Industry experts have keen insight into San Francisco’s evolving rent control laws. Without the necessary expertise, however, grasping this information can prove challenging.

It’s for this reason we at Leading SF use our extensive know-how to arm property managers and investors with essential knowledge. With our guidance, we breathe simplicity and convenience into comprehending rent control laws in San Francisco.

If you’re looking to make more informed property management and investment decisions, we’ve got you covered.

Rent Control 101

Before delving into the Golden Gate City’s rent control laws, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what rent control is.

Also known as rent regulation, rent control is a policy that imposes restrictions on how much tenants can be charged for rent. Rent control dictates how often rent can change, identifies who oversees these increases, and touches on the legalities of these affairs.

Simply put, these regulations freeze a tenant’s rent and, in turn, ensure affordable housing. Unfortunately, San Francisco is known for its high cost of living, which is why rent control is of paramount importance.

Rent Control in San Francisco

More than four decades ago, San Francisco passed a law protecting renters who live in buildings established before June 13, 1979. This ordinance also applies to those who reside in commercial spaces, work lofts, and in-law units. Single-family homes and commercial units don’t fall into these categories, but this legislation impacts 60 percent of San Francisco’s rental units.

In essence, if the building’s paperwork was issued after June 13, 1979, tenants can be evicted without notice, and the landlord can raise the rent as they see fit.

However, when protected under the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance, rent can only increase according to government instruction, if the cost of living index shifts, or if the tenant receives a 30-day notice.

Rent control protects renters so they won’t live in fear of an impending eviction. In order to evict, the landlord must have a just cause, which the San Francisco Tenants Union outlines here.

Rent Increases: What You Need to Know

It’s up to the San Francisco Rent Board to decide how much landlords can raise the rent.

The maximum is 7 percent per year, and the average increase in 2020 was 1.8 percent. Unlike the rules in Los Angeles, San Francisco renters are not required to pay more if they welcome a new roommate or baby to their living situation.

In 2019, other changes were made to statewide rent control laws. More specifically, California passed a law stating that yearly rent increases were limited to a maximum of 10 percent. This legislation only applies to tenants living in buildings that were constructed between 1979 and 2005. Rent can change from occupant to occupant, and the amount that each renter pays is at the landlord’s discretion.

Eviction: What You Need to Know

As previously mentioned, landlords are required to prove honest intent before evicting a resident. If the landlord is within their legal rights and has no ulterior motives, they can remove a tenant from their apartment immediately.

Some of the most common reasons tenants are evicted are listed below:

  • Late payment
  • Destruction of property
  • Tenant violates terms of rental agreement
  • Landlord is not granted access to unit
  • Building is demolished because it’s uninhabitable

Landlords can also evict a tenant if they want to use the unit for themselves. For instance, if they’re converting the unit into a condo, moving in, or making improvements for financial gain. In some cases, the occupant may be offered a buyout or relocation benefits to compensate for the inconvenience.

Rent Control: Friend Or Foe?

The obvious benefits of rent control include lowered financial burdens for tenants, less tenant turnover, and peace of mind for tenants.

Though rent control promotes affordability and provides hope to low-income residents, there are some downsides to these regulations. In fact, research shows that the availability of rental housing has decreased since 1994. Soon after, rental prices increased, thereby widening the income gap.

Experts attribute these events to the increase in rent-controlled units. Even still, San Francisco’s rent control laws remain a model for California’s statewide rulings.

Your Trusted Partner in Property Management

The ins and outs of property management, rent control, and other industry topics can be quite tricky to navigate.

It’s common for real estate investors and rental property owners to become overwhelmed by the details of new rules and regulations. But with seasoned professional property managers like Leading SF on your side, you can rest assured that you’re receiving the information you need.

If you have any questions about rent control in San Francisco, concerns about a property you’re managing, or want insight into ongoing industry developments, give us a call. (415) 346-8600