San Francisco Rent Ordinance

Tenant Protections Provided by the San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance:

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance (“SFRO”) protects tenants by requiring just cause for eviction of tenants who live in the majority of buildings in San Francisco built prior to June 13, 1979, and provides limits on annual rent increases.  The most commonly used “just causes” for eviction are:

  • Non-payment of rent or habitual late payment of rent;
  • Breach of a rental agreement or lease [such as for subletting or enforcement of a no-pets clause];
  • Owner move-in (“OMI”) or occupancy by a member of the landlord’s immediate family / relative move-in (“RMI”);
  • To perform capital improvements which will make the unit temporarily uninhabitable while the work is being done;
  • To perform substantial rehabilitation of a building that is at least 50 years old, provided that the cost of the proposed work is at least 75% of the cost of new construction;
  • To withdraw the rental units from the rental market under the Ellis Act;
  • Creation of a nuisance or substantial interference with the landlord or other tenants in the building; and
  • To demolish or permanently remove a rental unit from housing use.

A landlord’s eviction notice must be in writing, and for units subject to the protections of the SFRO, the notice must state that advice regarding the eviction notice is available from the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board.  There are other requirements for eviction notices that might be a defense to the unlawful detainer action if said requirements are not met.  You should consult an attorney or the Eviction Defense Collaborative (http://www.evictiondefense.org/) if you are served with an eviction notice or an unlawful detainer lawsuit.

If you have questions about how the SFRO protects you and your tenancy, please feel free to contact me.  Also, for detailed information about the SFRO, to obtain the annual rent increases, or to download the text of the SFRO and/or the Rent Board Rules please review the San Francisco Rent Board’s website: http://www.sfrb.org/.  Tenant assistance is also provided by the San Francisco Tenant’s Union: http://www.sftu.org/.