The San Francisco Rent Ordinance and single family homes

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance governs rental housing.  While the Rent Ordinance affects mostly apartments buildings built before 1979, it also affects tenants in single family homes.

The Rent Ordinance mandates that a tenant’s rent can only be increased under the limit set by the Rent Board.  Currently the increase allowed is 0.5% of the tenant’s current rent.  However, state law exempts leases of single family homes after January 1, 1996 from local rent control.  If a tenant moved in after that date, there is no limit on the amount of rent that can be charged.  However, if the landlord seeks a rent increase of more than 10% of the tenant’s current rent, then notice of the rent increase must be given to the tenant 60 days before it goes into effect.

While a lease for a home signed after January 1, 1996, is not subject to rent limits, the tenant is still protected under the Rent Ordinance from being evicted without “just cause.”  Just cause includes non-payment of rent, the owner moves into the home if certain conditions are met, extensive capital improvements or repairs which make the home unfit to live in for a temporary period and  permanently withdrawing the home from the rental market.

If your landlord chooses to move into a tenant’s home, then she cannot own another home where she currently lives.  The landlord must move into the home within three months after the tenant moves out and live there in good faith for at least 36 months.  The Rent Ordinance mandates that your landlord pay the tenant a statutory fee when serving notice of an owner move-in.  Currently, the fee is about $5,000 per tenant.  More fees are owed if the tenant is disabled or a senior.  If the landlord  move-in is done incorrectly, then she might be subjected to a civil lawsuit.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Tenant Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

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