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San Francisco Rent Ordinance

The City and County of San Francisco passed its Rent Ordinance in 1979, initially as emergency legislation in order respond to a perceived crisis in the economics of rental housing that was causing the displacement of long-term tenants, including senior citizens. The Rent Ordinance limits rent increases for tenants in occupancy, and protects tenants from evictions in order to preserve low-cost housing in San Francisco. Tenants who are protected under the Rent Ordinance may not be evicted for no reason or any reason, but only based upon one of the enumerated "just causes", such as non-payment or rent, nuisance, or owner-occupancy.

The Rent Ordinance has become increasingly restrictive and complicated over the years. In general, it applies to all rental units that were built before 1979, except, in many instances, single-family dwellings, including condominiums. But, even though rent control may not apply, the eviction protections may still cover such single-family dwellings. The Rent Ordinance is administered through the San Francisco Rent Board, which has promulgated numerous regulations in order to implement and amplify the Rent Ordinance.

The tight housing market in San Francisco, and the disparity between market rents and rents controlled under the Rent Ordinance, has resulted in growing contention and discord between landlords and tenants. Landlords and tenants are often uninformed concerning their respective rights under the law. Expert legal advice is often necessary in order to protect the interests of the parties in disputes arising in this context. Over the past twenty-plus years, our office has been pleased to offer such expert advice and assistance.