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Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com

I moved into my apartment in June of this year. The lease I signed gave me an introductory rate of $950 per month for the first 6 months and $995 for the last 6 months. When I remarked about the increase to a co-worker, he told me that this increase sounded illegal and probably violated rent control laws. I had no idea. Is the $45 increase legal?

Am I getting a whiff of Parkmerced? Parkmerced, the sprawling group of high-rise apartments and townhouses next door to San Francisco State, is the largest rent controlled apartment complex in the City. Parkmerced comprises approximately 3,400 units. In order to increase upside in their investment, Parkmerced’s various owners, including the notorious (and now deceased) Leona Helmsley, have tenaciously challenged the San Francisco Rent Control Ordinance in court and devised schemes to try to contract around it. The Parkmerced Residents’ Organization is one of the oldest tenants’ associations in the City. They can tell you some stories.

Before I start slagging another broke (yep, belly-up, victims of their own greed, boo-hoo), big landlord, we need to understand if you are, in fact, being flim-flammed.

We need to see if you live in a rent-controlled apartment.

Generally, if your building was built before 1979 and it has two or more units, your tenancy is covered by the rent ordinance price and eviction controls. If you unit has been converted into a condominium, your tenancy is not subject to the allowable annual increase. In other words, the landlord can raise the rent as he pleases.

If you are not sure if the building was built before 1979, go to the San Francisco Tax Assessor-Recorder Website, Parcel Information tab, click the disclaimer and enter your address. Check the pop-up window to see when the building was constructed.

Enter Parkmerced. Five years ago when Parkmerced was the “Villas at Parkmerced” they had a program to entice renters called “Bonus Bucks.”

The scheme went like this: A tenant signed a one-year lease to rent an apartment for $1,675.00 per month, but received a monthly rebate of $350.00 effectively paying $1,375.00 per month. At the end of the lease term, Parkmerced increased the rent, using the allowable increase of 1.7% but based the increase on $1,675.00 rather than $1,375.00. The increases amounted to over 28%.

The Rent Board found that the increase was illegal and later, Parkmerced settled a class-action lawsuit reimbursing the illegal increases. Essentially, you cannot contract around the Rent Ordinance.

If your tenancy is rent controlled, your lease violates the Rent Ordinace in two ways. First, it establishes an increase six months after the inception of the tenancy. Second, the increase of $45.00 is about a 4.7% increase. The allowable increase this year is .1% Yes, one tenth of one percent!

In December, send your landlord a nice Christmas card explaining why you’re not going to be paying the $45.00 increase.

If the landlord sends you a three-day notice to pay or quit, pay the increase and file a petition at the Rent Board alleging an unlawful rent increase.

Okay, I’m dying to know, is your landlord Parkmerced?

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

the author

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

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  • jacksprat

    Is it PM?

  • jacksprat

    Is it PM?

  • Al

    What about giving a free month, then? It amounts to the same thing.

  • Al

    What about giving a free month, then? It amounts to the same thing.

  • Pinkie

    NOT Parkmerced. It’s a 12 unit building in the Upper Tenderloin.

  • Pinkie

    NOT Parkmerced. It’s a 12 unit building in the Upper Tenderloin.

  • RBictim

    1- SF Rent Ordinance allows an ANNUAL rent increase annually ie after a full 12 month rent.
    2-There is no rent increase here that falls under the definition of the Rent Board. The lease states that the rent is $950 for the first 6 monthes and then $995 for the second six monthes of the first year.
    3- The lease must contain language indicating that the base rent is $995/month and that the tenant will be offered a discounted rent for the first 6 months.

  • RBictim

    1- SF Rent Ordinance allows an ANNUAL rent increase annually ie after a full 12 month rent.
    2-There is no rent increase here that falls under the definition of the Rent Board. The lease states that the rent is $950 for the first 6 monthes and then $995 for the second six monthes of the first year.
    3- The lease must contain language indicating that the base rent is $995/month and that the tenant will be offered a discounted rent for the first 6 months.

  • goodmaab00

    Parkmerced still has blocked “families” from entering the non-rennovated units, by delay tactics.

    They also seem to be working on filling units in the towers, vs. garden units.

    many new renter’s are section 8, or returning vets, so they have been playing “games” with whom they are allowing in…. without scrutiny….

  • goodmaab00

    Parkmerced still has blocked “families” from entering the non-rennovated units, by delay tactics.

    They also seem to be working on filling units in the towers, vs. garden units.

    many new renter’s are section 8, or returning vets, so they have been playing “games” with whom they are allowing in…. without scrutiny….