Q: I rent an in-law unit in a single-family home, in a city with rent control. I happen to know that the unit is illegal -- it does not have a permit. My landlord says that because the structure is a single-family home, it's outside of rent control, so he doesn't have to abide by the yearly permissible rent increase. What do you think? --Axel T. A: Consult your rent control ordinance and see what it says about coverage under the ordinance. A thoughtfully written ordinance (or perhaps regulations that express it or court decisions that interpret it) will not support your landlord's theory. For example, by state law single-family homes are not rent-controlled in California, but San Francisco has its own definition of what constitutes a single-family home. In that city, if the structure has only one rental unit (the whole house), it's single-family and the rent is not controlled. But if there's a second unit, it's no longer single-family, even if the second unit is not legal....
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