If you're a San Francisco tenant renting a below market rent-controlled unit, your landlord may approach you with a buyout agreement. A buyout is when a tenant agrees to leave their apartment in exchange from a payment from their landlord. In this agreement, a tenant typically gives up their right to sue their landlord for any claims that come from their tenancy.
Your landlord will want to negotiate with you, but the agreement is governed by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, and they must follow certain rules before engaging with you. As a tenant, you are entitled to specific protection. Read on to learn about tenants' rights and what you should know about tenant buyouts before entering into one.
The landlord must give the tenant a form which spells out their rights when it comes to the buyout before they can even begin negotiating about the buyout. The specific form is a Pre-Buyout Negotiation Disclosure Form. It informs tenants of these specific rights under the Buyout Ordinance:
The landlord must provide a list of tenants' rights organizations. Additionally, the agreement itself must be in writing so that your landlord can't just promise you a certain amount for the buyout when you're discussing things and change their mind afterward.
If you're a tenant who receives this, you might be concerned with what happens next. You're not under an obligation to respond to the form. However, most tenants will want to get more information about the situation, signing the form, and returning it to the landlord. It can also get the negotiations rolling if the landlord has also completed and filed another form, the Declaration of Landlord Regarding Service of a Pre-Buyout Negotiations Disclosure Form. This form makes the Rent Board aware of the fact that the landlord has notified the tenant of their rights.
If the landlord doesn't provide the written disclosure to the tenant, then the tenant can sue the landlord for damages, including the recovery of attorney fees.
While it's important to understand your rights, there's a lot more to know about buyouts. If you're seriously considering taking a buyout, then act in your best interests and discuss everything with a legal professional first. Wolford Wayne lawyers have many years of experience and can help you proceed with caution before committing to anything. Contact us today for more information.
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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.