San Francisco has enacted its third emergency rent increase freeze. Like the previous one, Ordinance 158-20 was meant to apply (retroactively) upon the expiration of its predecessor.
However, Section 2.107 of the San Francisco Charter dictates that emergency ordinances are effective immediately upon passage, not “whenever the Board of Supervisors feels like”. Therefore, the previous ordinance (probably) expired later than it claimed to, which makes it unclear when the Board believes the 60 days of emergency Ordinance 158-20 is supposed to start running.
According to the Charter, its passage on August 25, 2020 means that it will expire October 25th.
Ordinance 114-20, passed as an emergency ordinance, re-enacts its predecessor Ordinance 68-20 to suspend the annual allowable rent increase for 60 days, per Section 2.107 of the San Francisco Charter (unless re-enacted again).
According to Section 2.107, an emergency ordinance is effectively immediately upon passage (which, for this ordinance was July 7, 2020). However, Ordinance 114-20 states that it is instead effective immediately after the expiration of Ordinance 68-20 (which is likely because the first emergency ordinance expired on June 23, 2020, before it this one was passed.
When in doubt, follow the charter. Ordinance 114-20 probably expires on the 61st day after passage – or September 6, 2020.
San Francisco passed legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Preston, which prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent, for any rent due during Governor Newsom’s eviction moratorium, which is currently extended through September 30, 2020. Therefore, for rents due between the original March 16th order and September 30th (as may be further continued), San Francisco landlords cannot collect this rent (and the unit) via an unlawful detainer lawsuit.
Unsurprisingly, several industry groups – the San Francisco Apartment Association, the San Francisco Association of Realtors, the Coalition for Better Housing, and the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute have sued to overturn the ordinance.
The full text of Ordinance 93-20 is available here.
Signed into law on April 24, 2020, but retroactive to April 7, 2020, Ordinance 68-20 temporarily suspends certain rent increases during the Mayor’s eviction moratorium prompted by the COVID-19 epidemic. The suspension applies to increases under Section 37.3(a) of the Rent Ordinance (which covers annual allowable increases, as well as any banked increases from previous years, and various passthroughs).
Now, it’s questionable whether even the Mayor’s emergency powers under the San Francisco Charter permit retroactive laws, though they may permit immediate ones. And otherwise, the authority of local governments to manipulate landlord’s state law procedural protections is strictly limited. Cities also lack authority to impose rental rate restrictions that prevent rents from keeping pace with inflation.
That said, Ordinance 68-20 contains specific references to the “anniversary date not being affected by deferral of the increase”. Likewise, it states that the right to impose the increase shall “immediately resume” when the moratorium expires. Likely, a landlord may send the increase, preserve the anniversary date, and simply not require the additional payment.