The San Francisco Rent Ordinance consists of a rent control component, which protects tenants from drastic rent increases, and a just cause for eviction component, which limits when a landlord may serve an eviction. Despite providing tenants numerous protections, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance does not cover every tenancy. Continue reading to learn the San Francisco Rent Ordinance basics, including whether your tenancy is covered.

San Francisco Rent Ordinance Coverage

Generally, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance covers all rental units that have a certificate of occupancy issued on or before June 13, 1979. However, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance exempts several units from coverage, including:

  1. Hotel, motel, inns where the tenant has not lived in the same room for thirty-two continuous days or more;
  2. Units in resident-owned non-profit cooperatives;
  3. Hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, asylum, residential care, or adult day health care for the elderly units;
  4. School dorms;
  5. Most units with rents controlled or regulated by any government entity;
  6. Units with a certificate of occupancy issued after June 13, 1979;
  7. Units in a building that has been substantially rehabilitated after June 13, 1979;
  8. Single-family homes and condos are exempt from the San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s rent control portion.

If your unit is in a multi-unit apartment building built before June 13, 1979, you are covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s rent control and eviction protections. If your unit is in a condo or single-family home built before June 13, 1979, you are covered by the just cause for eviction protection portion of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance but do not have rent control. California Rent Control may cover your tenancy, click here to read more. If your unit is in a building built after June 13, 1979, it will not have eviction protection or just cause for eviction protection. California Rent Control may cover your tenancy, click here to read more.

San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s Rent Control

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s rent control portion limits the amount a landlord may increase a tenant’s rent each year. Rent control covers tenancies in multi-unit buildings built before June 13, 1979. On March 1 of each year, the San Francisco Rent Board publishes the annual allowable rent increase percentage. A landlord is not permitted to increase the tenant’s rent more than the annual allowable rent increase.

Although a landlord cannot increase rent by more than the annual allowable rent increase, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance permits landlords to bank, or save, annual allowable rent increases. Through banking, a landlord can impose an accumulated rent increase on the tenant in a later year.

In addition to annual allowable increases, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance permits a landlord to passthrough certain costs on tenants. These charges are referred to as passthroughs. A landlord can passthrough the costs of improvements, rehabilitation, and energy conservation improvements made to the property onto the tenants. Notably, a landlord cannot passthrough the costs of routine repairs. A landlord may also passthrough the increased utility and water usage costs on the tenant. Additionally, a landlord may passthrough increased property taxes resulting from repaying certain general obligation bonds.

Has your landlord tried to evict you or increase your rent in violation of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance?

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San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s Eviction Protections

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance’s eviction limitations component requires a landlord to have a just cause to evict a tenant from their rent-controlled unit. San Francisco eviction protections cover tenancies in buildings built before June 13, 1979. Under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, a landlord may only evict a tenant where:

  1. The tenant has failed to pay rent;
  2. The tenant has substantially breached their lease and failed to fix the breach;
  3. The tenant is creating or allowing a nuisance at the property;
  4. The tenant is using the rental unit for an illegal purpose;
  5. The tenant refuses to sign a substantially similar written lease renewal;
  6. The tenant is refusing to allow the landlord, or his or her agent, to lawfully access the unit;
  7. The last remaining occupant is an unauthorized subtenant;
  8. The landlord seeks to evict so that the landlord, or a relative, can move into the rental unit as their principal place of residence;
  9. The landlord seeks to evict to sell the rental unit in accordance with a condominium conversion;
  10. The landlord seeks to evict to demolish the rental unit or otherwise remove it from housing use, and has already obtained all of the necessary permits;
  11. The landlord seeks to evict temporarily to carry out capital improvements or rehabilitation work, and has already obtained all of the necessary permits;
  12. The landlord seeks to recover possession of the rental unit to carry out a substantial rehabilitation, and has already obtained all of the necessary permits;
  13. The landlord seeks to evict all of the tenants in the building to withdraw all rental units from the rental market;
  14. The landlord seeks to evict temporarily to perform lead remediation or abatement work;
  15. The landlord seeks to evict to demolish or remove the rental unit from housing use in accordance with a development agreement made with the City of San Francisco; or,
  16. The landlord seeks to evict because the tenant’s Good Samaritan Status has expired.

Landlords may not recover possession unless at least one of the aforementioned just causes for eviction exists and is the landlord’s dominant motive for recovering possession.

Please note that a property owner that lives in the same unit with a tenant may evict without invoking a just cause.

To evict a tenant, the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of the just cause for eviction he or she is exercising. The termination of tenancy notice must also include a document distributed by the San Francisco Rent Board containing information covering the tenant’s rights under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Where the tenant speaks Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, or Russian, the landlord must attach a copy of the Rent Board document in the tenant’s primary language.

The landlord must file a copy of the termination of tenancy notice with the Rent Board within ten days of serving the notice on the tenant.

Money Damages Recovered For San Francisco Rent Ordinance Violations & Wrongful Eviction

San Francisco tenants with rent control and just cause eviction protections can exert their rights and recover money damages in a lawsuit for violations of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.  A wrongfully evicted tenant can recover the value of the lost San Francisco Rent Ordinance protected unit they were forced to vacate.  Additionally, a wrongfully evicted tenant can recover for their landlord’s failure to pay relocation assistance.

If you have been wrongfully evicted, or are facing the prospect of a wrongful eviction, in violation of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, contact Astanehe Law for your free consult.

If your landlord has violated the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, contact Astanehe Law immediately at (415) 226-7170 or contact@astanehelaw.com for your free consultation.  One of our experienced tenants’ rights attorneys will be able to speak with you and equip you with the knowledge necessary to fight back against your landlord’s abuse.  Astanehe Law knows tenant rights!