The San Francisco Rent Ordinance provides for relocation payments in the event of an owner move-in or if the landlord wants to do capital improvements in your home. Unfortunately, the Rent Ordinance does not entitle tenants to relocation payments in the event of a fire.
However, if your San Francisco home is under rent control, you have a right to return following a fire or other natural disaster. The San Francisco Rent Board Rules and Regulations state that the landlord must offer you back your home within 30 days after completion of repairs. I tell my clients to send the landlord a letter with your current address, telephone number and e-mail address so the landlord will know where to find you. You have the right to return with the same terms of your rental agreement that existed prior to your leaving. You have 30 days to notify the landlord of your acceptance or rejection of the offer. If you accept the offer, you need to reoccupy your home within 45 days of receiving your landlord’s offer.
If your landlord refuses to allow you back in after the repairs and rerents your unit to another tenant, then your landlord has wrongfully evicted you. You can file a file a wrongful eviction petition with the Rent Board. The better step would be to contact a lawyer. If you wish to sue, you need to file a lawsuit within one year of discovering your landlord’s bad act. If you do not file a lawsuit within a year you will be prohibited from claiming certain damages under the Rent Ordinance.