The San Francisco Rent Ordinance regulates rent and eviction controls for residential units which are not exempt from regulations. Jurisdiction over rent control and eviction control are not identical, but they often do overlap. However, just because a residential unit is exempt from rent control does not necessarily mean the unit is exempt from eviction control.
Until January 20, 2020, with limited exceptions, the Rent Ordinance only applied eviction controls to properties constructed before June 13, 1979. Exempt from eviction controls were newly constructed units built after June 13, 1979, properties which had undergone substantial rehabilitation and remodeling, and live-work spaces. San Francisco Local Ordinance 296-19 amended the Rent Ordinance on January 20, 2020, to now apply eviction controls to virtually all rental units in San Francisco, including previously exempt newly constructed units, units which had undergone substantial rehabilitation, and live-work spaces. Federal housing (Fort Mason and the Presidio, etc.), dormitories, health care facilities, and commercial properties remain exempt. A full list of exemptions from the Rent Ordinance can be found on the Rent Board’s web page. As a practical matter, unless you’re running hotel, a school dorm, a healthcare facility, or a convent, your San Francisco residential property is most likely eviction controlled.
What does that mean for property owners? Once a tenant has been in possession for over thirty days, they cannot be evicted without meeting one of the sixteen grounds for just cause under the Rent Ordinance. Those sixteen grounds fall under either “at fault” or no fault” evictions. “At fault” is an eviction based on a tenant doing something wrong or not doing something required. Not paying rent, breaching a material lease term, or committing a nuisance are typical at fault evictions. “No fault” is an eviction where a tenant has not done anything wrong but is being evicted nonetheless. An owner move-in or relative move-in eviction, Ellis Act withdrawal, or capital improvements eviction are typical no fault evictions. San Francisco property owners are often surprised to learn that besides needing just cause to evict, they also must make relocation payments to tenants for no-fault evictions. Relocation payments currently start at $7,421 per tenant and can easily exceed $25,000. Additionally, the noticing requirements for no-fault evictions start at sixty days and in some cases can be extended up to a year. Moreover, certain protections may limit when some no-fault eviction notices can be served and in particular cases they can be precluded entirely. No such protections, timing constraints, or relocation payments are required for at-fault evictions. Although the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has recently tried to require additional noticing and timing constraints for at-fault evictions, the attorneys at Zacks, Freedman and Patterson successfully pushed back.
Another consequence of Local Ordinance 296-19’s expansion of eviction controls is that it subjects a greater population of landlords to wrongful eviction disputes under the Rent Ordinance, and to regulation by the Rent Ordinance’s buyout procedures contained in Section 37.9E of the Ordinance. One silver lining of the Local Ordinance 296-19’s expansion of eviction controls, however, is the associated exemption from the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Where the Tenant Protection act of 2019 could have arguably created rent controls for otherwise exempt newly constructed units as well as single-family homes, their inclusion in Local Ordinance 296-19 ensures that these types of units under most circumstances remain exempt from the Rent Ordinance’s rent controls.
This eviction information is provided by San Francisco Real Estate Attorney Mark Chernev. If you are curious about learning more about eviction controls in San Francisco, or about the application of Local Ordinance 296-19 on a property you own, you should Contact the experienced real estate attorneys of Zacks, Freedman, & Patterson for guidance.