In San Francisco, we face a unique set of rules and regulations for a San Francisco rental agreement when it comes to renting out property. While I am not a lawyer and I cannot give out legal advice, I’m happy to help San Francisco landlords by sharing what I’ve learned over the years. There are three important things landlords should remember when they are managing lease agreements for their tenants:
1. Use the SFAA lease. The San Francisco Apartment Association (SFAA) prepares an excellent lease agreement that covers everything that needs to be included. You can call them and either purchase a one-time lease for a flat fee, or you can join the association, which I highly recommend. They have a lot of great resources for landlords and property owners. The SFAA lease is written by a team of San Francisco lawyers and it is specific to the rent control needs in San Francisco.
2. Make sure that everyone who moves into the unit signs the lease. Do not try to outsmart the rent control ordinance by having one person sign the lease and leaving everyone else off of it. Anyone who is living in your property must be on the lease, and you have to make sure it is signed by everyone who is living there. However, when there are roommate changes, do not add anyone to the lease. The original tenants who signed the lease are the “master tenants” – anyone who moves in after that is an unauthorized sub tenant. You do not want to add people to the lease as this gives them tenant status under the rent control ordinance (which they do not get if they are treated as an unauthorized sub tenant).
3. Don’t lose the lease. This is very important. If you have no written agreement with your tenants you will have no way to enforce any rules. Make sure you put the original signed lease in a safe place, and make several copies that you can have on hand and access quickly. You don’t want to find yourself in the situation where you cannot produce the signed lease.
When you and your tenants are preparing to sign the San Francisco rental agreement, make sure you are using a lease produced by the SFAA, have everyone’s signature on the lease and that you don’t lose it. These are the most important considerations for San Francisco landlords. If you have any questions about rental agreements, please give us a call at Gordon Property Management.