. 

Our Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help

Our boutique law firm offers comprehensive legal services and years of proven experience to help you recover from debt. We also recognize that each case is unique. This is why we deliver creative solutions and fee structures tailored to each client’s needs. Financial relief is possible and we’ll help you navigate the legal process from start to finish. Contact us for a consultation today.