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How the San Francisco Rent Ordinance Protects Tenants’ Rights

How the San Francisco Rent Ordinance Protects Tenants’ Rights

How the San Francisco Rent Ordinance Protects Tenants’ Rights


How the San Francisco Rent Ordinance Protects Tenants’ Rights

In San Francisco, most tenants are protected by the San Francisco rent ordinance, which controls the cost of rent and requires a just cause for eviction. The San Francisco Rent Board administers this ordinance, and there are several key ways it protects a tenant’s rights.

Wolford Wayne LLP is dedicated to serving tenants in San Francisco, as well as Oakland and Berkeley, who were wrongfully evicted. Understanding the protections you have under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance is a good first step in determining if your landlord is acting improperly.

If you’ve been subject to a wrongful eviction, contact us to discuss your specific case.

Main Components of Rent Control Under the Rent Ordinance

The law covering rent limitations and eviction procedures in San Francisco is the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance, commonly called the Rent Ordinance. Here is an overview of some of the main protections created by the ordinance:

  • Landlords can only increase rent by limited amounts each year in most circumstances. Certain other increases may also be requested by petition, such as Capital Improvement Passthroughs, which can result in increases of up to 10%, or Operation and Maintenance costs which can lead to increases of up to 7%. However, any rent increases need to be approved and documented by the Rent Board before they can be enforced. Additionally, the tenant may be granted a hardship exemption for these “passthrough” charges if applicable.
  • If the landlord removes services listed in the lease, such as parking, storage spaces, or washers and dryers, or if the landlord fails to keep the property safe and livable, tenants may petition the Rent Board to have their rent reduced due to housing code violations or reductions in service.
  • Unless the tenant and landlord share a rental unit, a landlord can only evict a tenant for a reason included in the 16 “just causes” outlined by the ordinance. While many of these evictions involve allegations that the tenant can dispute, some are “no-fault.”

How Do Rent Increases Work Under the Rent Ordinance? 

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance ensures that landlords of units covered by the ordinance cannot increase rent without limit. Rent increases are only allowed by the Rent Board based on inflation or when passing on certain costs that do not require a petition to the Rent Board. This can include the cost of some bond measures or utility passthroughs when paid by the landlord. Other potential rent increases subject to the rent ordinance include: 

  • Annual Rent Increases: Annual rent increases can be enacted on or after the lease anniversary date and cannot be given before 12 months have passed from the previous increase. The landlord may also “bank” annual increases and impose them in later years.  
  • 90-Day Notices. San Francisco landlords must provide a 90-day notice of annual rent increases of more than 10%. For rent increases that are under 10%, a 30-day notice is acceptable.
  • Capital Improvement Rent Increases. Any improvements to the building in which the tenant resides, which are referred to as capital improvements, are generally paid by tenants through a passthrough. The landlord must petition the Rent Board after completing the work and have the rent increase approved before the costs can be transferred to the tenants.

Contact a San Francisco Wrongful Eviction Attorney to Discuss Your Case

Rent increases are limited under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, which can help protect tenants’ rights. If your landlord is attempting to force you out of your home with illegal rent increases, help is available. The wrongful eviction attorneys at Wolford Wayne LLP are dedicated to seeking justice for tenants whose landlord has violated local laws. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

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