Rights & Responsibilities
Top Five Rights to Know
- Your landlord can't raise your apartment rent as often or as much as they want: The current legal rent increase (through Feb. 29, 2020) is 2.6 percent. Rents can only be raised once every 12 months. If an owner does not raise the rent for at least 24 months, those increases can be "banked" for a future, larger increase.
- You can't evict your roommates, unless you are the master-tenant: If all tenants are on the original lease, one tenant cannot evict another tenant. However, when there is a master tenant and a subtenant and the building falls under rent control, the master tenant acts as the landlord to the subtenant. Just like in a landlord-tenant relationship, the master tenant cannot evict the subtenant for no reason, but can evict for nuisance, nonpayment of rent or other "just-cause" reasons.
- You can get a rent reduction if rental repairs are not made in a timely manner: The rent board suggests notifying landlords of needed repairs with both a letter and a phone call. If those requests go unanswered, reach out again and let the landlord know that you can report them to the city’s health and/or building departments if the repairs go unfixed. Residents should make sure their requests are dated and keep copies; it will come in handy if a rent board hearing is required for a reduction in rent due to a substantial decrease in housing services.
- Your landlord can't enter your apartment without proper notice: The landlord is allowed to enter if the tenants are not home, but only for certain reasons and with the proper notice. For example, a landlord or a landlord’s agent can make agreed-upon repairs to the unit with at least 24-hours written notice. If the purpose of the visit is to show the building to possible buyers, the landlord only needs to give the notice verbally 24 hours in advance. In case of an emergency, or with the tenant's okay, the landlord can enter immediately.
- You get an inspection before you move out so that any necessary repairs or need for cleaning are made clear before deductions are taken out: Security deposit law is set by the state, not the city, and requires landlords to notify their tenants that they have the right to an inspection of the unit within two weeks before they depart so that any necessary repairs or need for cleaning are made clear. Deductions can be made for any damage beyond "normal wear and tear" or any unpaid rent or bills. The refundable amount must be paid to the tenant within 21 days of moving out.
The SF Rent Board offers information regarding your rights as a renter, the rights of the landlord, and other important things to know when renting a property in SF. The SF Rent Board also has in person and over the phone counseling.
SF Rent Board Fact Sheets: Tenant Resources
SF Tenant's Union provides important tenant's rights information including rent control, evictions, roommates, landlord issues, etc.
The Housing Rights Committee of SF has information on Tenant's Rights and Tenant Counseling. Their dedicate staff is here to help.