Moving Roommates and Romantic Partners into Your Rent-Controlled San Francisco Apartment

Moving Roommates and Romantic Partners into Your Rent-Controlled San Francisco Apartment

Moving Roommates and Romantic Partners into Your Rent-Controlled San Francisco Apartment


Moving Roommates and Romantic Partners into Your Rent-Controlled San Francisco Apartment

For most couples, deciding to move in together is a big step in their relationship. But for love birds living in San Francisco, moving your partner into your rent-controlled apartment may require a few extra steps.

This process might seem like a simple formality, but skipping it could allow your landlord to claim you’ve broken the lease (even if it isn’t true) and try to have you removed.

At Wolford Wayne, we recommend that tenants in rent-controlled apartments look at their lease before having a roommate or a partner move in. Depending on the terms of your lease and the size of your space, you may or may not be able to have another person move in and may need to get permission from your landlord first.

Below are important tips for anyone in San Francisco considering sharing their rent-controlled apartment with a roommate, partner, or family member.

Landlord Approval for New Occupants

Before you move anyone in, be sure to take a look at your lease. Some leases require that you get a landlord’s written consent before they can move in, and other leases even prohibit roommates. While in the past landlords would try and use this as a basis for eviction, landlords now cannot prevent you from having a roommate move in so long as you go through the legal process and you aren’t violating the city’s for the size of your home.

If your lease requires prior written approval, your landlord may require your new roommate or partner to complete a rental application. If the new occupant will have a legal obligation to pay rent, then other requirements like creditworthiness may also be considered. However, landlords cannot “unreasonably” deny a tenant’s request, and the “reasonable” causes recognized by the city are limited. For example, if the intended occupant threatens the health or safety of the building's current tenants, the landlord may be within their rights to deny the request. For more information on the process, check out San Francisco Rent Ordinance Rules and Regulations Sections 6.15A and 6.15B.

Notify Your Landlord in Advance

While there’s an old saying about asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission, because you generally have a right to have a partner, family member, or roommate move in, you are generally better off following the rules. If you move someone in without following the proper process, you may risk escalating tensions with your landlord.

Are you afraid your landlord will deny your partner the right to move in? Don’t worry because the San Francisco Rules and Regulations state that your landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent. If your landlord requires them to fill out an application, they need to do it. But if the landlord doesn’t respond to the application, they may forfeit the right to object.

Your Right to Have a Family Member or Domestic Partner Move In

According to Section 6.15D of the San Francisco Rent Board’s Rules and Regulations, a tenant is allowed to have certain family members move into their unit as long as the additional occupant(s) will not create a violation of the city’s occupancy regulations. Under this rule, a romantic partner is considered a family member if they are registered with the county clerk as a domestic partner. Other family members who may be eligible to move in include the tenant’s:

  • Child(ren)
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchild(ren)
  • Siblings
  • Spouse; or
  • The spouse or domestic partner of any of the family members listed above.

Contact a San Francisco Tenant’s Rights Attorney

San Francisco’s laws recognize the right of tenants to have a family member or partner live with them, but there are some restrictions. If your landlord is unreasonably denying your request for a relative or partner to move in, you may be able to take legal action.

The tenant's rights attorneys at Wolford Wayne protect the rights of people who are illegally harassed by their landlord or wrongfully evicted. If you have a dispute with your landlord that is threatening your ability to stay in your home, contact our office to see how we can help.

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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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