San Francisco has very stringent rules in place to protect tenants’ rights. In many instances, landlords ignore these rules in order to maximize their income and often at the expense of their tenant(s). Despite the existence of numerous avenues for landlords to become apprised of the laws they must follow, landlords simply carry on business as usual.
In order for a landlord to evict a tenant from a rental unit covered by the Rent Ordinance, a landlord must have a “just cause” reason that is the dominant motive for pursuing the eviction.
Oftentimes, landlords create false reasons to evict a tenant so that they can increase the rent. These actions are in direct violation of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.
There are very specific just cause reasons for eviction under Ordinance Section 37.9(a). Some tenancies that are exempt from the rent increase limitations of the Ordinance may still be subject to the eviction controls of the Ordinance, which means that tenants in these categories can only be evicted for a “just cause” reason. This includes tenancies that are eligible for an unlimited rent increase under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act or Rules and Regulations Section 1.21 because the unit is not the tenant’s principal place of residence. The eviction controls also apply to tenants whose rents are regulated by another government agency such as Section 8 vouchers, Section 8 certificate holders and the HOPWA program which provides Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS.
If a landlord evicts or tries to evict a tenant unlawfully, the landlord is subject to civil and/or criminal liability. The tenant may bring a civil action for an injunction, as well as actual and treble damages, and attorney fees. The landlord can also be found guilty of a misdemeanor, with a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment in the County jail for up to six months.