Topic No. 017: Overview of Covered and Exempt Units
Recent amendments to the Rent Ordinance may have changed some of the information provided here. This information will be updated soon. You may contact the Rent Board at 415.252.4602 or visit the office at 25 Van Ness Avenue, Room 320 in San Francisco if you have questions about this topic.
Most residential rental units in buildings that were constructed before June 13, 1979 are covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Commercial units and residential units in buildings for which a certificate of occupancy was first issued after June 13, 1979 are exempt from the Rent Ordinance.
The following types of dwelling units are also exempt from the Rent Ordinance, regardless of when the building was constructed:
- Units in hotels, motels, inns, tourist houses, rooming and boarding houses, where the unit has not been occupied by the same tenant for 32 or more continuous days, provided that the landlord has not recovered possession of the unit from the tenant in order to avoid the application of the Rent Ordinance;
- Dwelling units in non-profit cooperatives owned, occupied and controlled by a majority of the residents;
- Dwelling units solely owned by a nonprofit public benefit corporation governed by a board of directors, the majority of whom are residents of the dwelling units, and where the corporate bylaws require that rent increases be approved by a majority of the residents;
- Housing accommodations in any hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, asylum, residential care or licensed adult day health care facility for the elderly;
- Housing accommodations in dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education, a high school, or an elementary school;
- Certain dwelling units whose rents are controlled or regulated by another government unit, agency or authority;
- Dwelling units in a building that is at least 50 years old and which has undergone substantial rehabilitation after June 13, 1979, provided that the landlord has filed a petition for exemption on this basis and the Rent Board has determined after a hearing that the building was substantially rehabilitated;
- Dwelling units that have been permanently removed from rental housing use pursuant to the Ellis Act and Ordinance Section 37.3(d);
- Live/work units in a building where there has been a lawful conversion to live/work use and a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued after June 13, 1979, and where there has been no residential tenancy in the building of any kind between June 13, 1979 and the date of issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy;
- Commercial space where there is incidental and infrequent residential use; and,
- A residential unit where there is no longer residential use and there is a commercial or other non-residential use.
Certain dwelling units whose rents are controlled or regulated by another government unit, agency or authority may be exempt from the rent increase limitations of the Ordinance, but are still subject to the just cause eviction provisions. In addition, pursuant to a state law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, some single-family homes and condominiums may be exempt from the rent increase limitations of the Ordinance but not the just cause eviction provisions.
If there is a question about whether a unit is covered by or exempt from the Rent Ordinance, a landlord or a tenant may file a petition at the Rent Board for a determination of jurisdiction. Petition forms can be found in the Forms Center on the Rent Board’s website and are also available at our office.