Eviction

Eviction is a legal process. San Francisco's eviction requirements apply to most residential properties, including apartments, houses, condominiums, single family dwellings, and even buildings built after 1979.

“Notice of eviction” by Allan Vega, CC BY

Overview

Eviction is a legal process.

 

A landlord cannot legally lock out a tenant, throw away a tenant's possessions, shut off utilities, or engage in harassing behavior to remove a tenant. They must follow the legal process. 

 

Typically it requires a written notice, a lawsuit known as an unlawful detainer action, a judgment by the court, and a removal by the Sheriff.

 

It is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney.

Just Cause

Most residential tenants in San Francisco have eviction protections. That means a landlord must have "just cause" to evict.

 

These "just causes" can include scenarios where a tenant does not pay rent, is a nuisance, or breaches the lease. This is an "at fault" eviction.

 

This can also include "no fault" evictions where a landlord wishes to move into a unit or wishes to get out of the rental business under the state Ellis Act.

 

Learn about the 16 just cause reasons to evict a tenant.

Get help

Eviction is a complicated process. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant it is recommended that you seek legal help.

 

If you have general questions you can contact the Rent Board at 415-252-4600.

 

If you need legal assistance you may be able to find help from our Rent Board Referral Listing.

 

If you live in San Francisco and need help paying rent you may be able to get help from a rental assistance program.

 

For all other kinds of help you may want to try the SF Service Guide.

Eviction notices

An eviction notice is a legal document that terminates a tenancy and tells the tenant to vacate the unit within a specific time frame, usually within 3, 10, 30, 60, or 120 days. 

 

All eviction notices must be in writing and contain certain information.

 

Some eviction types require that a 10 day warning be given to the tenant first to provide an opportunity to correct the claimed violation. 

 

The Unlawful Detainer

The Unlawful Detainer can only be filed in Superior Court after the eviction notice has expired.

 

If a tenant receives the Unlawful Detainer they have 5 business days to respond or they risk a default judgment. A default judgment means a tenant may have automatically lost their case.

 

If you are a tenant, and you receive an Unlawful Detainer Summons and Complaint, you should contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative at 415-659-9184 for free legal help. 

 

Learn more about Unlawful Detainer actions in court.

 

Report a wrongful eviction

If you think you are being evicted illegally, you can report the eviction to the Rent Board.

The Eviction Process

A step by step guide to the Eviction Process.

"At fault" evictions

Nonpayment of rent

Nonpayment of rent

A tenant who does not pay rent or who habitually misses rent payment may be subject to an eviction.

If you live in San Francisco and need help paying rent you may be able to get help from a rental assistance program.

Nuisance

Nuisance

A tenant may be evicted for nuisance or substantial interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants in the building.

The nature of the nuisance or substantial interference must be severe, continuing or reoccurring in nature.

The Rent Board cannot provide legal advice and cannot define what does or does not constitute nuisance.

Breach of lease

Breach of lease

The Rent Ordinance allows the landlord to evict a tenant for breach of a rental agreement or lease after the landlord gives the tenant an opportunity to cure the breach and the tenant fails to do so.

Breach of no subletting clause/ occupancy limits

Breach of no subletting clause/ occupancy limits

The Rent Ordinance generally allows tenants to replace departing roommates and/or to increase the number of occupants living in the unit, including family members, even when prohibited by a written lease.

Learn more about evictions based on breach of subletting clause/ occupancy limits.

An "at fault" eviction is an eviction where the tenant is alleged to be at fault.

This may include nonpayment of rent, nuisance, breach of lease, etc. 

These types of evictions normally require at least a 3 day notice.

"No fault" evictions

Owner or relative move-in

Owner or relative move-in

A landlord may recover possession of a rental unit for the occupancy of the owner or a relative of the owner for use as their principal residence for a period of at least 36 continuous months.

This is a very complex process and it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice before attempting this type of eviction or defending against this type of eviction.

Learn more about evictions based on owner or relative move-in.

Learn more about the notice requirements for an owner or relative move-in.

Ellis Act eviction

Ellis Act eviction

The Ellis Act is a type of eviction that allows owners to go out of the residential housing business.

This is a very complex process and it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice before attempting this type of eviction or defending against this type of eviction.

Learn more about evictions pursuant to the Ellis Act.

Temporary evictions for Capital Improvements

Temporary evictions for Capital Improvements

A landlord may temporarily evict a tenant pursuant to Ordinance Section 37.9(a)(11) if the landlord seeks in good faith and without ulterior motive to temporarily remove the unit from housing use in order to carry out capital improvements or rehabilitation work.

Learn more about temporary evictions for Capital Improvements.

The relocation fee rate for this type of eviction can vary based on the length of the temporary eviction. If the eviction is for less than 20 days then the rate is governed by state law and not the Rent Ordinance. Check here for current rates under Form 579: Relocation Payments under 37.9C.

Evictions to demolish or permanently remove a unit from housing use

Evictions to demolish or permanently remove a unit from housing use

A landlord may evict a tenant if the landlord seeks to demolish or to otherwise permanently remove the rental unit from housing use.

Learn more about evictions to demolish or permanently remove a unit from housing use.

Evictions based on substantial rehabilitation

Evictions based on substantial rehabilitation

A landlord may evict a tenant pursuant to Ordinance Section 37.9(a)(12) in order to perform substantial rehabilitation of a building containing essentially uninhabitable residential rental units of 50+ years of age which require substantial renovation in order to conform to contemporary standards. 

Learn more about evictions based on substantial rehabilitation. 

Some evictions are not because of tenant behavior.

There are evictions for owner or relative move-in, Ellis Act evictions, and others.

These evictions have different notice requirements but often require relocation payments.

Special cases

Roommates and subtenants

Roommates and subtenants

Only landlords are allowed to evict their tenants.

A master tenant is considered a landlord in relation to his or her subtenant, meaning that a master tenant may be able to evict a subtenant. 

Learn about roommates and subletting.

Not under the Rent Ordinance

Not under the Rent Ordinance

While most units in San Francisco are under the Rent Ordinance, not every unit is. Many affordable housing units are not under the Rent Ordinance and do not have eviction protections.

Even in these cases, a landlord is still required to go through the legal eviction process. They are still required to provide a notice and go through the unlawful detainer process to evict.

Find out if San Francisco rental laws apply to you.

Single family dwellings, condominiums, buildings built after 1979

Single family dwellings, condominiums, buildings built after 1979

While some buildings previously did not have eviction protections, under current San Francisco law, most privately rented dwelling units fall under the Rent Ordinance's eviction protections.

This includes single family dwellings, condominiums, and buildings built after 1979.

Check here for current rules and regulations under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.

The Eviction Moratorium

The Eviction Moratorium

The Eviction Moratorium ended on August 29, 2023.

Learn more about COVID-19 emergency tenant protections.

The Unlawful Detainer

If you receive an Unlawful Detainer you should immediately contact the Eviction Defense Collaborative at 415-659-9184.

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