San Francisco Buyout Agreement Legislation Now Effective

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San Francisco’s new tenancy buyout legislation became effective today. The Rent Ordinance now requires that landlords provide a disclosure form to tenants prior to opening buyout negotiations with them. (Landlords must retain a copy of the signed disclosure forms for five years.)

Landlords must also file a declaration form with the Rent Board, stating that they’ve provided tenants with the required disclosures prior to commencing buyout negotiations.

“Buyout Negotiations” are broadly defined as “any discussion or bargaining, whether oral or written, between a landlord and tenant regarding the possibility of entering into a Buyout Agreement”, with “Buyout Agreement” defined as “an agreement wherein the landlord pays the tenant money or other consideration to vacate the rental unit”.

Landlords are also required to file the executed Buyout Agreement with the Rent Board, which has begun keeping records of these agreements and will be providing access to a searchable database of buyout values by neighborhood. The Rent Ordinance now provides specific requirements for what must be in a Buyout Agreement and imposes two important deadlines: a tenant may rescind the Buyout Agreement for up to 45 days from execution, and the landlord must file the Buyout Agreement with the Rent Board within two weeks after it becomes binding.

The Rent Ordinance also provides for civil penalties for non-compliance (including for failing to include all required information in the Buyout Agreement). And, the execution of Buyout Agreements will now restrict the ability to convert buildings into condominiums for up to ten years, in a manner similar to the existing restrictions based on a landlord’s use of “non-fault” evictions (i.e., the City won’t sell residential condominium conversion lottery tickets, won’t accept residential condominium conversion subdivision application forms and won’t accept a tentative or final subdivision or parcel map, if the landlord entered either two Buyout Agreements or entered one Buyout Agreement with an elderly, disabled or catastrophically ill tenant in a single building.)