Even though SF has some of the country’s highest rents, 62% of all its households are occupied by renters. If you’re planning on renting in the city, knowing your San Francisco tenants’ rights can make your entire relocation much less complicated. Take a look at the benefits of being a renter and learn how to deal with specific problems that may arise during your tenancy.

With almost half of all rentals in the city costing over $2,000 a month, you may have to spend an incredible amount of money just to cover the security deposit. That’s why knowing your San Francisco renter rights can help you fully utilize all your renting benefits, allowing you to navigate your tenancy with ease. The next time you move, you will know how to recuperate your entire deposit, leaving you with more than enough resources to hire a professional Bay Area moving company.

What Are My Rights as a Tenant in California?

Even though SF has some of the highest rents in the entire country, several local and state laws provide plenty of benefits that have made renting much more convenient. Before you start filling out your rental application, you should get acquainted with your tenant rights in SF.

The Ordinance Provides Rent Control Making it One of the Most Important San Francisco Tenant Laws

One of the first San Francisco rental laws you need to know about is The Rent Ordinance. Enforced by the SF Rent Board, it covers all the rent control policies that limit the yearly increase of monthly expenses while offering protection from evictions under specific terms. It encompasses all buildings that had rentals before June 13th, 1979, meaning that the Ordinance covers over 60% of units in the city.

Stabilized Units Have a Yearly Allowable Annual Increase Changes From Year to Year

Any building that fulfills the Ordinance conditions has an allowable annual rent increase that changes every year based on the Consumer Price Index. The most recent raise of 0.8% is effective from March 1st, 2021, through February 28th, 2022. Since this is the lowest price growth since 2011, this year is the perfect time to move to one of the best places to live in the Bay Area.

If a landlord wants to increase your rent costs by this amount, they don’t require permission from the Board to do so. They also have the option to bank these increases and collect them at a later date. If a renter believes the annual increase limit has been exceeded, they have the right to file a complaint with the Board. You should always carefully go through the entire contract before signing and never agree to a month-to-month lease, as the owner will have the option to increase your rent as soon as it expires.

What Is a Protected Tenant in San Francisco?

Protected tenant rights in San Francisco are there to keep especially vulnerable groups from getting evicted under certain conditions. You qualify for the status of a protected tenant if you are:

  • A person aged 60 and older who has been living in the rental for ten or more years,
  • A renter with a disability who has been in the unit for 10+ years,
  • A chronically ill tenant residing in the apartment for five or more years.
A group of elderly people
SF provides additional benefits for elderly and disabled tenants

A Landlord Can’t Rent Housing With Unsatisfying Living Conditions

The Implied Warranty of Habitability in California is another law that protects San Francisco renters’ rights. It states that landlords are required to provide suitable living arrangements in all the housing they are leasing. Some of the conditions that have to be met include:

  • The rental must be clean and usable at the start of the lease,
  • The doors and windows need to be working correctly,
  • There should be no leaks or signs of leaking like mold at the premise,
  • The unit should have hot water available,
  • All types of vermin had to be dealt with accordingly.

These and any other conditions that render living in the rental difficult have to be dealt with immediately. In fact, landlords are prohibited from taking rent from non-functioning units until they’ve resolved the problem.

A man fixing a door lock
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix any problems that occur in the rental

Search for Ways to Deal With a Problematic Landlord

Having a problematic landlord is never amusing, especially if they aren’t willing to cooperate. Fortunately, there are several ways you can deal with them, depending on the situation. When your rental becomes uninhabitable, always inform the owner about the problem in writing. This way, if they don’t fix the situation within a reasonable period, you have the option to file a complaint with the Board or the Department of Building Inspection. Once they inspect the premises, they will notify the owner about the problem requiring they fix it immediately.

While most landlords will respond to this formal request, some may still refuse to act, leaving you with no choice but to take legal action. If you regularly made your monthly payments during this period and can prove negligence, you can easily win the court case and recoup your expenses. Unless you have already relocated by the time everything is finished, you’ll have more than enough resources to hire even the best movers in San Francisco and throw a great moving away party to celebrate your victory.

The Landlord Needs to Provide a 24-Hour Entry Notice When Visiting Your Home

Despite the fact that they might own the place, the California Civil Code (CC) section 1954 clearly states how and when a landlord can enter your home. Firstly, they are required to give you a 24-hour notice before entering the rental, excluding emergencies. Whether it’s to show off the property to an appraiser or do some repairs, they can only visit on weekdays during regular business hours, from 9 AM to 5 PM. If their request was appropriately set up, the renter would have no option but to comply.

However, feel free to file a complaint if the owner abuses the notice, but be aware that the situation may become too uncomfortable. In most cases, it might be better to start looking for a new home by preparing a moving to-do list and hiring one of the moving companies in the Bay Area. If you need some more tips on dealing with a difficult landlord, take a look at the video below.

What Kind of Rights Do Renters Have When Dealing With Noisy Neighbors?

If you lived in a peaceful Bay Area town before relocating to a noisy building, you might have to deal with a lot more moving stress than you probably anticipated. Living in a big city has its challenges, and adjusting to a newborn’s regular cries might be one of them. Although this example won’t be classified as a nuisance, always report a neighbor who continuously refuses to keep it down, especially if it makes living in the rental unbearable. If you contact the landlord and notify them about the situation, they might resolve the issue quickly, or in the worst scenarios, evict the problematic tenant.

- A man and a woman yelling at each other
Constantly arguing neighbors might make the housing unit uninhabitable

What Are the Just Reasons to Evict Tenants in San Francisco?

While the Ordinance protects your tenants’ rights in SF, you still have many obligations even though you are a renter. If you break any of the just-causes for evictions, the owner has a legal right to evict you from the unit. Some of the reasons why you may get evicted include:

  • Failing to pay your monthly rent(s),
  • Contract breaching, like moving with a pet without the landlord’s awareness,
  • Conducting any illegal activity in the rental,
  • Refusing the owner access after you received their written Entry notice,
  • Renovations that may temporarily make the rental uninhabitable,
  • Enacting of Ellis Act state law, which permanently removes the property from the market.

Most Leases Require a Thirty-Day Notice of Termination

Under the CC 1946, both landlords and tenants can terminate the rental agreement, but only when one of the parties gives at least a 30-day written notice of termination. Although you can agree to have a smaller one in writing, this has to be done when the tenancy is created and can’t be shorter than seven days. Since this gives you barely enough time to do anything, let alone look for Bay Area moving companies, we highly recommend you stick with the standard 30-day window.

If you lived in the apartment for over a year, both parties might require a 60-day notice of termination. This would give you more than enough time to pack dishes and plates, move a piano, or hire Bay Area movers. Whatever the notice window may be, you will still have to pay rent even after it was served. Failing to do so could cause the owner to enact a 3-day notice, forcing you to cash out on the spot or face eviction as soon as this shorter period expires.

How Are You Protected From Eviction During the Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire global economy, with many losing their primary source of income. Fortunately, Senate Bill No.91 states that all nonpayment evictions are prohibited until June 30th, 2021. If the recession has affected your ability to pay your monthly rent until this period, and you received your 15-day notice, provide the landlord with signed declarations that state you can’t meet the due date.

Know that this doesn’t mean that your unpaid bills will just go away, as you’ll be required to pay 25% of all the rents you’ve missed. This can be done for each month separately or in a lump sum. Either way, while this may delay your eviction, the owner can still take you to court if all the payments haven’t been made until this period.

A person lighting a joint
Smoking is one of the common just-causes for eviction

Security Deposit Return Is One of the Commonly Underlooked San Francisco Tenants’ Rights

Although security deposit return is one of the general SF tenants’ rights, inexperienced renters often overlook it. Remember that your deposit has to be returned within 21 days of you moving out. Furthermore, while the resources can be used for various purposes, landlords have to account for all deductions they’ve made in written form. If the list doesn’t align with the state of the rental after the final inspection, or the owner refuses to return the deposit within the defined period, you can always take them to small claims court. Under the CC 1950.5, you will be eligible for the full deposit plus a sum twice its total if you can prove the retention was against the law.

Get the Full Deposit Back by Leaving the Housing Unit Spotless

If you get your entire security deposit back, you’ll cover most of the things on your relocation expenses checklist, including hiring local movers in the Bay Area. However, this won’t be an easy task, as building managers can easily spot if something is not right. To avoid any deductions, you’ll need to leave the rental in a perfect state. This will include cleaning everything top to bottom, repairing any damages that might have occurred, or even replacing broken items. It’s also good to deal with any objects movers won’t move, as the cost of removing these will go directly from your deposit. Finally, taking photos of the entire property after you finish cleaning is one of the better relocation hacks since these are proof that you left the place spotless.

A woman vacuuming
Thoroughly cleaning the place will increase your chances of getting the entire deposit back

Now That You Know Everything, Hire Our San Francisco Movers to Assist You With the Relocation

Getting familiar with national, state, and local rental laws and regulations will allow you to utilize the benefits of renting in SF. Now, if you want to move efficiently, you can always get top professional assistance from Golden Bay Relocation. Our San Francisco moving company in the Bay Area offers excellent local relocation services that will allow you to move anywhere within the region. On the other hand, our packers and movers ensure that you never have to worry about packing fragile items. We also have excellent customer support, so know that you can always contact us for additional information about your residential move. Start preparing by requesting your free quote today.