Know Your Rights!
Tenants in SF have rights! If you’re experiencing harassment or pressure from your landlord, or fear you might be evicted or have to move, click on your issue below. Find a list of tenant rights groups who can offer help here.
New Local Eviction Protections for SF Tenants Beginning July 1, 2022
As of July 1, 2022 until the expiration of the local state of emergency, our local moratorium is back in effect.
- Landlords cannot evict tenants for non-payment of rent that came due on or after July 1, 2022 and was not paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Landlords are prohibited from imposing late fees or penalties on this rent.
- Landlords can seek to collect rent through civil court, but cannot evict for it (Note that this legislation does not protect tenants against eviction if the rental debt was incurred prior to July 1, 2022).
Visit sf.gov/renthelp for help paying rent.
JUST CAUSES for EVICTION
- Nonpayment of rent, habitual late payment, or frequent bounced checks.
- Breach (violation) of a term of the rental agreement that has not been corrected after written notice from the landlord.
- Nuisance or substantial damage to the unit (waste), or “creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants in the building.”
- OMI: Move-in of the landlord or a close relative of the landlord (if the landlord lives in the building).
- Sale of a unit which has been converted to a condo. Seniors and permanently disabled tenants cannot be evicted for condo conversions.
- Capital improvements or rehabilitation. The tenant has the right to re-occupy the unit at the prior rent, once the work is completed.
- Ellis Act evictions, which require withdrawal from rental housing use all of the units in the building.
- The building is converted into condos or a form of joint ownership called “tenancy in common (TIC)” for sale as homes for buyers.
- The landlord seeks to live in one or more of the units and may want family members to live in other units.
- The building continues as investment rental property (the landlord lives elsewhere).
- They may try to get tenants to sign new, more restrictive rental agreements or they may try to take away services to get more out of your rent money.
- They may encourage tenants to move out by offering money to leave (a buyout offer). You do not have to accept this offer. It likely will not be a good deal for you.
- Sometimes harassment is aimed at longer-term tenants paying affordable rents, because once a long-term tenant is out, they will be able to raise the rent to whatever they like.
What is an “Estoppel Agreement” or “Rental Questionnaire”? Should I sign it?
Do I have to sign a new lease?
RAISING YOU RENTS:
- How much is rent on a new lease in your neighborhood?
- How much time did you plan to stay in your unit or your neighborhood?
- Will you find another place here in SF?
- There is a reason your landlord wants you to take a buyout. Is your apartment worth more to you than the money?
Information about the new law regulating buyouts:
- Make necessary or agreed-upon repairs or services.
- Show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, mortgage holders, repair persons, or contractors.
- Inspect the unit at the request of the tenant for a security deposit refund.
- When there is a court order authorizing entry by the landlord.
UTILITY SHUT OFFS
- Under Penal Code 418, your landlord is guilty of a misdemeanor and could be arrested.
- You have a right to regain entry to the premises even if you must break in. Keep proof of your tenancy with you at all times.
- Keep a record of these incidents and write a letter to your landlord stating that you are aware of your rights and that you want the situation stopped without further harassment. Keep a copy.
ALWAYS REMEMBER TO…
- Keep a written record. Save copies of letters you send to your landlord. Save receipts. Keep a log of what the landlord said or did to you, noting the place and date that each incident took place. In the case of harassment, note any witnesses as well.
- If the harassment persists, write a letter to the landlord spelling out the offensive behavior. Include dates and times. If the harassment continues, you might consider a decrease in services petition at the Rent Board (if you’re under rent control), a Small Claims Court action or consulting with an attorney about some other kind of legal action.
- You have the right to file for a Restraining Order in Superior Court restricting when your landlord may contact you. Forms are available at the Superior Court Clerk at the Superior Courthouse, corner of Polk and McAllister Streets.
WHAT IS IT?
WHAT DO THEY ACTUALLY DO TO THE BUILDING?
WILL I HAVE TO MOVE?
IF I LIVE ON THE GROUND FLOOR, HOW DO I KNOW IF I WILL HAVE TO BE RELOCATED?
COMPENSATION FOR DISRUPTION
Even if you do not have to move, your tenancy may be disrupted by the seismic retrofit work. This might include temporary loss of parking or storage. If this happens your landlord must either provide a substituted replacement service or financial compensation for the value of the lost service, capped at 15% of your rent for each service
As of April 11, 2022, tenant associations in San Francisco in buildings with five or more units have new rights and protections under the Union at Home Ordinance.
We will update this page with more information soon, but a summary of protections below is courtesy of Housing Rights Committee of SF:
With this new law:
- You will have the protected right to form an association with the neighbors in your building. For the first time ever, SF tenants have the legal right to “certify” an association in their building. If your building is five units or more and owned by a private landlord, then you and your neighbors are eligible to form an association using this new law. The process is simple: Submit a letter to your landlord with a majority (50%+1) of existing units signed on (just one leaseholder per unit is sufficient).
- New protections for flyering, door-knocking, and holding tenant meetings on-site. While SF tenants have had the right to flyer their buildings, tenants now have expanded rights to door-knock in their buildings, hold tenant meetings on-site in common areas and their units, and allow non-resident advocates to enter their buildings and speak with tenants about their rights.
- New legal requirement for the landlord to meet and negotiate with the association. For the first time ever in the country, a landlord whose tenants form an association has the legal obligation to “meet and confer” with the association. An association can request a meeting, decide on their own who attends (including non-resident advocates), raise issues to the landlord, present proposals to resolve those issues, and request agreements in writing.
- These new rights and protections become classified as official housing services. Just like plumbing and heat, all these new rights—called “organizing activities” in the law—will be classified as an official housing services. This means that tenants’ right to flyer, door-knock, form an association, and negotiate with their landlords are all on par with tenants’ rights to working appliances and quiet enjoyment.
What topics might an association negotiate? Possibilities include:
- Building maintenance and improvements, safety, and security
- Construction projects and noise levels
- Rent levels and passthroughs
- Parking, storage, and other housing services
- If the landlord violates any of these rights or protections, then you and your neighbors are entitled to rent reductions. Instead of relying on civil court and lawsuits for enforcement, this law empowers tenants to seek rent reductions if landlords disrupt any organizing activity. Because all these rights are now housing services, a tenant association can submit a multi-unit petition at the Rent Board for rent reductions for all members—a more immediate and impactful remedy than a lengthy lawsuit.