A San Francisco renters’ dictionary
If you’re an apartment renter in San Francisco, you may have already developed the lexicon needed to navigate in this complicated world of rental transactions. If you haven’t, well, listen up.
Here’s a short and sweet guide to the terms you need to know to be a savvy San Francisco renter. They’ll help you get the answers you need from your landlord or real estate professional, or just sound good at cocktail parties while talking about real estate.
Landlord’s market – That’s the term for the current state of the market in San Francisco, where double-digit rent increases over the last year are attributed to high demand, low supply, and a plentiful pool of renters able to pay the high asking prices.
Rent control – This is the legislation that guarantees San Francisco continues to have any affordable housing stock at all. If you live in a building built before June of 1979, you are covered under rent control. So are all illegal units, like in-law apartments, garage conversions or “off the book” properties that the city doesn’t know about. There are a number of other situational exceptions. To find out if you are covered, read the summary of the rent control law.
Annual rent increases – The amount your landlord (in a rent controlled unit) is allowed to raise your rent this year. The annual rent increase of 1.9 percent extends from March 1, 2012 to February 28, 2013.
Anniversary date – A rent increase cannot be applied until you have lived in your rental for one calendar year.
Banked increases – Your landlord can save the increase for application in a later calendar year, adding together multiple years of increases.
SF Rent Board – Legislative body that oversees grievances and hearings regarding rent control cases.
Drop in clinic – Where you can go to find out if you have a case against a landlord who is out of compliance with the Rent Control regulations.
Wrongful Rent Increase petition – What to file with the SF Rent Board if your rent controlled until has been increased more than 1.9 percent on your anniversary date in this calendar year (and the increase didn’t include banked increases.)