California Civil Code:
Section 1941.1 “Implied Warranty of Habitability”
Your landlord is responsible for maintaining the basic living conditions of your apartment such as the plumbing, heating, electricity, floors, walls, stairs, and windows. The landlord is also responsible for keeping the apartment building free of garbage, trash, rats, mice, cockroaches, and other vermin (also refer to California Health & Safety Code Section 17920.3).
- Effective weatherproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls…including unbroken windows and doors.
- Plumbing or gas facilities that conformed to applicable law…maintained in good working order.
- A water supply approved under applicable law that is under the control of the tenant or water system that is under the control of the landlord…capable of producing…hot and cold running water…furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system.
- Heating facilities that conformed to applicable law…maintained in good working order.
- Electrical lighting, wiring, and equipment that conformed with applicable law at the time of installation…maintained in good working order.
- Buildings, grounds, appurtenances, and all areas under control of the landlord at the time of the lease or rental agreement, in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, or vermin.
- An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair…with the landlord providing serviceable receptacles thereafter, and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of such receptacles under his control.
- Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.
- In effective July 1, 2008, a locking mail receptacle for each residential unit in a residential hotel, as required by Section 17958.3 of the Health and Safety Code.
Section 1941.2 “Tenant’s Duty of Habitability”
A landlord may not be responsible for repairing damages or dilapidation if the tenant is in substantial violations of his/her affirmative obligation under the law. The tenant, in good faith, shall:
- Properly operate all electrical, gas and plumbing fixtures, and keep them clean and sanitary.
- Not “willfully or wantonly destroy, deface, damage or impair any part of the structure or dwelling unit or the facilities, equipment or appurtenances thereto,” nor permit any other person to do this.
- Only use parts of the dwelling “for living, sleeping, cooking or dining…which are respectively designed or intended to be used for such occupancies.”
- Dispose of “all rubbish, garbage and other waste, in a clean and sanitary manner.”
- Keep that part of the premises which she occupies clean and sanitary “as the condition of the premises permits.”
Section 1499 Rent Receipt
When you pay rent, you have a right to get a signed receipt. The landlord must accept or acknowledge receipt of rent, as well as cash your rent check within 30 days. If the landlord refuses, it constitutes tenant harassment.
A debtor (i.e. the tenant) has a right to require from his creditor a written receipt for any property delivered in performance of his obligation. Leg.H.1872.
Section 1950.5 Security Deposit
No later than twenty-one (21) calendar days after the tenant has vacated the premises…the landlord shall furnish the tenant, by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of an itemized statement indicating the basis for, and the amount of, any security received and the disposition of the security and shall return any remaining portion of the security to the tenant.
Section 789.3 (b) Lockouts
A landlord cannot lock you out, removes outside doors or windows, or remove personal property with the intention of ending your tenancy. Lockouts and utility cutoffs are crimes for which a landlord can be arrested and jailed. If your landlord is preventing you from gaining reasonable access into your unit/apartment:
- Call the police and have them assist you in convincing the landlord to let you back in (CA. Penal Code section 418 gives them this jurisdiction in the matter).
- Having your ID with you or a form of utility bill with your address will help assist the police in getting you back into your unit/apartment.
- Break back in! It’s not illegal to break into your own house.
- Sue for damages as provided in CA. Civil Code section 789.3 (b) and S.F. Administrative Code section 37.10B, and for injunctive relief under Code of Civil Procedures section 527.6(b).
San Francisco Housing Code:
Section 1306 Sanitation
Each room, hallway, passageway, stairway, wall, partition, ceiling, floor, skylight, glass windows, doors, carpet, rug, matting, window curtain, water closet compartment or room, toilet room, bathroom, slop-sink room, wash room, plumbing fixture, drain, roof, closet, basement, yard, court, lot, and the premises of every building shall be kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulation of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, vermin, mold and mildew and offensive matter.
Section 701 (c) Heating
Heat must be capable of maintain a room temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit at a point midway between the heat source and farthest wall and at 3’-0” above the floor, and shall be made available to each occupied habitable room for minimum of 13 hours each day between 5am to 11am and 3pm to 10pm.
Section 204 Violations
Any person or entity who violates, disobeys, omits, fails, neglects or refuses to comply with, or who resist or opposes the execution of any of the provisions of this Code, or any notice or order of the Director of the Department of Building Inspection made pursuant to this Code, relating to fire safety, the provision of heat or hot water, or the existence of conditions that endanger the life, limb, health or safety of any person or the public may be charged with a misdemeanor pursuant to Section 204(b).
San Francisco Rent Ordinance:
The San Francisco Rent Ordinance (under S.F. Administrative Code chapter 37), therefore established the Residential Rent Stabilization & Arbitration Board, was enacted effective June 13th, 1979 to places restrictions on rent by assuring landlords fair and adequate rental rules (consistent with Federal Anti-inflation Guidelines), and to determine how and when tenants can be evicted.
Most residential rental units in buildings that were constructed before June 13th, 1979 are covered by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. The following are types of dwelling units exempted 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 consecutive days or more.
- Dwelling units in non-profit cooperatives owned.
- Dwelling units solely owned by non-profit public benefit cooperation.
- 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.
- Certain dwelling units whose rent 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 13th, 1979.
- 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 issued after June 13th, 1979.
- A residential unit where there is no longer residential use and there is a commercial or other non-residential use.
Section 37.9 (a) “Just Cause” Evictions
Tenants who are occupying a rental unit covered by the Rent Ordinance are protected under “Just Cause” evictions. In order for a landlord to proceed with eviction, the landlord must have a “just cause” reason that is the dominant motive for pursing the eviction.
In 1998, the Ordinance has extended eviction protections of “Just Cause” for tenants receiving tenant-based rental assistance from controlled or regulated government agency.
There are fifteen (15) “Just Cause” reasons for eviction under Ordinance section 37.9(a). The most common are:
- Non-payment of rent or habitual late payment of rent.
- Breach of a rental agreement or lease.
- Owner-occupancy or occupancy by a member of the landlord’s immediate family.
- To perform capital improvements which will make the unit temporarily uninhabitable while the work is being done.
- To withdraw the rental units from the rental market under Ellis Act.
Note: 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.
Residential SRO Hotel Housing Laws
California Civil Code:
Section 1940.1 Evading Tenancy in Residential Hotels (Musical Rooming)
Under this law, the hotel operator cannot require an occupant of a hotel room to move or to check out and reregister before the expiration of thirty (30) day occupancy period if a purpose of the move is to circumvent the law and deny the occupant tenant status, as defined in Section 50519 of the Health & Safety Code.
Section 1941.4 Telephone Wiring
The lessor of a building intended for the residential occupation of human beings shall be responsible for installing at least one usable telephone jack and for placing and maintaining the inside telephone wiring in good working order, and shall ensure that the inside telephone wiring meets the applicable standards of the recent National Electrical Code, adopted by the Electronic Industry Association.
San Francisco Housing Code:
Section 505 (b) Sanitation
Hotel guestrooms shall be provided with a water-closet, a lavatory, and a bathtub or shower, within the guest room or said facilities may be situated off the exit corridor on the same floor.
The minimum number of public sanitary facilities required per floor when guest rooms do not contain requisite sanitary facilities is as follows:
Total Number of Public Sanitary Facilities Required for Guest Rooms (per Floor)
|Existing Number of Guest Rooms per Floor||Public Sanitary Facilities Required|
|2 – 20||2|
|21 – 30||3|
|31- 4 0||4|
|41 – 50||5|
|51 – 60||6|
|61 – 70||7|
Section 1308 Bedding
In every apartment house or hotel every part of every bed, including the mattresses, sheets, blankets and bedding, shall be kept in a clean, dry and sanitary condition, free from filth, urine or other foul matter, and from the infestation of lice, bedbugs or other insects.
The bed linen of a bed in a hotel shall be changed as often as a new guest occupies the bed.
San Francisco Administrative Code:
Section 41D Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy
In 2002, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors created the Single Room Occupancy Hotel Safety and Stabilization Task Force, also known as the “SRO Task Force”, in order to approve a uniform visitor policy for residential hotels.
This law prohibits all visitor and guest fees and guarantees tenants the right to have visitors between the hours of 9:00am to 9:00pm daily, as well as having eight (8) overnight guests per month.
The San Francisco Rent Board is authorized to hear complaints of non-compliance with the provisions of the Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy and may file a petition for a reduction in rent. (A tenant need not live in a hotel for thirty-two (32) continuous days before he can file a petition.) Police Code section 919.9 gives the San Francisco Police Department this jurisdiction to enforce this provision.
To obtain a copy of the current Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy, you can fax it to yourself through the Rent Board’s Fax Back system by calling (415) 252-4660 or visit their website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard/ The Policy is also available at their office in multiple languages.