In general, apartment buildings constructed before June 14, 1979; illegal units (such as in-law apartments); and single family homes and condos with tenants that moved in prior to 01/01/96 are fully covered by rent control which limits annual rent increases (1.5% from 3/1/07 to 3/28/08) and requires one of 14 “just causes” for an eviction. Tenants of single family homes and condos who moved in on or after 01/01/96 are only afforded the eviction protection. Again, in general.
Complete “unofficial” rules and regulations are available via the City of San Francisco’s Rent Board while the San Francisco Tenants Union maintains a relatively comprehensive overview.
City of San Francisco: The Rent Board [SFGov]
San Francisco Tenants Union: Rent Control in San Francisco [SFTU]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Anonymous Jr.

    And for a dramatic rendition of San Francisco’s tenant-friendly rent-control laws, rent the movie thriller “Pacific Heights” (1990), starring Michael Keaton. (I said rent it , don’t buy it!)

  2. Posted by Anon

    Beware of one thing: The SF Tenants Union’s explanation of the rules are not necessarily correct. While some of their explanations are accurate, other explanations are what they would LIKE the law to be, not what it is. Therefore, don’t rely on what they say; use them as a starting point and double check with an unbiased source.
    [Editor’s Note: We’d obviously expect some bias from the SFTU (which is why we provided the link to the Rent Board), but if there’s any blatantly inaccurate information on their site we’d like to set the record straight. Examples?]

  3. Posted by redseca2

    San Francisco in the early ’80’s was going fine without rent control. Sure it was a left dream issue, similar to the perenial taking over of PG&E by the City, but the votes were not there. Then in the blink of an eye, Trinity/Sangiacomo properties announced across the board rent increases of very substantial percentages of a 25% or more for the hundreds of units they controlled – just weeks before Christmas. The hue and cry this brought caused gave the pro-rent control supes a majority and there you have it.

  4. Posted by Sam

    How and to whom do you reoprt illegal inlaw units in San Francisco?

  5. Posted by Joseph Lapid

    I want to buy a property in San Francisco that has an existing tenant. I want to occupy the property as my residence. Can I evict the existing Tenenat? Will I be constrained or restricted by the San Francisco Rent Law?

  6. Posted by Faye Johnson

    If the owners expire and the heirs want to sell a property that has tenants, is there a legal agreement between heirs and tenants where tenants accept cash to move without using the Ellis Act?
    The Ellis Act makes the property inactive for five long years.

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