The California Civil Code, as well as the San Francisco Health Code and Housing Code define landlords’ obligations to make and keep rental homes in habitable condition. Inspectors of the Department of Public Health and Department of Building Inspection are responsible for enforcing the respective Health and Housing Codes. All residential landlords, whether they are private property owners or owners of public housing, are subject to the following codes.

Property owners are required to provide:

  • Building free of lead hazard and mold.

  • Safe source of heating systems capable of maintaining temperature of at least 68 F at a point midway between the heat source and farthest wall and at 3 feet above the floor of living, sleeping, cooking and eating areas each day between 5 AM and 11 AM and 3 PM to 10 PM.

  • Effective weatherproofing of windows, exterior walls, and roofs.

  • Housing free of garbage, waste, rats, vermin, and bedbugs.

  • Plumbing and gas facilities in good order.

  • Hot and cold running water.

  • Adequate electrical plugs and phone jacks.

  • Well-maintained stairs, floors, and common areas.

Additionally, your landlord cannot evict you without “Just Cause.” If your landlord uses unlawful ways to evict you or retaliates against you because you or your relative assert your rights for a safe and habitable home, your landlord may be subject to liability for any actual damages caused to you, including mental or emotional distress. Your landlord cannot force you to vacate the unit without proper notice and, in some cases, appropriate relocation fees. Retaliation can include unlawful rent increases, attempts to unlawfully evict tenants, and reductions in services. If your landlord seeks to recover or actually recovers possession of a rental unit, or attempts to or actually does wrongfully evict you, you may bring a civil action suit seeking for an injunction, damages, and attorney fees. You may bring suit while still in the unit or after your landlord has recovered possession.


  • Your landlord cannot retaliate against you for requesting repairs. (Civil Code 1942.5)

  • A landlord is obligated to provide habitable dwellings. (Civil Code 1941)

  • Dwellings that have water intrusion, cockroaches, mice, bedbugs or other vermin do not generally meet the definition of habitability. (Civil Code 1941.1)

  • You cannot be harassed for a discriminatory reason or because you have sought repairs. (San Francisco Rent Ordinance SFRO 37.10 (Proposition M))

If you are experiencing any of the following:

mice, rats, roaches or other bed bugs infestations no heat

faulty locks on doors clogged plumbing

issues with electrical outlets broken windows

mold and mildew unsanitary bathrooms  trash accumulation

Please call the following numbers to report the problems:

(415) 558-6220
SF Department of Building Inspection general complaint line

(415) 252-3800
SF Department of Public Health

(415) 558-6570
SF Department of Building Inspection electrical & plumbing hazards only

(415) 558-3300
San Francisco Fire Department fire safety concerns hotline

Please note that you can report problems anonymously if you do not feel comfortable giving out identifying information.

Please contact the Hooshmand Law Group at 415-318-5709 for more information about tenants’ rights or to discuss difficulties you have experienced during your tenancy.

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