SAN FRANCISCO—On Tuesday, June 9, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed, by a vote of 10-1, new legislation that will prevent San Francisco landlords from permanently evicting tenants for non-payment of rent.

As stated in the agenda from Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the legislation will “prohibit landlords from imposing late fees, penalties, or similar charges on such tenants; and making findings as required by the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.” 

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about San Franciscan’s ability to pay rent in a timely manner. On March 13, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued an emergency order banning evictions during the pandemic, as well as eliminating late fees and giving tenants more time to pay back their rent. The order was extended and amended on April 30, but is set to expire on June 30.

The new ordinance, sponsored by Supervisors Dean Preston, Hillary Ronan, Matt Haney, and Shamann Walton, makes the emergency order permanent to help alleviate residents’ concerns about being evicted after the current emergency order is lifted. It does not waive renters’ requirement to pay rent to their landlords.

Kyle Smeallie, legislative aide for Supervisor Preston, explained that “San Francisco has done a good job of stopping evictions during the state of emergency. But what we understand is that unless there were protections extended beyond the state of emergency, there would be thousands of eviction notices for not paying rent after the moratorium ends.”

He further noted that, even before COVID-19, many renters were paying 50 to 60 percent of their rent. As renters lose income due to the economic crisis, those who are undocumented, are at risk of being displaced if they evicted. He stated that this was the primary motivation for passing the ordinance.

Smeallie also clarified that “nothing in the ordinance stops landlords from getting money; it only takes eviction off the table.” Additionally, he noted that a proposed ballot measure in November would increase taxes on transactions at the highest end of the real-estate market ($10 million or more) to generate funds to pay back small landlords whose tenants can’t make up the rent.

Supervisor Stefani was the lone dissenting vote, expressing concerns about the legislation’s ability to hold up in court. Her office did not respond to requests for comment. The bill still needs to be signed by the mayor to go into law.