San Francisco is known for its complex rental laws and tenant protections. Staying compliant with all of the federal, state, and local laws as well as the shifting requirements of the Rent Board is essential when you invest in rental property here. A fair housing complaint or a delay in returning a security deposit could cause real legal problems for a landlord. 

As we move through 2024, there are some new laws and updated legal interpretations that we’d like to bring to your attention. 

Here’s what you need to know and how you can ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect the rights of your tenants, advocate for your own rights, and remain in solid legal compliance. 

Rent Control Regulations: New Allowable Amount Announced

San Francisco has detailed rent control laws, and those units covered by local and state rent control laws can only have a rental increase once a year when they’re occupied. The Rent Board establishes the allowable amount and enforces your rental increases. 

The new allowable rental increase that’s effective March 1, 2024 is 1.7 percent. If you’re renting out a residential unit in San Francisco, your rental increase between March 1 and February 28, 2025 cannot be more than 1.7 percent. 

San Francisco Rent Board Reporting Requirements

All residential rental homes in San Francisco must be registered, and landlords have to be licensed. If your property is vacant, you still need to be licensed and meet all the reporting requirements of the Rent Board. If you don’t, you won’t be able to legally raise your rent when it’s time, and there will likely be other penalties. 

The Rent Board provides an online portal for registration, reporting, and the payment of your annual fees. Make sure you’re attentive to any correspondence from the Rent Board.

Fire Alarm Upgrades in San Francisco Rental Homes

Rental property owners with buildings that have three or more units had until July, 2023 to upgrade their fire alarms to meet a “pillow test,” which essentially provides sound requirements for your fire alarms. 

If you’re investing in a renovation or new construction, or you’re updating your fire alarms in an older building, make sure you’re installing alarms that meet the new sound requirements. This is good practice even if you don’t own a building with more than three units; the laws are always changing, and it doesn’t hurt to be out ahead of potential future requirements. 

Security Deposit Limitations

Another significant legal change that’s coming to the San Francisco rental market and the entire state of California is the changing limit on what you can collect in a security deposit. Beginning in July of 2024, you won’t be able to charge more than the equivalent of one month’s rent. Let’s say you’re renting out a home for $2,750. The security deposit you collect cannot be more than $2,750. 

Micro-Mobility Devices and Battery Powered Devices

New LawSB 712, a new law that went into effect this year, makes it unlawful for a landlord to prohibit a tenant from owning personal micro-mobility devices or from storing and recharging up to one personal micro-mobility device in their dwelling unit for each person occupying the unit, subject to certain conditions and exceptions.

Personal micro-mobility devices are generally e-bikes, but can also be scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, and e-scooters. What this law means is that you cannot ban the storage and recharging of personal micro-mobility devices in the property as long as those devices: 

  • Are not powered by an electric motor, or
  • They comply with certain safety standards for e-bikes and e-scooters 

If the device does not comply with safety standards, the tenant must have insurance that covers the storage of the device inside the rental home. Batteries for e-bikes should comply with either the UL 2849 standard, recognized by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, or the EN 15194 European Standard for electrically powered assisted cycles. 

Protect yourself with strong property management in San Francisco. We’ll keep you in compliance and update you as new laws take effect. Contact us at Gordon Property Management.