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Indybay Feature

In San Francisco, Tenants Have Rights!

by SF Tenants Union (info [at]
Most housing unites in SF are rent controlled. If yours is, your landlord can only evict you for a "just cause." Your landlord cannot evict you because they feel like it. If your landlord is trying to evict you, get help!
•Your landlord can never force you to sign a new lease that is different from your original lease. (Your landlord can evict you for refusing to sign an identical lease.)

•Your landlord must provide you with a habitable residence. “Habitable” means, among other things, that your unit is in good, safe condition with a sturdy front door and heat. Leaks, infestations, electrical problems, and mold—if not caused directly by your actions—are the landlord’s responsibility to repair.

•If your building is sold, you do not need to sign a new lease. Your old lease is still valid, and (if your building is covered under rent control) your landlord still cannot evict you without a just cause.

•You do not need to let your landlord into your apartment, unless he/she is completing a necessary repair or showing the building to prospective buyers. Your landlord needs to give you 24 hours written notice under those circumstances, and you can negotiate for a reasonable time.

•If you are a rent-controlled tenant, your landlord can only raise your rent by a small amount every year. (It’s usually around two percent.)

•Master tenants are considered landlords when there is a conflict with subtenants. Certain “just cause” regulations apply to them. It is illegal for master tenants to charge subtenants more than a fair proportional share of the rent. Master tenants must disclose the full rent of the apartment, if asked by a subtenant.

•If an original tenant (lease-holder) moves out, and additional roommates stay on, the landlord cannot evict the roommates.

•Your landlord cannot retaliate against you for asserting your rights! Keep a record of landlord (and building manager) activity. Keep a record of everything you do, too. Put requests for repairs and other communication in writing so that you have a good record, just in case. (Email is fine.)

•If you request it, your landlord must inspect the apartment during your last two weeks there and provide a list of all the damages that he/she plans to charge for. This gives you a chance to do any needed cleaning or repairs before moving out and avoid deductions from the deposit.

•Rent Control applies to all units in San Francisco that were constructed before 1979. However, if you live in a single-family home, your landlord can raise your rent to any amount for any reason. If you live in a condo (recently renovated) unit, or live with your landlord, you are not covered under rent control. Illegal units (units that are not up to housing code standards) and residential hotels are covered under rent control.

For more info, contact the San Francisco Tenant’s Union by phone at (415) 282-6622), check out their website or drop by 558 Capp Street in SF.
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