San Francisco, California is the hub of the Bay Area, one of the state’s major economic and cultural centers in the northern part of the state. With a population of just 826,000 people spread over 47 square miles, San Francisco is not a large city, but it packs a mighty punch in terms of economic and cultural contributions.
San Francisco attracts many high-wage jobs — its median household income is nearly $73,000, compared to a national average of $62,000 — and it accordingly offers high-rent living.
With a home ownership rate of just 37 percent, compared to the national average of 57 percent, the majority of San Francisco’s residents rent property, as opposed to own. About 67 percent of the city’s housing units are located in multi-unit structures, such as apartment buildings.
Bay Area rents are notoriously high, and they keep getting higher, reports a 2013 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Average rent on a San Francisco apartment can cost $2,790, nearly 5 percent higher than in 2012, the paper reported.
Once residents find an apartment, the next step is understanding San Francisco tenant rights.
Some renters rights, such as rents, are governed by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and overseen by the county Rent Board, which was established in 1979 to help residents deal with a housing crisis. The board’s mission is to protect residents from exorbitant increases in rent. There is a list of exceptions that excludes particular properties.
Tenant law in California describes the rules and regulations to govern fair business relationships between renters and landlords. Tenant law also describes the process for resolving disputes.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs recommends talking with your landlord to resolve issues before proceeding to more formal methods of mediation. If talking doesn’t work, the department recommends writing a letter or an email that describes the problem and requests a remedy. Putting tenant issues in writing helps you document the situation and your attempts to fix it, which can help if court action becomes necessary.
San Francisco tenant rights include the right to live in a safe home, free from falling ceilings and pest infestation, and the right to receive prompt repairs when things break. Many people don’t know their rights, and so when something bad happens, they’re not sure how to handle it or determine who is responsible for fixing the problem.
Many third parties are available to help with your tenant law issue in California, such as San Francisco’s Rent Board, to respond to unfair evictions, illegal rent increases and health issues, such as mold.
Many renters also encounter problems with recouping their security deposit after moving from an apartment. San Francisco tenant rights hold that all deposits beyond the first month’s rent are refundable. A clause in a lease that characterizes a deposit such as a security deposit or pet deposit as non-refundable is not enforceable under San Francisco law.
Knowing your renters rights is the first step to ensuring that you enjoy living in your apartment, condo or home, and avoid getting taken advantage of by unscrupulous or unaware landlords.