New Legislation Creates A Housing Inventory And Requires Owners To Obtain a License Before Imposing Annual/Banked Rent Increases

A new law requires owners of residential housing units in San Francisco to begin reporting certain information about their units to the Rent Board on an annual basis.
January 22, 2021

Ordinance No. 265-20, which became effective on January 18, 2021, requires owners of residential housing units in San Francisco to begin reporting certain information about their units to the Rent Board. The Rent Board will use this information to create and maintain a “housing inventory” of all units in San Francisco that are subject to the Rent Ordinance.

The Rent Board has developed a secure website portal that provides an interface for owners to submit the required information using an online form. The Rent Board may also develop a procedure for tenants to report information about their units, but reporting by tenants is optional and not required.

If the owner informs the Rent Board that the unit is occupied by an owner and is not rented at any time, no further information will needed to be reported about the unit. If a unit is not owner-occupied (either because it is vacant, tenant-occupied, or used for some other purpose), the owner will need to disclose certain additional information about the unit to the Rent Board, including:

  1. The name and business contact information (address, phone number, email address) of the owner(s), or of the property manager, if any, designated by the owner(s) to address habitability issues;
  2. The business registration number for the unit, if any;
  3. The approximate square footage and number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the unit (to the best of the owner’s or manager’s knowledge);
  4. Whether the unit is vacant or occupied, and the date the vacancy or occupancy commenced;
  5. The start and end dates of any other vacancies or occupancies that have occurred during the previous 12 months;
  6. For tenant-occupied units, the base rent reported in $250 increments, and whether the base rent includes payment of utilities by the landlord (e.g. water/sewer, refuse/recycling, natural gas, electricity, etc.); and;
  7. Any other information that the Rent Board deems appropriate following a noticed public meeting in order to effectuate the purposes of the Rent Ordinance.

The Rent Board will use the information provided to generate reports and surveys, to investigate and analyze rents and vacancies, to monitor compliance with the Rent Ordinance, and to assist landlords and tenants and other City departments as needed. The Rent Board may not use the information to operate a “rental registry” within the meaning of California Civil Code Sections 1947.7 – 1947.8.

For units (other than condominium units) in buildings of 10 residential units or more, owners are required to begin reporting this information to the Rent Board by July 1, 2022, with updates due on March 1, 2023 and every March 1 thereafter. For condominium units and units in buildings with less than 10 residential units, reporting will begin on March 1, 2023 with updates due every March 1 thereafter. Owners are also required to inform the Rent Board within 30 days of any change in the name or business contact information of the owner or designated property manager.

In addition, the legislation requires owners to obtain a license from the Rent Board before imposing any annual and/or banked rent increases upon tenants. The license will only be issued by the Rent Board if the owner is in substantial compliance with the housing inventory’s reporting requirements. If the landlord does not provide the required information to the Rent Board, the owner’s license to impose annual and/or banked rent increases will be suspended for the period of noncompliance.