Allowable rent increases

How much landlords can raise the rent on units covered by the law

Overview

A large majority of rental units in San Francisco are covered by rent stabilization laws (a.k.a., rent control) that regulate the amount landlords can raise tenants’ rent.

Specifically, rent stabilization means that landlords can raise tenants’ rent, but only by a certain amount over a certain time period.

The amount a landlord can increase rent on covered rental units generally depends on two factors:

  1. The allowable rate increases that are annually published by the Rent Board

  2. The last time the landlord raised the rent on a rental unit (or if the landlord has never raised rent, when the tenant’s lease began)

Examples to help calculate rent increases

The following are 4 examples to help landlords and tenants understand how permissible rental increases are calculated. We also include some general suggestions when making these calculations.

The “anniversary date” is the day and month when the landlord last raised rent as part of an annual increase. If a landlord has never raised rent, then, the “anniversary date” is the original move-in (lease) date.

  1. The landlord is raising rent exactly 1 year since the anniversary date

  2. The landlord is raising my rent on the anniversary date, but more than 1 year later (for example exactly 3 years since I moved in or rent was last raised)

  3. The landlord is raising rent on a date other than the anniversary date

  4. The landlord is raising my rent because of improvements made to the building

Important considerations

Landlords can only increase the rent once every 12 months. In other words, landlords cannot raise the rent on a unit within 12 months of the prior rent increase (or move-in date). The only exception is when rent is temporarily increased due to improvements on the building.

Landlords can only increase the rent on “base rent” and cannot include any “passthrough charges” (such as water bonds, tax bonds, improvement costs) in the increase calculation.  However, rent paid for parking or storage space is generally considered part of the “base rent.”

Rent increases are never automatically triggered. Landlords must give at least 30-days notice (increase is 10% or less) or 90-days notice (increase is more than 10%) in writing before any increase goes into effect. An extra five days notice is required if the notice is sent by mail.

More details

Disclaimer

The following is a basic summary and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions about your situation, please contact a SF Rent Board Counselor or visit www.sfrb.org for more information.

Last updated June 29, 2020

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