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Evicting a Residential Tenant in San Francisco

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How to Evict a Residential Tenant in San Francisco

San Francisco residential tenancy laws are very complicated. These laws tend to protect the tenant and prevent eviction. Although difficult, it is still possible for a landlord to evict a tenant.

Eviction Process

Landlords cannot evict their tenants by locking them out or cutting off their utilities (i.e. self help evictions). Instead, landlords must go through the court process. Generally, the eviction process consists of five steps:

  1. Landlord gives first eviction notice – a notice to quit.
  2. If the tenant does not move out, then the landlord gives a second eviction notice that is obtained through the courts – an unlawful detainer.
  3. Court hearing for the tenant to challenge the eviction.
  4. Court decides who wins.
  5. If landlord wins, then the Sheriff posts a third and final notice – Sheriff’s notice. Afterwards, the Sheriff will enter onto the property and remove the tenants.

How Long Does This Process Take?

Depending on how troublesome your tenant is, the eviction process may be very long and complicated. The best-case scenario is where your tenant moves out within a month of your first notice to quit, which hardly happens.

Rent Control

Buildings built before March 1979 are subject to both rental control and eviction protection. A landlord cannot increase the rent by more than 0.01% per year.

Reasons to Evict a Tenant

The landlord can only evict the tenant for one of 15 reasons:

  • Failure to pay rent on time
  • Violation of rental agreement
  • Creation of a nuisance or damage to the property
  • Rental agreement ended and tenant refuses to sign/renew agreement
  • Refusal of landlord to enter into unit
  • Only a non-approved subtenant is living in the unit
  • Owner move-in
  • Landlord seeks to temporary remove the unit from housing use to repair or to make major improvements
  • Landlord seeks to make substantial remodeling
  • Ellis Act
  • Remove tenants for 30days only to get rid of lead paint per San Francisco Health Code
  • Landlord wants to demolish building to permanently remove it from housing use

Consulting a Lawyer

Eviction in San Francisco can be a long and complex process, especially for older buildings subject to rent control. Most of the time, landlords have to sue the tenant in court to get rid of him. A real estate lawyer can help you navigate the court system, and save you time and money by quickly evicting your tenant.

Photo of page author Mabel Yee

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-08-2014 12:15 PM PST

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