It’s the first of the month: What San Francisco tenants need to know

Dean Preston
3 min readSep 1, 2020

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There are a lot of changes happening locally and on the state level that impact renters in San Francisco. The state Judicial Council recently decided to allow eviction proceedings to resume in California courts after September 1, and a new state bill signed by the Governor has far-reaching impacts.

But your rent is due today! What should you do? And what about possible evictions — are they banned or not in San Francisco?

With all the overlapping state and local laws, we want to make crystal clear what San Francisco tenants need to know for September, especially:

  1. You cannot be evicted for nonpayment of September rent if you lost income (or incurred substantial expenses) due to COVID and can’t make rent this month. Thanks to our local eviction protection law, recently upheld in court, if you lost income due to COVID and cannot pay September rent, you cannot be evicted from your home. Those protections have been in place since April, and they extend through September. (While you can’t be kicked out of your home for nonpayment, you still owe the rent.) If that’s your situation, we recommend you (1) contact the SF Tenants Union or another tenant counseling organization for assistance, and (2) contact your landlord in writing to let them know you cannot pay. Here’s a Fact Sheet and Template Letter from the San Francisco Tenants Union.
  2. Most other evictions are banned for now. Even though the state Judicial Council has lifted the ban on eviction court filings, our local laws still bar most evictions for now in San Francisco. This is because my office, at the request of anti-displacement advocates, worked with Mayor Breed to issue an updated Directive in April that expanded tenant protections to cover more than just COVID-related nonpayment of rent. For now, so-called “no fault” evictions, like Owner Move Ins, Capital Improvement, and Demolition evictions, are off the table. In fact, under the Directive, all evictions are off the table in San Francisco, except:
  • Eviction is necessary due to violence, threats of violence, or health and safety issues.
  • Eviction is under the state Ellis Act (which the Governor Newsom has refused to reign in during the pandemic despite our requests).

That is the law for most San Francisco tenants today. There are significant changes on the horizon, but it’s important to know your rights today. And if you live in public or HUD-subsidized housing, different rules may apply, and you should contact the Housing Rights Committee or Bay Area Legal Aid for guidance and assistance.

Please talk with a tenant counselor or attorney about your individual situation if you have any questions. Contact any of the following tenant groups for help:

Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco

  • 415–703–8644
  • info@hrcsf.org

Chinatown Community Development Center

  • 415–984–2728
  • info@chinatowncdc.org

Causa Justa :: Just Cause

  • 415–487–9203
  • info@cjjc.org

San Francisco Tenants’ Union

For a complete list of resources, visit the Rent Board’s referral list.

Call to Action: Please contact the Governor and tell him to issue a comprehensive Eviction Moratorium to prevent displacement and homelessness. We should all be able to come together — as we have in San Francisco — to say no to evictions during a global pandemic.

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