Topic No. 401: The Hearing Process
Once a petition is determined to be complete, it will be scheduled for an arbitration hearing or a mediation session. The Rent Board sends a copy of the petition to the other parties named in the petition. Generally, attachments and supporting documents are not sent to the parties. These documents are retained as evidence in the Rent Board file, which opposing parties may review during business hours before the hearing. The office should be contacted in advance to verify the availability of the file, since the Administrative Law Judge may be reviewing it.
For petitions that are assigned to arbitration, the Rent Board sends a Notice of Hearing to all parties and representatives at least 10 days before the hearing. Requests for postponements must be submitted in writing and will be granted only when there is good cause, such as travel plans made prior to receipt of the Notice of Hearing. Evidence of conflicting plans must be submitted with the request for postponement.
The hearing process is designed so that no one needs an attorney, although parties are entitled to have an attorney or other authorized representative assist them at the hearing. The parties or their representatives are permitted to present testimony and evidence, and to cross-examine the other parties and their witnesses. The Administrative Law Judge may also ask questions of the parties and witnesses to ensure that all pertinent facts are brought out. The record may be held open for the submission of additional evidence after the hearing.
The Administrative Law Judge is not permitted to speak to anyone privately about the case or to consider evidence outside of the official record. Nor can the judge consider evidence that is not served on the other parties. Therefore, all submissions to the Administrative Law Judge after the hearing must also be provided to the other parties and be accompanied by proof of service of the submission on the other parties. The Rent Board has a Proof of Service form that can be used by the parties. To receive a copy of the Proof of Service form, you can fax it to yourself by calling 252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard.
After the record is closed, the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written decision that will be mailed to all the parties and their representatives. If no appeal is filed, the decision becomes final. If an appeal is filed, portions of the decision may be stayed until the Rent Board Commission acts on the appeal.