For Tenants

Are you a tenant of a soft story building? Has your property owner notified you of upcoming seismic retrofit work to your building? This program has been designed to increase the safety of buildings during an earthquake. It requires that, if a building has been determined through a screening process involving the Department of Building Inspection (DBI), the building’s owner, and a licensed design professional to be a part of this program, their building undergo a seismic retrofit. The work will be required to be done to the building's lower level (only), and  will be started and completed according to the tier in which the building has been placed. Please consult the Soft Story Database for specific information about your building’s status within this program.

Here are some resources to assist with what to do next:

Temporary Severance of Specified Housing Services During Mandatory Seismic Retrofit

Effective August 30, 2014, Rent Ordinance Section 37.2(r) was amended to allow a property owner to temporarily sever specified housing services from the tenancy, including parking and storage, without a "just cause" reason in order to perform the mandatory soft-story seismic retrofit work required by Chapter 4D of the San Francisco Exsiting Building Code. Tenants will not be entitled to a rent reduction for the temporary loss of the housing service, but will be entitled to either compensation or a substitute housing service as provided in Administrative Code Chapter 65A. Click here for more information.  

Tenant Financial Hardship

Help is available. In general, appeals based on financial hardship must be filed within 15 days after the decision is mailed. However, there is no time limitation for a tenant hardship appeal from a decision based on a capital improvement petition filed after February 20, 2003. A tenant need not pay the approved rent increase while his or her hardship appeal is being processed and considered. If the appeal is denied, the tenant will have to pay the rent increase going back to the effective date. Click here for more information.

Commercial Tenants and Soft Story Retrofit

Through the screening process it is believed that 700 buildings contain a space permitted for commercial use. To help ease the process of complying with this program, the Earthquake Safety Implementation Program has worked directly with the Mayor's Office of Small Business, who can offer assistance to small businesses navigating this process. Please contact them at 415-554-6134 for any questions.

What Happens if your Building is in Violation?

Buildings that are in violation of this program are subject to the enforcement of the San Francisco Building Code. Read more about violations and the code enforcement process.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for Tenants. For more information on tenant's rights contact the San Francisco Rent Board


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25 Van Ness Ave., Suite 320 8 AM - 5 PM
San Francisco, CA 94102-6033 Monday - Friday excluding holidays
(Cross street is Market Street) Phone: 415-252-4602

Fax: 415-252-4699