DBI & Planning Department Announce Plan Review Fees Waived for Legalization of In-Law Units


September 11, 2015

DBI Contact:  Lily Madjus Wu, (415) 537-0345 cell

Planning Contact: Gina Simi, (415) 575-9119





Saving property owners approximately $3, 000 in legalizing units’ fees


SAN FRANCISCO – The Department of Building Inspection (DBI), regulatory enforcement agency of the City’s more than 200,000 commercial and residential buildings, and San Francisco Planning, announced that starting September 5, 2015, plan review fees at Building and Planning are waived for property owners who apply to legalize an existing illegal in-law unit. This waiver can save property owners a total of about $3, 000 in plan review fees.


“Waiving plan review fees is another step to help encourage property owners to legalize their existing in-law units and ensure that existing housing units are up-to-code and safer for tenants,” said Tom Hui, Director of the Department of Building Inspection.  “We hope that with this new financial incentive property owners will take advantage of the City’s important Unit Legalization Program, and add to our stock of safe, code-compliant and affordable housing.”


“One of the City’s goals is to retain existing affordable units,” said John Rahaim, Director of San Francisco Planning. “Legalizing an in-law unit through this program will allow the City to preserve a significant source of low-cost housing and help stabilize our neighborhoods by keeping San Franciscans in their homes.”


The Plan Review Fee Waiver, per ordinance 146-15, was passed by the Board of Supervisors and signed by Mayor Edwin Lee in early August and took legal effect on September 5th. This fee waiver complements efforts by DBI and San Francisco Planning to have property owners voluntarily legalize their existing in-law units. Through the Unit Legalization Program, which was established in May 2014, allows property owners to take steps needed to formally legalize their in-law unit by completing the Unit Legalization process. Through this process, property owners ensure that life-safety conditions and building codes are compliant and the unit is legally rentable. 


In order for a property to qualify for the Unit Legalization Program, the property would have had:

• An existing illegal unit prior to January 2013

• No-fault evictions with Rent Board have not occurred after March 2014

• Completed Information Sheet G-17 Screening Form


DBI, along with San Francisco Planning, have been assisting both renters and home owners to understand their roles and rights with the Program. Prior to applying for a permit to legalize their unit, property owners may receive an estimation of the costs to legalize their units by undergoing an initial screening process, which is an informal consultation with DBI Staff. The screening process is non-binding and free of charge at both Building and Planning. 


Property owners can avail of this fee waiver until the year 2020. For more information about the Unit Legalization Program, please visit www.sfdbi.org/unitlegalization or DBI’s Unit Legalization Counter at 1660 Mission Street, counter #8 on the 1st Floor or call (415) 558-6117.

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About the Department of Building Inspection (DBI)

The Department of Building Inspection (DBI) oversees the effective, efficient, fair and safe enforcement of the City and County of San Francisco’s building, housing, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and disability access codes for San Francisco’s more than 200,000 buildings. Please visit www.sfdbi.org for more information.


About the Planning Department

San Francisco Planning, under the direction of the Planning Commission, shapes the future of San Francisco and the region by: generating an extraordinary vision for the General Plan and in neighborhood plans; fostering exemplary design through planning controls; improving our surroundings through environmental analysis; preserving our unique heritage; encouraging a broad range of housing and a diverse job base; and enforcing the Planning Code. For more information, visit www.sfplanning.org.