Profile picture for benknight

Is my SF apartment technically a single-family dwelling?

I was shocked to learn recently that my San Francisco apartment, in a building constructed well before 1979, is not covered by the rental increase portion of the San Francisco Rental Ordinance when my landlord hit me with a $1,000 increase in my rent (an increase of over 25%).

I learned through extensive research online that this was because of an exception introduced in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, in which "single-family dwellings" became exempt from rental increase limitations provided the tenancy began *after* 1996.  My tenancy began in 2012.

The only question I have at this point is this: is my apartment in fact a single-family dwelling?  I can't seem to find a legal definition of this term, at least for San Francisco.  What makes me question this is the fact that my apartment is in a building where the bottom floor is a commercial space (a laundromat), and my apartment is a single unit above it.  Generally single-family dwellings are thought of as free-standing residential-only buildings (i.e. a house).  The building I live in is certainly not a house, at least by common conventions.
  • November 17 2013 - Mission
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Answers (6)

Best Answer

Or...go to the Building Department and check with their 3R & Records management division to confirm what the present authorized occupancy and use is for that building. 
  • December 02 2013
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Yep...it's a pricey report.  I'm not sure if anyone has had any luck doing a "walk in" and asking one of the clerks for the occupancy designation (without requiring that you order an actual 3R report), but it might be worth a try given your circumstances.  You never know.
  • December 04 2013
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Profile picture for benknight
David, I like your suggestion!  Thanks for that.

Unfortunately it costs $160 to get a 3R report emailed to you.
  • December 03 2013
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I contacted the SFTU as well as read most of the content on their site.  All they can do is confirm that single-family dwellings are exempt but I still don't know if my building qualifies.
  • November 18 2013
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
You would be best served by contacting an organization such as the SF tenants union.  

good luck
  • November 17 2013
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For loan purposes there are single-family-attached (condos, town-homes, co-ops) and single-family-detached (houses) units. If you have one apartment above a commercial space, I can't see how it could be anything but single family. In loan jargon it would be single-family mixed-use. Hope this helps.
  • November 17 2013
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