In San Francisco, not all rental units are covered by rent control. State law exempts some properties, including single-family homes containing only one rental unit, from local rent control ordinances. Generally, this means that tenants who live in properties exempt from rent control can have their rents raised to whatever the landlord wants. However, many of the rental units in San Francisco that are not covered by rent control are protected by the “just cause” eviction limitations in San Francisco law. As a result, some landlords, knowing that rent control doesn’t apply, will increase their tenants’ rents by huge amounts in order to force the tenants to vacate their homes, leaving the landlords with empty units to re-rent.
To combat this nefarious practice, San Francisco passed a law in 2019 that strengthened the rights of tenants living in these non-rent controlled properties. The law makes it illegal for a landlord to raise the rent on a tenant living in a rental unit that is exempt from rent control if the increase in rent was made in bad faith and intended by the landlord to defraud, intimidate or coerce the tenant into moving out.
Some landlords and their interest groups challenged the law in court, arguing that it was an illegal attempt by San Francisco to regulate rent amounts on units that state law exempts from rent control. In January 2022, a state appellate court upheld the San Francisco law, holding that San Francisco was not controlling rental amounts but rather was controlling the grounds for eviction, which it can do.
Not happy with the result in the appellate court, the landlords and their interest groups appealed to the state supreme court. But on May 11, 2022, the California Supreme Court rejected the landlords’ appeal, making the appellate court’s decision final and cementing this additional tenant right into law.
Now, if you rent a home that is not covered by rent control in San Francisco and you receive a large rent increase, the landlord may be acting unlawfully. Contact Humphreys Joiner Law Group to talk to an attorney.