We often get questions at Wolford Wayne about whether tenants must sign a new lease. Depending on the circumstances, a tenant may be obligated to sign a new lease. Understanding your rights and requirements as a tenant is vital to protecting yourself and your tenancy. Keep reading to learn more about your rights regarding a new lease.
While tenants in homes protected by eviction control can’t be evicted just because their lease is up, a landlord can require a tenant to sign a new lease for the same lease term provided that the lease is “materially the same.” Specifically, the San Francisco Rent Ordinance states that refusing to sign a new lease that is “materially the same” as your existing lease is a just cause for eviction. So, you must consider your options carefully if you refuse to sign a new lease.
If the owner wants you to sign a new lease without making any changes to the terms of the lease, refusing to sign could put you at risk of an eviction. However, if the new lease has new terms, you may be able to refuse. For example, if your original lease was one page and the new one is twenty pages, you probably have a strong case for not signing.
Under state law, residential leases convert to a month-to-month agreement at the end of the term. So, at the end of each month, the lease renews for another month as long as you are in the home or unit.
As a tenant, you have rights whether or not there is a lease agreement. A landlord-tenant relationship exists if you live in the unit or home and pay rent. Even if there is no lease, the tenancy is subject to tenant protection laws.
If your home is covered under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance, your landlord cannot make significant changes to the terms of your lease. This is true whether or not you ever signed a written lease.
Many renters in the city have an oral, informal agreement with the property owner. If that applies to you, the only agreement you would be required to sign is one stating your monthly rent, when it is due, and any other information specific to your agreement (for example, if a parking space is included in the lease). For many renters, an oral lease can be a benefit over a written lease because it is more lenient. However, if you don’t have a written lease, the risk is that it can be harder to prove what you agreed to, particularly if your landlord is trying to claim that the terms are different!
What happens if someone buys your apartment building? Does new ownership affect your lease? The good news for renters is that a change in ownership does not affect your lease. The new landlord must follow the terms of the lease you signed. You are not required to sign another lease. However, be on the lookout for tenant questionnaires/estoppel agreements. Owners will often ask – or even insist – that a tenant fill out one of these forms in anticipation of a sale. Because a signed estoppel form can be binding, we do not recommend filling one out until you’ve spoken to a tenant’s rights attorney or counselor. For more information, check out our article on what to do when your landlord is selling your building.
The landlord-tenant relationship starts when you pay rent and move in. So, you still have rights even if there is no written lease. If the landlord wants you to sign an agreement in the future, you are not required to sign a document with different terms than the current ones.
As mentioned, refusal to sign a lease with the same terms could be just cause for eviction. However, if you are being asked to sign a lease with new terms and are concerned about being evicted, talk to a tenant lawyer at Wolford Wayne. Our lawyers can provide you with detailed legal advice and inform you of your options, so contact us today.
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco couple who were forced to give up their home of over twenty years after their landlord’s dog attacked and killed their dog.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an Oakland tenant who suffered a serious injury due to her landlord’s negligent maintenance of her home.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who suffered personal injuries and was forced to vacate his home of fifteen years after dealing with many months of environmental contamination and disruptive and nuisance construction conditions.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a group of 30 tenants living in an SRO in San Francisco who were living with horrendous conditions in their rent controlled apartments, including rodents, bedbugs, mold, water leaks and harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three families living in a building in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood who were forced to live with substandard conditions for years as a result of their landlord’s negligence, including issues with lack of heat, lack of hot water and cockroach/rat infestations.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board.Read More
Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three long-term tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood who were constructively evicted due to noise and nuisance conditions created by their downstairs neighbors, which the owner refused to address.Read More
Recovered on behalf of elderly, disabled tenant who was forced to move out of her rent-controlled San Francisco apartment of 50 years after landlord/owner failed to resolve numerous building code violations that remained outstanding for over a decade.Read More
Recovered on behalf of seven tenants living in a makeshift boarding house in East Palo Alto.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two former San Francisco tenants who were evicted via an Owner Move-In Eviction and owner failed to occupy the unit as her primary place of residence.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who was forced to vacate his home as a result of ongoing, disruptive construction and the owners’ refusal to provide him with alternative housing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a tenant living in an illegal “in-law” unit. In this case, a new owner purchased the building and then demolished our client’s unit without permits while she was displaced for seismic retrofitting.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two long term San Francisco tenants who were fraudulently evicted from their home of over twenty years under the pretext of an owner move-in eviction.Read More
Recovered for tenant who was injured when their stairway railing collapsed at the tenant’s Mission District apartment building.Read More
Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More