Topic No. 012: Overview of Rent Board Services-What We Do and Don't Do

The San Francisco Rent Ordinance regulates rents and evictions for certain residential rental units in San Francisco. There is no commercial rent control in San Francisco.

The Rent Board’s primary function is to conduct hearings and mediations of tenant and landlord petitions regarding the adjustment of rents under the City’s rent control laws. The Rent Board also investigates Reports of Alleged Wrongful Eviction, although the Rent Board’s authority in such matters is limited since only the Court can decide whether an eviction is legal.

The Rent Board cannot arbitrate matters that are not part of the Rent Ordinance. For example, we do not have jurisdiction to adjudicate alleged breaches of a rental agreement, which must be decided in court. The Rent Board also cannot hear cases concerning issues of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, as such matters are outside of our jurisdiction. Please contact the San Francisco Human Rights Commission regarding these issues.

The Rent Board provides counseling information on subjects that are covered by the Rent Ordinance ONLY. Please understand that our staff CANNOT give legal advice and they are instructed to let you know when your question is one that should properly be answered by a lawyer.

While we cannot refer you to individual attorneys, staff will be glad to direct you to the appropriate resources for advice and assistance. A list of these resources is available through the Referral Listing on our website. Please note that you do not need a lawyer to file a petition at the Rent Board.

Due to high demand and a limited number of staff, there can sometimes be delays in speaking with a counselor. It is helpful if you have your questions written down before you speak with a counselor. You can speak with a counselor by calling during weekday counseling hours. Calls are generally limited to 5 minutes. A counselor is also available at the Rent Board’s office. Counseling visits at the office are generally limited to 10 minutes.

Self-service computer kiosks are also available in our office where you can access capital improvement tools, information about specific petitions and appeals, and view past decisions and buyout agreements.


November 2018