San Francisco tenants can store more than just a car in their garage. While Section 603 of the San Francisco Housing Code ostensibly limits garage use, “only for storage of automobiles,” the law also exempts garages in dwellings, apartments, and residential hotels. San Francisco Housing Code § 603.  In 2014, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation revising the definition of a garage to allow garages in homes, apartments, and residential hotels to be used for more than storing cars.  Specifically, San Francisco tenants may store bicycles, scooters, and other personal items in their garages.  The storage must comply with the automatic sprinkler system requirements stated in Section 904 of the San Francisco Housing Code for this exemption to apply.

San Francisco tenants receiving nuisance demands from their landlords pertaining to the storage of personal items have several tools at their disposal.  Not only does San Francisco law expressly allow such storage, but a landlord’s repeated demands that the tenant remove personal items from their garage also constitutes harassment under the San Francisco Tenant Protection Ordinance, which is codified at San Francisco Administrative Code section 37.10b.  The tenant can bring a claim in court seeking damages, including civil penalties.  Where a landlord forces a San Francisco tenant to remove personal items from their garage, they may file a decrease in services petition at the San Francisco Rent Board.