San Francisco Apartment Association
home membership education & events legislation magazine community resources

legislative updates

The SFAA is dedicated to keeping our members informed about new and proposed laws in San Francisco while fighting to protect the rights of rental property owners. Because San Francisco land use policy changes so often, it is nearly impossible for property owners to keep abreast of the new laws.

SFAA tracks new legislative activity and translates it into understandable and concise language.

Here are issues we're currently tracking:

  • Supervisor Chiu has introduced legislation to allow building owners to legalize their in-law apartments. Building owners should be aware that if they choose to do so, they will place their single family home under rent control. The legislation passed through the Land Use Committee without recommendation 3/24/14 and will be heard by the full Board of Supervisors 4/1/14. Learn more.

  • Supervisor Campos has introduced legislation to dramatically increase and restructure the amount of relocation money owed to a tenant who is Ellis Acted from their building. The legislation passed through the Land Use Committee with positive recommendation on 3/24/14. It will be heard at the full Board of Supervisors 4/1/14. Learn more.

  • Supervisor Weiner and Cohen’s legislation to allow and facilitate the process for building owners to construct an additional residential unit in their existing buildings if the additional unit would not expand the building’s envelope passed through the Land Use Committee with positive recommendation 3/31/14. It will be heard by the full Board of Supervisors on 4/7/14. Learn more.

  • Tenant Right of First Refusal legislation

    Board President David Chiu Calls for Tenant Right of First Refusal Legislation. Learn more.

  • Legislation to increase relocation payments

    Supervisor Campos has introduced legislation to increase relocation payments to the delta in current market rent with the tenant's rental rate. Learn more.

  • Unit construction in the Castro

    Supervisor Weiner is introducing Legislation to allow for additional unit construction in buildings in the Castro. Learn more. Download the Planning Commission report.

  • State moves to overturn Ellis Act

    CAA and SFAA launch website to protect building owners: visit

  • Soft Story Seismic Retrofit Legislation Signed Into Law April 16th 2013

    This legislation will:

    Require the retrofitting of buildings that are

    • Wood frame
    • Built before 1978
    • 3+ stories (including the garage) or 2+ stories above a grade
    • 5+ units
    • Have a soft first story (usually parking spaces or commercial space on the ground floor)

    The City will send a letter to owners of buildings that fit this general description from September 2013 to January 2014.

    Owners will have one year to get their building evaluated by a licensed contractor, engineer, or architect to see if they are required to retrofit their building or if they are exempt from the legislation. Whether or not you have to complete the seismic retrofit work will be dictated by the sign-off of your licensed contractor or engineer.

    There are different timelines to get the permits to do the work and to get the work completed depending on building type. Owners will have no less than 4 years to complete the seismic retrofit work. The timelines to complete the work range from 4-7 years depending on building size and type. Timelines are below.

    Tier I Buildings have 2 years to submit permits and 4 years to complete the work

    • Tier I buildings contain a Group A, E, R-2.1, R-3.1 or R-4 occupancy on any story (senior housing, daycare facilities, etc.)

    Tier II Buildings have 3 years to submit permits and 5 years to complete the work

    • Tier II Buildings are buildings containing 15 or more dwelling units, except for buildings covered in Tier I or Tier IV

    Tier III Buildings have 4 years to submit permits and 6 years to complete the work

    • Tier III Buildings are buildings that do not fall within the definition of another tier.

    Tier IV Buildings have 5 years to submit permits and 7 years to complete the work

    • Tier IV Buildings are buildings that contain a Group B or M occupancy on the first story (food, office space, and retail) and buildings that are in mapped liquefaction or landslide zones, except for buildings covered in Tier I.

    **Construction work that is mandated by the City is 100% passthrough-able. The passthrough is amortized over 20 years.

  • Tobacco Smoke Disclosure Policy
    In early February 2013 Mayor Lee signed into law a Tobacco Smoke Disclosure Policy for San Francisco Rental Housing Providers. The policy requires that rental property owners with less than one hundred percent (100%) smoke free rental properties must:

    • Include in vacancy listings the unit designation as smoke free or smoking optional.
    • Designate all units as either smoke free or smoking optional based on their current lease agreements.

      • Owners with 50 residential units or less will until January 1, 2014 to develop a completed list of their apartments’ designations.
      • Owners of 51 or more residential units will have until January 1, 2015 to develop a completed list of their apartments’ designations.
    • Disclose in writing to all applicants who will be offered the apartment areas within the building, including individual apartments, where smoking is optional, prior to entering into a new lease.
    • Maintain and update a master list that lists the location of all smoking optional units in a building (based on their lease agreements,) and is available to all tenants upon request.
    Read the legislation here.

  • SFAA Board recommends approaches for apartment-sharing
    With online bookings at apartment-sharing and travel websites more than quintupling between June 2011 and June 2012, SFAA’s Board of Directors met last week to discuss an industry approach to respond to and deal with tenants who use travel websites to re-rent their apartments out as nightly or short-term hotel rooms.

    Current San Francisco law prohibits short term rentals of less than 32 days, and no-subletting clauses in apartment leases prohibit residents from re-renting to others, nightly or otherwise. However, many tenants might not know that by using apartment-sharing websites to generate additional income, they could be violating their lease and several local laws, jeopardizing their housing in the process.

    As of last week there were over 2,500 online listings to rent out entire San Francisco apartments on a nightly basis, and SFAA has received an influx of complaints from membership over the past six months. In addition to putting residents at risk for eviction, the rise of apartment-sharing websites puts building security and the health and safety of other residents at risk, disrupts a sense of building and neighborhood community, and limits the availability of our already-limited housing stock.

    SFAA's Board of Directors has come up with Three Recommended Approaches to a resident subletting part or their entire apartment through travel and apartment-sharing websites:

    3 Day Notice to Perform Lease Covenant or Quit (Subletting in Violation of the Lease)

      There must be a restriction on subletting clause in the lease agreement to serve this notice.

    The 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenant gives the resident an opportunity to cure the lease violation, but if 3 days expire before the tenant cancels bookings and reservations and the unauthorized guest remains in the unit, the owner can proceed with eviction.
    3 Day Notice to Quit (Illegal Use)

      Based on Illegal Use of a residential unit, owners should contact an attorney before issuing a 3 Day Notice to Quit to their residents.

    3 Day Notice to Quit for Illegal Use of a residential unit does not provide an opportunity for the resident to rectify the violation of law.
    Costa Hawkins Rent Increase (Tenant no longer permanently resides in the unit)

      The Costa Hawkins Notice of Rent Increase is valid until contested, and the burden to challenge the notice is on the resident.

    Rent increases of more than 10% must be given with a 60 Day Notice, which allows time for the resident to challenge the rental increase. Otherwise, a 30-day period is fine.
    Please contact the SFAA office with input, questions and comments about your experiences with apartment-sharing sites. The forms mentioned in this policy communication can be found at the SFAA office, and a list of attorneys is available at or in the back of your monthly magazine.

  • Revised bed bug rules & regulations
    The San Francisco Department of Public Health revised their bed bug Rules and Regulations effective July 1, 2012. Read them here. Supervisor Kim recently passed legislation regarding Bed Bug abatement. Read the Legislative Digest. Read the legislation as passed by the Board of Supervisors.

  • Are your tenants having trouble paying rent? 
    There are rental assistance programs available through the Human Services Agency and local non-profits that could help your tenants make their rent on time and could help you avoid an unlawful detainer proceeding. To learn more, download the HSA Rental Assistance and Rent Subsidy Programs summary and the Direct Rental Assistance Program guidelines.

  • Redesign of the business tax system

    At the request of the Mayor and Board of Supervisors President, the Controller’s Office has been working with the Treasurer’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, and local businesses on a redesign of the City’s business tax system. Please review the most recent proposal and how it would affect your properties or business (Gross Receipts Fees and Gross Receipts Rates). (updated 7/24/12)