Update on SF’s 10-Day Warning Law

Posted by  wasserman 

San Francisco now requires a warning notice to be sent before an owner may serve a formal eviction notice.  The new 10-day warning procedure was legislatively created because of a concern that some residents might not have enough time to cure objectionable conduct or may otherwise be confused about when a lease violation has to stop.  In response, this ten-day “cure period” was implemented to, in the words of the Supervisors, “provide clarity around what constitutes just cause” to terminate a tenancy so as to avoid a potential housing displacement.

So here’s how it works.  Under state law, tenants are usually afforded three days to cure a lease violation, whether that violation is a failure to pay rent, to rectify the breach of a lease obligation, or to curtail objectionable behavior.  For example, if the resident is smoking inside the residence and the lease prohibits smoking, an owner may issue a notice giving the tenant three days to stop this activity or risk being evicted.  There are a series of rules that determine how the three days are to be counted, so oftentimes tenants are not aware of when the deadline exists for the cure period.  The new 10-day rule informs the offenders that they have ten days after receipt of the written warning to rectify whatever it is the owner finds to be problematic.  Only after the ten-day period expires may the owner then issue a formal three-day notice, and only after the three day period expires may the owner commence eviction proceedings in court.  In essence, this new procedural requirement affords tenants about 15 to 20 days to address landlord grievances.  Both the Rent Board and the SFAA have developed a 10-day form to use.

The 10-day rule applied to the following “just causes” under the San Francisco Rent Ordinance:  (i) failure to pay rent; (ii) breach of a lease covenant; (iii) the commission of a nuisance; (iv) using the apartment for an illegal purpose; (v) refusing to renew an expiring lease term; and (vi) denying the landlord lawful access to the residence.  The 10-day rule does not apply when the tenant is causing or creating an imminent risk of physical harm to persons or property.  As explained below, the new law now no longer applies to the failure to pay rent.

The housing industry objected to the fact that the 10-day notice period substantially elongated the rent collection processes. Consequently, SFAA filed a legal challenge to this portion of the law.  On July 22, 2022, the San Francisco Superior Court granted SFAA’s request to strike the nonpayment of rent ground from the 10-day requirement, meaning no 10-day warning need be issued at this time for nonpayment of rent demands.  Rather, you may simply send out a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit should your tenant fail to remit monthly rent on time.  The case name is SFAA v. City and County of San Francisco, Case Number CPF-22-517718.  Zacks, Freedman & Patterson is the law firm representing the industry, and they as usual have done an incredible job.  Note that the City may appeal this decision to the higher courts, so please monitor announcements and updates from SFAA with regard to this very important issue.