Check applicability of the Rent Ordinance

The SF Rent Ordinance regulates (a) evictions and (b) rents. The following will help you determine if your rental is covered by “eviction protections” and “rent stabilization protections.”

Definition of eviction protections

According to local law, eviction protections means landlords cannot end a tenancy without a “just cause.”

Most units are covered under the eviction protections of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance

Almost all residential units in San Francisco are covered by the eviction protections of the SF Rent Ordinance.

Exceptions to eviction protections

Some rents are regulated by a different government agency (like Below Market Rate housing units). In these cases, the unit is likely not covered by eviction protections. However, it is possible that this other government agency provides eviction protection.

The law usually does not offer eviction protection to units located in Treasure Island and the Presidio Trust.

Units that are not considered rental units under the SF Rent Ordinance are also not covered. This includes dormitories, monasteries, tourist hotels, and extended-care facilities.

Rights and requirements from eviction protections

See the Forms Center to assert any of these rights.

For tenants 

Tenants may be eligible to receive Relocation Payments for no-fault evictions.

Tenants may file a Report of Wrongful Eviction if they believe an eviction or attempted eviction violates the SF Rent Ordinance.

Tenants may file a Report of Wrongful Severance if a landlord attempts to remove core housing services such as parking, laundry or storage.

For landlords

Landlords must file a copy of the eviction notice with the Rent Board within ten days of notifying the tenant. Note, however, that 3-day eviction notices based on non-payment of rent do not need to be filed with the Rent Board.  

Depending on the reason for the eviction, the law may also require landlords to attach specific forms (see forms center: 1007, 1009, 1010). These forms will help inform tenants’ of their rights along with the eviction notice.

The law requires landlords to file Statement of Occupancy forms after performing an Owner or Relative Move-In Eviction.

When performing mandatory seismic work, the law requires landlords to follow notice requirements under Chapter 65A before temporarily removing housing services. 

Definition of rent stabilization

Rent stabilization refers to the part of the SF Rent Ordinance that limits the amount and frequency of rent increases. This is often referred as rent control. 

Most units are covered under the rent stabilization protections

San Francisco’s rent stabilization protections cover the majority of residential rental units in San Francisco.

The SF Rent Stabilization law covers units constructed for residential purposes before June 13, 1979. However, there are some exceptions described below. 

The Planning Department's Property Information Map is generally a reliable way to determine when your building was built. Enter your address into the search bar on the website to get more information.

Exceptions to rent stabilization protections

The most common reason a residential unit is not covered is that it was newly constructed and has a certificate of occupancy that was first issued after June 13, 1979.

Rent stabilization typically does not cover single-family homes and condominiums if the tenancy began on or after Jan 1, 1996. However, some landlords have informally subdivided the home into multiple units. In these cases, it would no longer be considered a single-family home for the purposes of rent stabilization protections. The law generally covers these rental units.

Some rents are regulated by a different government agency (like Below Market Rate housing units). In these cases, the unit is likely not covered by the SF rent stabilization protections.

The Rent Ordinance does not cover units located in Treasure Island and the Presidio Trust.

Rights and requirements from rent stabilization protections

See the Forms Center to assert any of these rights.

For tenants

Tenants may file a Decrease in Housing Services petition if the landlord has removed or failed to provide a substantial housing service without reducing the tenant’s rent. This includes landlords who have unlawfully denied a tenant’s request for a new roommate.

Tenants may file an Unlawful Rent Increase petition if the landlord increases the rent in violation of the SF Rent Ordinance.

Tenants may file a Failure to Repair and Maintain petition to defer a pending rent increase until the landlord corrects existing code violations.

Tenants may file a Financial Hardship Application to request that certain types of rent increases and “passthroughs” be deferred.

Subtenants may file a petition claiming the master tenant is charging them a disproportionate share of the total rent paid to the landlord. 

For landlords

Landlords are generally limited to the Annual Allowable Rent Increase and accumulated Banked Rent Increases.

Landlords must file a Capital Improvement Petition before increasing a tenant’s rent due to the cost of capital improvement work. 

Landlords must file an Operating and Maintenance Petition before increasing a tenant’s rent due to an increase in operating and maintenance expenses. 

Landlords may file a Utility Passthrough Petition or Worksheet to increase the tenant’s rent due to an increase in the landlord’s costs for gas, electricity, and/or steam.

Landlords must use General Obligation Bond worksheets to recover a portion of these costs from their tenants.

Landlords must use Water Bond worksheets to recover a portion of these costs from their tenants.

Landlords may file a Petition for approval of an unlimited rent increase if no tenant is occupying the unit as their principal place of residence.

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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