A group of landlords that spent the past couple of years campaigning against stronger tenant protections in San Jose have been accused of illegal lobbying. The Bay Area Homeowners Network—called BAHN and led by real estate agent Jenny Zhao and landlords Dan Pan and Irene Smith, among others—coalesced sometime in 2016 as the City Council began debating whether to lower the rent control cap and banning no-cause evictions. One of their first recorded meetings with an elected official took place in April 2016 at Councilman Chappie Jones’ house—the only meeting the District 1 rep took at his own home that year, according to his public calendar. But BAHN apparently failed to report that or any other meeting with city officials. According to a recent claim submitted by an unnamed “former member” to San Jose’s Ethics Commission, BAHN—whose members have called tenant protections communist—ducked transparency requirements by attempting to shape public policy without registering as a lobbyist or filing required disclosures. The complaint also notes that BAHN raised more than $40,000 to fund a “public relations campaign with the intent of urging direct communication with city officials in order to influence a legislative action.” The complaint includes several attachments, including a fundraising ledger and emails urging members to convince District 7 Councilman Tam Nguyen—considered a crucial swing vote—to keep the yearly rent control cap at 5 percent (which he did) rather than tying it to the rate of inflation. City Clerk Toni Taber declined to comment on the claim except to note that it has yet to be assigned to an evaluator. BAHN members told Fly that the complaint was news to them. “Technically, we are not lobbying,” Zhao said. “Our main goal is to help mom-and-pop businesses.” Granted, as a nonprofit trade association under the same IRS classification as a chamber of commerce, BAHN can legally work as a lobbying group. The question is whether they should register as such.