Tenants are afforded certain rights. Some of the things a landlord cannot do include:
- Evict you without first going to court
- Turn off your utilities or services
- Lock you out or change the locks on your unit
- Harass you
- Enter your unit without your permission
If your unit falls under the protection of rent control, you may call the SF Rent Board to file a petition. Here are similar organizations that can provide you with further information and assistance:
San Francisco Rent Board
Tel: (415) 252-4600
Small Claims Court
Tel: (415) 551-4000
Department of Building Inspection, Housing Inspection Division
Tel: (415) 558-6220
Department of Public Health
Tel: (415) 554-2500
For further information and assistance regarding tenancy issues, please refer to the following resources:
San Francisco Bar Association
California Department of Consumer Affairs
Publication: California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants' and Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities
1625 North Market Blvd, Suite N 112, Sacramento, CA 95834
Tel: (415) 800 952-5210
Community Boards Program of San Francisco
A non-profit mediation service that assists in resolving community conflict.
3130 24th Street, San Francisco, CA
Tel: (415) 920-3820
The Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco
Free tenants' rights counseling and education.
417 S. Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 703-8644
San Francisco Rent Stabilization Control Board
Also known as SF Rent Board.
25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel: (415) 252-4600
San Francisco Tenants Union
Advocacy for tenants' rights and affordable housing.
558 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Tel: (415) 282-6622
St. Peter's Housing Committee
Tenancy advocacy and education.
474 Valencia St, Suite 156, San Francisco, CA
Tel: (415) 487-9203
Tenants' Rights: California Tenants' Handbook
by Moskovitz and Warner (Nolo Press)
As a subtenant who may be renting for a short period of time, it is important to know your rights. First, you must make sure the original landlord is allowing the tenant to sublease to you. If a tenant rents to you when a lease or rental agreement prohibits it, the landlord can evict both the tenant and you, the subtenant, even if you did not know that subtenancy was prohibited. Ask to see a copy of the original lease to make sure you are legally able to sublease. In most situations, you will not sign a lease with the original landlord, instead you will deal directly with the original tenant. However, the original landlord may require you, the subtenant, to sign a separate rental agreement giving you all the rights and responsibilities of a tenant.
Master Tenants and Subtenants
A tenant may choose to rent out part of a unit to another tenant if the lease allows. This is called an apartment share. The master tenant is the person who originally moved into the unit, signed an agreement with the landlord, and is now renting part of the unit to another tenant, called a subtenant. The subtenant is the person who pays rent to the master tenant and has no relationship with the landlord. Co-tenants, or simply roommates, are equal tenants who are both on a rental agreement with the landlord.
Subtenants Rights with a Landlord
If a landlord gains 'actual knowledge' (e.g. accepting a rent check, getting a letter, doing a credit check, etc.) of a subtenant and does nothing about it for 60 days, the subtenant is treated as a co-tenant for the purposes of eviction and rent increases, and has the same rights as a normal tenant. If the landlord gives notice to the subtenant within 60 days or 'actual knowledge' that s/he recognizes the subtenant merely as an occupant and not a tenant, the subtenant remains a subtenant for the purposes of eviction and rent control. This means that when a master tenant is evicted or moved out, the landlord can increase the price of the unit to a fair market value because rent control rules do not apply. The subtenant will have to pay this higher price if s/he wants to remain in the unit.
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