The Board Report

Agree to Agree

written by Eric R. Andresen

Protect yourself and your investment by using the updated 2020 SFAA lease agreement for new tenancies.

The new 2020 Residential Tenancy Agreement was released in March with several changes and updates, including new language to comply with California’s major rent control legislation (AB 1482, “Tenant Protection Act”) that passed in October of 2019.

At the top of page 1, there are now several more lines to identify all tenants in the agreement. Many members had asked for additional lines, as well as to uniformly standardize the number of signature lines throughout the document. As such, there are now six lines for signatures and more space on page 1. There is also added space to list appliances or furniture, and longer lines to accommodate terms and amounts, such as rent and deposits.

The next big update is in the “Pets” paragraph (19). There have been several cases where landlords have been challenged to prove that a specific tenant’s animal has been making messes in or around the property. The solution was to use a DNA test in a couple of cases, so the lease drafting committee added some language placing the responsibility of providing such DNA on the tenant who has the animal. This is an interesting issue that has received some national attention given the fact that more people live with animals now than ever before.

The committee also added strict language requiring the animal-owner tenant to provide proof of liability insurance to cover any aggressive or damaging actions of the animal. Other insurance covenants used in the past versions of the agreement have implied this requirement, but now it is specifically spelled out as follows:

“Prior to occupancy by the Tenant and/or of the animal, any animals
allowed at the Premises or in the
Building or on the Property pursuant to this provision or as required by
law shall obligate Tenant to provide written documentation to Owner confirming liability insurance policy coverage to provide for the inclusion of the animal in reference to the insurance policy required pursuant to Section 42 of this Agreement.”

The agreement now contains specific language requiring tenants who want assistive animals to comply with related laws and to complete the “Assistive Animal Packet” provided by the lessor as a necessary term before permission is granted for the animal.

Storage and packages have also become a greater issue for all operators. This topic is relegated to not only package deliveries, but also extends to where those packages end up being stored. The committee has updated language about how packages have to be received INSIDE a tenant’s unit, and mandates that packages cannot be left out in the common areas or stored in parking areas. 

Operators have seen a dramatic increase in attempts to perform commercial commerce from residential units, which is arguably illegal and already banned in the agreement. Regardless, the committee added language banning receipt of commercial packages or packages related to commercial activity.

The parking clause has been updated to clarify that tenants and their guests cannot park illegally or block access when parking their vehicles. This includes parking across curb cuts, driveways, or other areas of the property. The agreement clearly states that vehicles can and will be towed.

The committee asked the San Francisco Fire Department to provide feedback on the agreement this year, and they suggested several edits that were incorporated. One edit is in relation to satellite dishes because firefighters have encountered them on fire escapes and roofs, where they should not be. The committee added language to the “Satellite Dish” paragraph, which reads:

“Satellite dishes shall not be attached to or obstruct the immediate use of fire escapes, nor shall the wires from any such satellite dish to the tenant’s unit be attached to or across the fire escape, nor shall they be allowed to create a tripping hazard on the roof, stairs, fire escapes, etc.”

With use of email becoming more and more prevalent, many owners have asked if notice to enter can be made via email. The committee has also been asked to make it clear that once permission to enter has been granted, it cannot be rescinded just because the tenant will not be present. Here is the new language in the “Notice” paragraph:

“Tenant agrees and understands that Owner can give 24-hour notice to enter via email. Tenant agrees to inform Owner in writing if Tenant changes their email address. Tenant agrees and understands that if the Owner gives 24 hours written notice under California Civil Code, Tenant cannot require that Tenant be present.”

In addition to the new language, the agreement contains space for the tenants’ emails addresses in the signature section.

The committee also asked Recology—San Francisco’s scavenger and recycling service—to review the agreement, and they have asked that language be included about the disposal of large or bulky items as well as the need to comply with recycling programs. As such, the agreement includes the below line about Recology’s hauling service:

“No cost removal of bulky items such as furniture, appliances or electronics is available to residents. Contact Recology at or call (415) 330-1300 for program information, limitations or to make a Bulky Item Recycling appointment.”

With increased seismic work and the encouraged development of additional dwelling units (ADUs), many owners have needed to relocate or change resident services or to relocate storage or parking options for tenants. This has resulted in tenant petitions at the Rent Board and in court, so a new paragraph has been added to the “House Rules” section to deal with these scenarios.

“53.10 Relocation/ Replacement of Services: With respect to any housing service which Owner may provide to Tenant outside of the Premises in which Tenant resides, including, but not limited to, (1) garage facilities, (2) parking facilities, (3) driveways, (4) storage spaces, (5) laundry rooms, (6) decks, (7) patios, or (8) gardens on the same lot, or (9) kitchen facilities or lobbies in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels, and regardless whether such housing service is provided at the inception of the tenancy or at any point in time thereafter, Owner reserves and retains the right to relocate such service to any other location on the lot which contains the Premises, in Owner's sole and absolute discretion. In the event of such relocation, Tenant shall be given at least 3 days’ notice of any such relocation, and, to the extent that any personal property (e.g., vehicle or stored items) must be moved, Tenant shall move all such personal property to the newly-designated location within 7 days of the service of such notice of relocation by the Owner. Any failure by Tenant to timely move all such personal property shall be a material breach of this Agreement, warranting termination of the tenancy. Owner shall provide a comparable housing service. Tenant has no right to have any such housing service located in any particular part of the Building. Tenant has no right to have any such housing service located in any particular part of the building which contains the Premises.”

The State Legislature has updated the compliance requirements mandated by Proposition 65—the law that requires operators to provide warnings about potential hazardous substances in the building. The new regulations allow lessors to provide a warning in the lease in the form of an addenda. So the Proposition 65 Addendum is now included as an addenda to the document.

Perhaps the biggest change to the lease agreement, and the one that caused the late release of the 2020 agreement this year, is language related to California’s new statewide rent protection laws. Even though most San Francisco properties were already covered under local rent control measures, a disclosure is still required and has been added at the end of the agreement. It is identified as an “Addendum” because that is what the new law requires. There is also the option to identify the exemption of single family homes. The new addendum is as follows:

“Addendum—AB 1482 Notice: If the premises is subject to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the following information is being disclosed to you: California law limits the amount your rent can be increased. See Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code for more information. California law also provides that after all of the tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 12 months or more or at least one of the tenants has continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 24 months or more, a landlord must provide a statement of cause in any notice to terminate a tenancy. See Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code for more information. Nothing in this Addendum should be construed as a representation that the premises being rented is in fact subject to either Civil Code Sections 1947.12 or 1946.2.

Notice of Exemption from AB 1482 for Single Family Homes and Condos: YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED IN ACCORDANCE WITH CIVIL CODE 1946.2 that this property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by §1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just case requirements of §1946.2 of the California Civil Code.  This property meets the requirements  of §1947.12 (d)(5) and  §1946.2 (e)(8) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by §856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.”

The new SFAA lease agreement continues the tradition of providing up-to-date protections and important information that all San Francisco residential property owners should feel comfortable with using. That’s not to say that challenges won’t ever occur—we’ve certainly learned that almost anything can and will be challenged or held against us—but rental property owners who use the SFAA agreement are in an optimum position as they begin a new tenancy.

As always, we encourage SFAA members to provide feedback and suggested edits. Feel free to email so that your comments can be reviewed by the committee before the next agreement is produced.

Eric Andresen owns West Coast Property Management Company in San Francisco, has been a long-time member of the SFAA Board, has served as SFAA’s President and also Chairs the SFAA committee that reviews the Tenancy Agreement every year.