If you have rented out a property in San Francisco for any amount of time, you know that there are many laws, requirements, and ordinances that must be followed in order to comply with the state laws and those enforced by the San Francisco Rent Board.
Most of the San Francisco rental laws that you have to deal with involve rent control, eviction, and security deposits.
It’s always a good idea to review your lease agreements as well as your leasing and management practices to ensure you’re in compliance with all the rental laws that apply to you.
Here’s how to know you’re not in danger of making an expensive legal mistake.
Do San Francisco Rental Laws Apply to You?
First, you’ll need to know which laws you’re required to be in compliance with, and which laws exempt you from compliance. Most tenants in San Francisco rental properties are protected against unlimited rental increases and evictions without just cause.
There are some exceptions. Your tenants are only partially protected if:
- Your investment property was built after June 13, 1979.
- You’re renting out a single-family home or a condo and the tenancy began after 1996.
You don’t have to follow any tenant protections if you’re renting out commercial space, running a boarding house, or leasing a home on federally owned land.
Generally, the owners and properties we work with must comply with all the rental laws. Unless you know for sure you’re exempt, proceed under the assumption that you must follow them.
Complying with San Francisco’s Most Important Laws
When you aren’t sure whether you’re complying with necessary laws or not, it’s a good idea to reach out to a San Francisco property manager or an attorney specializing in landlord/tenant law. You need to know you’re on the right side of these laws.
- Rent Control
If a tenant has rent control protection, the landlord can only increase the tenant’s rent by a certain percentage each year. That amount is established and enforced by the Rent Board. For rent-controlled units, the annual allowable increase amount effective March 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024 is 3.6 percent. Don’t raise your rent more than that beginning on March 1, 2023.
- Fair Housing
When you’re marketing your home, screening tenants, and working with your residents, everyone must be treated consistently. Federal fair housing laws protect seven classes, and state laws take things further. You need to know what you can and cannot consider when making rental decisions. You need to know the difference between pets, service dogs, and support animals. You need to understand that Section 8 tenants are permitted to apply for your property, using their housing voucher as income.
Rent Board Fees and Registry
There are reporting requirements that property owners need to know about. These requirements apply to all residential rental homes in San Francisco, whether they’re vacant, occupied, single-family homes, or units in a multi-family building.
There’s also a licensing requirement for San Francisco landlords, which enables you to increase the rent by allowable amounts once a year. If you don’t comply with the reporting requirements, you do not get the license you need to raise the rent.
Use the online portal through the Rent Board to register your properties, report the required information, and pay your annual rent board fees.
Fire Alarm Upgrades in San Francisco Rental Properties
New laws have been passed recently to clarify the existing requirements around fire alarms.
Sound level requirements are now in place, especially for those fire alarms located in and around sleep areas. Whether you’re upgrading your current fire alarm or installing one for the first time in a renovated space or new construction, pay attention to the sound requirements that need your compliance.
These are just a few of San Francisco’s most important rental laws. If you need some help examining your own processes to ensure compliance, we’re the best resource for you. Contact us at Gordon Property Management, and leverage our experience.