Tenant Resources in San Francisco
Tenant rights are a huge issue in the City by the Bay. Given that we live in a competitive and pricey rental market, it stands to reason that there may be some contentious issues that arise between tenants and landlords. That’s why as a tenant, you need to know your rights and where you stand when you’re looking for San Francisco real estate rentals and hoping to find your home in one of the best apartments in San Francisco.
Here are a few things you need to know and sites you should be checking out:
- San Francisco Tenants Union. The group’s mission statement is “to promote the preservation and expansion of the rights of tenants and the supply of affordable housing”. In addition to a counseling clinic and membership opportunities, the Tenants Union covers rights including:
- Rent control
- AirBnB and short-term rentals
- Condo and TIC conversions
- Habitability and repairs
- Landlord harassment
- San Francisco Rent Board. Your friends at the Rent Board are some of the most powerful allies that you will have as a San Francisco tenant. Just a few of the topics covered on this comprehensive site include:
- Security deposits
- Roommates and subletting
- Other landlord/tenant issues including parking, storage, and noise issues
- Landlord petitions and pass-throughs
- Tenant petitions
- Hearings, mediations, and appeals
- SF Curbed has collected a group of rent laws that – in their words –“your landlord probably doesn’t want you to know”. These include:
- Tenant law is applicable even if your unit is illegal. This is because, by definition, illegal units are lacking a certificate of occupancy, and without this, landlords cannot claim that the unit was created after 1979 and therefore not applicable to the Rent Ordinance. This also includes standard eviction protections that cover other tenants in the city of San Francisco.
- You have the right to the interest that accrues courtesy of your security deposit. If you’ve lived in your unit for at least a year – and don’t live in subsidized housing – you are entitled to that interest upon moving out. This means everyone, not just those protected under the Rent Ordinance.
- Since great views can cause your rent to skyrocket, you have the right to petition for lowered rent should something come along – new construction, for example, not that San Francisco would know anything about that these days – to block that view. You’ll need to file a decrease in services petition with the Rent Board – and only if you are protected by the Rent Ordinance. Market-rate tenants, you’re out of luck on this one.
- If you get evicted for just cause, the owner is typically required to pay $5,300 per tenant for relocation expenses. Illegal units are covered here as well.
- If your tenants do an owner move-in, they must move in within three months of your departure and live there for at least three years. Should this not occur, you must be offered the apartment back at your former rental rate.
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