Whether or not your landlord can raise your rent and by how much depends on your rental unit and whether it is covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. If you received notice of a massive rent hike on your unit, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney for answers to your questions. You can contact the San Francisco Rent Board, San Francisco Tenants Union, or an experienced San Francisco tenant rights attorney at Brod Law Firm.
Whether Your Unit is Covered under the SFRO
Your rental unit is covered by the SFRO if it was built before 1979 and has at least two residential units. Buildings that were certified for occupancy after June 13, 1979 are exempt from the Rent Ordinance. This means if you live in an older building, it is probably rent controlled. If you live in a new building, it is likely not rent controlled.
My Building is Rent Controlled
If your building is covered by the SFRO, then the landlord must follow the law in increasing rent. Each year the city allows a landlord to increase rent by a certain amount. The allowable amount between March 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017 is 1.6%, while the allowable increase between March 1, 2017 and February 28, 2018 is 2.2%.
Your landlord must stay within these limits if he or she raises the rent each year. However, the SFRO also allows what are known as bank increases. Landlords are not required to raise rent each year. They can save their increases up over a number of years. For example, if the landlord has not increased rent in five years, he or she is allowed to use all five years’ of allowable increases at once.
There are no limits on how many years the landlord can add up since 1982, when this rule went into effect. A landlord cannot impose previous year increases on new tenants. If you have only lived in your unit for two years, you are only susceptible to two years’ worth of rental increases.
There are a number of rules regarding banked increases. If your landlord is raising your rent considerably more than what is allowed for the current year, then you should check that it is an allowable amount. Do not take your landlord’s word for it.
Did I Receive Proper Notice?
For units covered by the SFRO, landlords must give you at least 30-day notice in writing for an annual rent increase. This means you should receive a letter from your landlord more than a month before the new rental amount goes into effect. However, if the rental increase is more than 10% of your rent, the landlord must give you at least 60-day notice.
The notice should include the dollar amount and percentage increase that will go into effect, the new total amount of rent due, and the date the new rent goes into effect.
Contact a San Francisco Tenant Rights Attorney
If your landlord is trying to subject you to a ridiculous rent hike, do some research on whether the increase is lawful or not. If the landlord is raising your rent too much, at the wrong time, or without the proper notice, then you have the right to stay at your current rental rate until you are provided proper notice of a lawful increase. If you believe your rights have been violated, contact an experienced lawyer at Brod Law Firm to learn about your options.
Call us today at (800) 427-7020.
(image courtesy of Mike Wilson)