Do You Know Your Rights As a San Francisco Tenant?

Do You Know Your Rights As a San Francisco Tenant?

It is no great surprise to know that San Francisco rent prices are among the country’s highest. In fact, in 2019, the cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was the second-highest on the planet, only behind Hong Kong. While the Bay Area’s price rents have dropped since the pandemic, it is still high compared to the national average.

The rationale for the high cost of renting in San Francisco is basic economics. There is far too much demand for a limited resource. Even though more and more companies and their employees realize that remote working is a viable option, it has not made it significantly easier to find a great rental property. In these situations, it is easy for scrupulous landlords to take advantage of the situation. Do you know your rights as a San Francisco tenant?

San Francisco tenants are some of the most protected in the nation. Landlords have a code of conduct to adhere to and are controlled by the San Francisco Rent Board. While there are plenty of excellent, well-meaning, and compassionate landlords out there, a few bad apples can make life incredibly challenging for ill-advised tenants. Whether you are filling out an initial rental application or have lived in a home for decades, it is integral to know your rights and where to turn in case of a dispute.

Rent Control

The most important date for renters in San Francisco is June 13th, 1979. Although the numbers are dwindling of people that received a certificate of occupancy before this magical date, there are still plenty of lucky ones that can take advantage of The Rental Ordinance of 1979. If you are one of them, then you have numerous protections, including from large rent increases or evictions. If you have been renting an illegal property that was never given an occupancy permit, then you still can be privy to these protections.

Check the lease

Upon signing a lease, it might not seem like a big deal whose name appears. However, this can create a maze of legal loopholes and difficulties when it comes time to vacating a property or trying to have someone evicted in the case of a breakup. The person on the lease is considered the master tenant. They are much like a landlord for any subsequent subtenants that may occupy the property from a legal perspective.

Security Deposit

Any reputable landlord is going to ask for a security deposit. Even though it is yet another considerable expense on top of moving bills, it would be worrying if a landlord didn’t request this as it could mean that the rental is not legally zoned. All security deposits should be accruing interest, and your landlord is legally required to give you this interest upon your departure.

Before your landlord takes anything from your security deposit for repairs, damages, or cleaning expenses, they are required to notify their tenants that they have a right to an inspection. The aim is to give the tenant time to clean or make obligatory repairs before any deductions are made from their security deposit. As a tenant, you should get the remainder of your security deposit, and the accrued interest, within three weeks of vacating the property.

Renters in San Francisco are privy to a lot of protections under the law; however, this doesn’t mean that situations can’t get stressful or confusing. The San Francisco Rent Board is available for free advice should you need it. When renting a property, keep in mind that if a landlord does a thorough tenant check, it shows professionalism that will likely extend for your tenancy duration. Be wary of landlords that cut corners and are just looking for quick cash.

Just Posted

Cabernet sauvignon grapes sat in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
San Francisco’s ‘Champagne problems’ — Wine industry suffers supply chain woes

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

Glasses behind the bar at LUNA in the Mission District on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. Glassware is just one of the many things restaurants have had trouble keeping in stock as supply chain problems ripple outward. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF restaurants face product shortages and skyrocketing costs

‘The supply chain crisis has impacted us in almost every way imaginable’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

Most Read