City of San Francisco Tenant Protections

The information below is provided by Tenants Together, based partially on research conducted by the Urban Displacement Project, and was last updated in October 2018. For complete information on the City's tenant protections, please visit their website here.

Disclaimer: This website is for general information and none of the information provided constitutes legal advice. In addition, please note that ordinances are periodically updated, modified, or interpreted by regulations. We recommend contacting the City for the official version of its law in the event that you intend to rely on this information.

Rent control is effective at keeping people in their homes. Rent control policies limit rent increases and provide greater housing stability for tenants. Rent control ordinances in California allow landlords to set the initial rent in any amount, but limit rent increases after a tenancy begins.

Rent control is often combined with eviction protections, known as "just cause for eviction," to make sure that landlords do not get around the rent increase limits by simply evicting tenants arbitrarily and bringing in new tenants. Just Cause protections provide basic fairness and prevent retaliation, discrimination, and harassment proactively.


Rating 1
What regulations does the City have? Just Cause and Rent Control Protections
Year Just Cause was Originally Adopted 1979
Year of Most Recent Just Cause Amendment 2015
Year Rent Control Originally Adopted 1979
Year of Most Recent Rent Control Amendment 2017

Just Cause Protections Summary

What causes for eviction are considered just cause - tenant at-fault?
  • Nonpayment (more nuanced description than in most)
  • Violation of terms of tenancy
  • Nuisance
  • Illegal use of unit
  • Refusal to renew lease
  • Refusal to grant access
  • The tenant holding at the end of the term of the oral or written agreement is a subtenant not approved by the landlord
  • Tenant’s Good Samaritan Status
What causes for eviction are considered just cause - no-fault?
  • Owner/relative move-in
  • Condo conversion
  • Demolition / removal from rental market
  • Temporary removal from rental market for capital improvements or rehabilitation work
  • Substantial rehabilitation
  • Lead remediation or abatement work
  • Demolition / removal from rental market in accordance with development agreement entered into by the City
Key Eligibility and Exemption Summary Eligible units:
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Over-FMR Tenancy program
  • Section 8
  • Federal LIHTC (when a tenant’s occupancy of unit began before LIHTC regulatory agreement was recorded, and rent is not controlled by City agencies)
  • Any unit where a qualifying tenant has been in possession of the unit since 1/19/2007
  • ADUs (accessory dwelling unit)

Noteworthy exemptions from eligibility include:

  • Rental units located in a structure for which a certificate of occupancy was first issued after the effective date of this ordinance (6/13/1979)
  • Unit where substantial rehabilitation was undertaken after effective date of this ordinance
  • Units exempted from rent stabilization by Costa-Hawkins: single family homes

Is there a minimum tenancy for coverage? No
Do protections apply to new construction? No, only applies to buildings built before 6/13/1979
What triggers the obligation to pay relocation assistance?
  • Owner/relative move-in (unless tenant is elderly or disabled, then not justified)
  • Demolition / removal from rental market
  • Temporary removal from rental market for capital improvements
  • Substantial rehabilitation

Rent Control Protections Summary

What units are eligible for rent control and which are exempt?
  • Eligible units: Existing units before 1979
  • Exempt units: Occupancy of unit after June 13 1979, subsidized housing such as HUD housing projects, residential hotel and have less than 32 days of continuous tenancy, dormitory, hospital, monastery, nunnery, etc., single family homes
Additional Details Landlords can only raise a tenant’s rent by a set amount each year (tied to inflation).

Landlords can also petition for other increases. Notably, capital improvements can be passed through to the tenant for a maximum increase of 10% or increased operating and maintenance costs for a maximum increase of 7%, but these rent increases must be documented and approved by the Rent Board before they can be imposed. The tenant can request a hardship exemption for the capital improvement and operating and maintenance passthroughs.

Tenants can petition the Rent Board to decrease their rent if the landlord has failed to provide agreed upon or legally required services—e.g., the landlord takes away storage space, parking, washer/dryer, etc. or the landlord fails to maintain the premises as safe and habitable (e.g. the apartment has uncorrected housing code violations).

Banking Allowed Yes
Does the landlord have to petition for additional increases? Yes
On what grounds is the landlord allowed to petition for additional rent increases? For certain types of rent increases, landlords must file a petition at the Rent Board before serving the tenants with a notice of the increase. The tenants are not required to pay the increase unless and until the Rent Board approves it after a hearing.

There are five types of rent increases that require the filing of a landlord petition. These are:

  • Capital Improvement Passthrough
  • Operating And Maintenance Expense Increase
  • Special Circumstances Increase Based on Rents for Comparable Units
  • Rent Increase Based on the Past Rent History of a Proposition I Affected Unit
  • Utility Passthrough

A landlord is also required to file a petition for a Rent Board determination of:
  • Substantial Rehabilitation Exemption
  • Extension of Time to Complete Capital Improvement Work
  • Tenant in Occupancy Status under Rules and Regulations Section 1.21

Rent Board Summary

Does the City have a Rent Board? Yes
Is the Rent Board appointed or elected? Appointed
Number of Buildings Covered by Rent Control TBD
Number of Buildings Covered by Just Cause Approximately 172,400