Unit Registration and Licensing Law

In December of 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a rent ordinance amendment that will require unit registration and licensing.  The Rent Board will be develop a form to use for this mandatory reporting.  This is major legislation that will impact the industry in many ways.  In particular, we will now have an accurate measurement of citywide vacancy rates and rent prices.  Moreover, should vacancy control ever pass, the City will now have an infrastructure in place to determine future rents for vacated units.

Owners shall report the following information under penalty of perjury for each rental unit that is rented:  (i) the name and business contact information (address, phone number, email address) of the owner or property manager; (ii) the business registration number for the unit; (iii) the approximate square footage of the unit, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the unit; (iv) whether the unit is vacant or occupied, and the date when the last vacancy occurred or the current occupancy commenced; (v) the start and end dates of any other vacancies or occupancies that have occurred in the previous 12 months; (vi) the base rent for the unit in $250 increments, and whether the base rent includes utilities (water/sewer, refuse/recycling, natural gas, electricity, etc.); and (vii) “any other information” that the Rent Board deems appropriate.  For owner-occupied units, you must report that it is owner-occupied but need not report anything further.

The timing for compliance is as follows: (1)  For units in buildings with 10 units or more, this information must initially be reported to the Rent Board by July 1, 2022, updated by March 1, 2023, and further updated each year thereafter by March 1;  and, (2) in buildings with fewer than 10 units, including condominiums, the initial information must be reported by March 1, 2023 and updated by March 1 of each successive year.  The Rent Board will create a database with this information and shall regularly generate reports analyzing citywide rents and vacancies.

Only owners who have substantially complied with these reporting laws shall receive a license and business registration number.  Without a license, a landlord may not impose rent increases.  The Rent Board annual fee assessed against every rental unit shall be appropriately increased to include the costs associated with administering this new program.  The Rent Board Commission will begin meeting to discuss what “other information” should be required early in 2021, so stay tuned for more excitement!  SFAA will be offering classes in 2021 on how to comply with this new law, and you will receive announcements about upcoming Rent Board meetings where the public may voice input concerning what other information ought to be included in the annual reporting.

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