May a city enforce a local ordinance preventing residential landlords from demanding an above-market rent increase to gain possession when they are exempt from rent control?

San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco

Facts: A city ordinance prohibits residential landlords of newly constructed units from increasing rent to intentionally coerce tenants into vacating when the landlord is exempt from state rent control limitations on increases in rent. The city’s purpose for enacting the ordinance is to regulate artificially high rents which exceed market rental rates. An apartment association opposes the ordinance seeking a writ of mandate in a challenge to stop enforcement of the ordinance.

Claim: The apartment association claims the rent limitation ordinance is unenforceable as a violation of state law exempting newly constructed residential units from limitations on rent increases since the ordinance regulates the amount of rental increases an exempt landlord may impose on tenants.

Counterclaim: The city claims the ordinance does not violate state law since the purpose of the ordinance is to prohibit residential landlords from imposing above-market rates of increased rent to financially force tenants to vacate properties exempt from rent control.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the ordinance does not violate state law and is enforceable by the city against landlords of residential rental property exempt from rent control since the ordinance is designed to prevent residential landlords from attempting to deliberately avoid local eviction ordinances by demanding artificially high rent to obtain residential units from tenants and does not regulate by setting the amount of rent a landlord exempt from rent control may charge. [San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco (February 3rd, 2022) _CA6th_]

Read San Francisco Apartment Association v. City and County of San Francisco here.

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Chapter 58: Residential Rent Control

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