Tenant's Rights

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
Web: www.sfrb.org

Small Claims Court
Tel: (415) 551-4000
Web: www.sfsuperiorcourt.org

Department of Building Inspection, Housing Inspection Division
Tel: (415) 558-6220
Web: www.sfdbi.org

Department of Public Health
Tel: (415) 554-2500
Web: www.sfdph.org

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For further information and assistance regarding tenancy issues, please refer to the following resources:

 

San Francisco Bar Association

 

iris@sfbar.org

 

Tel: (415)-989-1616

 

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

Web: www.dca.ca.gov

 

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

Web: www.communityboards.org

 

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

Web: www.hrcsf.org

 

San Francisco Rent Stabilization Control Board

Also known as SF Rent Board.

25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

Tel: (415) 252-4600

Web: www.sfrb.org

 

San Francisco Tenants Union

Advocacy for tenants' rights and affordable housing.

558 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Tel: (415) 282-6622

Web: www.sftu.org

 

St. Peter's Housing Committee

Tenancy advocacy and education.

474 Valencia St, Suite 156, San Francisco, CA 

Tel: (415) 487-9203

Web: sfhomeless.wikia.com/wiki/St._Peter's_Housing_Committee_(SPHC)_(Comite_de_Vivienda_San_Pedro)

 

Tenants' Rights: California Tenants' Handbook

by Moskovitz and Warner (Nolo Press)

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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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