I am seeking for a new place in San Francisco. After chatting with a home owner who liked me as a potential tenant, we disagreed on the price, and his reasoning is that since this is a unit under the San Francisco rent control laws, if he leases it for a "low" price then he might be stuck with this price for many years without any power to increase it substantially.

My intention is to not stay in this house for more than two years, and I am happy to revoke my right to the rent control benefits in order to find a midway between his position and my proposed price, which he would be keen to accept for the first year. Can I sign a document where I agree to waive this right, or this would hold no validity in court?

  • 17
    Under most rent control laws, this is not possible - if it were, then since the landlords hold most of the negotiating power, they would insist that every tenant waive their rights, and the whole purpose would be defeated. I can't advise you as to SF specifically, though. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 2:38
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    It might be possible to have an agreement where you pay the higher rent, and the landlord rebates part of it if you do move out within two years. You would really want to trust the landlord, though, and probably have a lawyer draft the agreement. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 2:40
  • @NateEldredge I am going to create a new question debating this proposal
    – A. Fenzry
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 7:04
  • 1
    I do not know your situation. But my understanding that a common way to get around this is through short term housing such as hostels, hotels, The downside is that at some point, your landlord might evict you solely for the purpose of disallowing you tenant status.
    – emory
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 16:08
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    And here we see the issue with leftist policies: while rent control is presented as "A landlord can't raise the rent", thus framed away as taking a freedom away from landlords, it really means that every apartment rental must be bundled with a rent guarantee, and a renter loses the freedom to rent an apartment without having to pay for the economic price of that guarantee. Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


The Rent Ordinance para (e) explicitly precludes that possibility:

Any waiver by a tenant of rights under this Chapter 37 shall be void as contrary to public policy.

If he attempts to enforce such a clause or in any way dislodge you from the unit, he is liable for a substantial penalty.

The legality of a rebate scheme is not clear, but probably would also be deemed illegal, because there already exists provision for buyout, which has specific restrictions. For the rest of the week, tenant buyouts are subject to these provisions. The problem is that the horse may have left the barn. The landlord has to have provided you with a Pre-Buyout Disclosure Form (which is to be signed and filed) before any negotiation / discussion with the tenant. Since we're talking about obeying the law, it has to occur to the landlord that there is a buyout option, and then he has to give you and file the disclosure form before he opens his mouth. He also has to know what the requirements of a buyout agreement will be in the future. Starting on Monday, the law regarding buyouts changes (it doesn't clearly make an agreement impossible, but it's a reminder that the law can be changed). In terms of legally-enforceable agreements, you could agree to a buyout in the far future, but the agreement might not be enforceable under future law. For example, the disclosure form requires new information to be provided, so if he doesn't do that, the disclosure is invalid (the preamble to the amendment points out that the change in law was directed at legal actions that were considered to violate the spirit of the law). Hence a buyout for two years in the future is legally risky.

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    Do you think a clause like the one proposed by Nate Eldredge above could be used to find a way around this problem?
    – A. Fenzry
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 5:43
  • Your potential landlord is full of it, SF rent control is rent stabilization, rent resets to market rate between tenants and he can increase it at will when you move out.
    – crasic
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 20:59

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