Topic No. 013: The Rent Board Fee

Chapter 37A of the San Francisco Administrative Code allows the City to collect a per-unit fee for each residential dwelling unit that is subject to the Rent Ordinance. This fee funds the cost of operating the Rent Board.

In prior years, the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector billed the Rent Board fee on the property tax statement. Beginning in tax year 2021-2022, the Rent Board is now required to collect the fee directly from the property owner, and the fee will no longer appear on the property tax statement. There has been no change to the structure of the fee.

For the 2021-2022 tax year, the rental unit fee is $59.00 per apartment unit and $29.50 per residential hotel room. The landlord may collect 50% of the fee from tenants, which is $29.50 per apartment unit and $14.75 per residential hotel room. For the 2020-2021 tax year, the rental unit fee is $50.00 per apartment unit and $25.00 per residential hotel room. The landlord may collect 50% of the fee from tenants, which is $25.00 per apartment unit and $12.50 per residential hotel room.

The Rent Board fee must be paid no later than March 1 of each year. The Rent Board will add a 5% penalty to the amount of the fee if the fee has not been paid by March 1, an additional 5% if the fee has not been paid by April 1, and an additional 5% if the fee has not been paid by May 1. If the fee remains outstanding as of June 1, the Rent Board will refer the matter to the Bureau of Delinquent Revenue.

Certain dwelling units are exempt from payment of the Rent Board fee, including owner-occupied units where no tenants also reside with the owner in the unit. Units where the rent is controlled or regulated by a government agency, including Section 8 certificate and Housing Choice Voucher programs administered by the San Francisco Housing Authority, are also exempt from payment of the fee. Units rented under the HOPWA program (Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids) administered by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development are exempt from payment of the fee as well. Refer to Section 37A.1 of the Administrative Code for a complete list of exemptions.

An owner who has paid the Rent Board fee in full may collect 50% of the fee (excluding any penalties that have been added to the fee) from the tenant(s) in occupancy of each residential unit on November 1st of each tax year. For the Rent Board fee billed in tax year 2021-2022, the owner may only collect the fee from the tenant if they are residing in the unit as of November 1, 2021.

Section 37A.6 of the Administrative Code allows the landlord to recover 50% of the Rent Board fee from the tenant by deducting it from the security deposit interest payment due to the tenant each year. If there is no security deposit held by the landlord, then the landlord may bill the tenant directly. Landlords who pay the security deposit interest annually may bill for the Rent Board fee separately rather than deducting it from the interest payment owed.

The billing statement must specifically state the Rent Board fee amount owed by the tenant for each year and the amount, if any, of security deposit interest due the tenant for each year owing. The bill should also state that the purpose of the fee is to fund the Rent Board, and that the fee is due and payable within 30 days of the date of the bill.

Landlords may “bank” the Rent Board fee since November 1999 and collect it in a later year. This means that a landlord does not have to collect the fee in the year that it was due, but is entitled to collect the Rent Board fee in later years if they so desire. Banking only applies to fees assessed from November 1999 on.

Please note that a tenant’s failure to pay the Rent Board fee is not a just cause for eviction. The landlord must go to Small Claims Court in order to collect the fee.

August 2021