San Francisco Just Cause for Eviction

In San Francisco, the Residential Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Ordinance (“the Rent Ordinance”) provides significant protections to tenants whose rental property is covered by the Ordinance, including regulating the amount of rent a landlord may charge a tenant and controlling when and how landlords are able to evict a tenant.

The following information focuses on the eviction protections afforded to tenants by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.

How do I know if my apartment is covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance?

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance covers the majority of rental property in San Francisco with two or more units that have an initial Certificate of Occupancy that was issued before 1979.

While certain properties in San Francisco may be exempt from the rent control portion of the Ordinance (see FAQ re San Francisco Rent Control), they may still have eviction protections. For example, although tenants who live in single-family homes or condominiums with an initial certificate of occupancy prior to June 13, 1979 may not have rent control, they do have eviction protections. Eviction protections may also apply to tenants whose rents are regulated by governmental agencies (e.g., Section 8 voucher holders) even though the rent control protections do not apply to them.

How do I find out if my apartment’s initial Certificate of Occupancy was issued before 1979?

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (“DBI”) has records of the initial certificates of occupancy. You can go to the DBI office located at 1660 Mission Street in San Francisco and complete a request for a copy of the certificate of occupancy for the building. You can usually receive a copy of the records during your visit. Or, you can fill out a request online at http://sfdbi.org/.

The construction date of your apartment building (which may be a good indicator of when the initial Certificate of Occupancy was issued) can also usually be found on the San Francisco County Assessor’s website (http://sfassessor.org/). Click “Property Information” and select “Property Search Tool” in the drop-down menu. Click the Access Tool button and enter your address.

What eviction protections am I afforded if my apartment is covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance?

Generally, in San Francisco, your landlord cannot lawfully evict you unless the landlord has “just cause” reason to do so. This is true even if your lease term has expired. The “just cause” reason must be the dominant motive behind the landlord pursuing the eviction, and the eviction must be done without ulterior motive and with honest intent. The Rent Ordinance outlines 16 “just causes” that would allow the landlord to evict you.

What are the just causes for eviction in San Francisco?

1. Failing to pay rent (or habitual late payment, or frequent bounced checks);

2. Breaching your lease;

3. Causing a nuisance or substantial damage to your unit;

4. Using your unit illegally;

5. Failing to execute a lease extension that is materially the same as the previous lease;

6. Continuing to deny the landlord access to the unit as required by state law;

7. An unapproved subtenant is the only remaining tenant in the unit;

8. Owner Move-In Eviction and Relative Move-In Eviction** (The owner who seeks to recover possession of a unit for an owner or relative to move in must do so in good faith, without ulterior motive and with honest intent. The owner or relative must move into the unit within three months and occupy the unit as that person’s principal residence for at least 36 continuous months);

9. The landlord seeks to sell the unit pursuant to a condominium conversion** (seniors and permanently disabled tenants cannot be evicted on these grounds);

10. Demolition or removal of the unit from housing use, and the landlord has obtained all the necessary permits**;

11. The landlord seeks to temporarily remove the unit from housing use to complete capital improvements or rehabilitation work, and the landlord has obtained all the necessary permits;**

12. The landlord seeks to perform substantial rehabilitation of the unit, and the landlord has obtained all the necessary permits**;

13. Ellis Act Eviction** (The owner of record seeks to permanently remove the unit from the rental market)

14. The landlord seeks to temporarily recover possession to perform lead paint remediation**;

15. Demolition or removal of the unit from housing use in accordance with the terms of a development agreement entered into by the City under San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 56**; and

16. Good Samaritan Occupancy Status expiration for the tenant where the landlord has serves a notice of termination of tenancy within 60 days of expiration of the status.

**These “just causes” are frequently referred to as “No-Fault Evictions” because the grounds on which the landlord is initiating eviction proceedings are not the result of any bad conduct by the tenant. No-Fault Evictions usually have strict procedural requirements, exceptions and, in some cases, landlords must pay relocation expenses to the tenant(s).

  • Sunday, 05 April 2015