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The rules and regulations governing condo conversions are complicated and vary widely depending on the city, county, and state in which the property is located. Even different neighborhoods within the same community may have different rules related to condo conversions. And these regulations are subject to change at any time.

Local regulations may vary in terms of the type of protections offered to renters, the number of units that can be converted each year, and the approval process itself. There are inspections to contend with, timelines to comply with, and eligibility requirements related to eviction history, tenant rights, and rent control to consider. And, of course, market conditions vary widely from one city to the next, and one neighborhood to the next, and are constantly changing.

The bottom line is EVERY property is unique and no two projects have the same requirements. Each project must be evaluated individually.

Even savvy real estate developers and investors find condo conversion a daunting process without an expert familiar with the farrago of regulations to guide them.

Below is a brief overview of condo conversion rules in San Francisco and Oakland. Other Bay Area cities often have less stringent rules.



Condo conversion laws in San Francisco are very complicated and have recently been revised. Some of these changes are being phased in over several years. Which units are eligible to convert depends on several factors, including the type and size of the building, whether the unit is occupied by an owner or a renter, and the eviction history of the building.

Until recently, residential property owners who wanted to convert had to enter an annual city-run lottery. However, only 200 units were selected each year. As a result, some applicants were forced to wait many years to convert — and some were never selected at all.

In 2013, San Francisco suspended the condo conversion lottery until at least 2024. In its place, the city adopted an “Expedited Conversion Program” (ECP) to help address the backlog of buildings waiting to be converted to condos. However, existing apartment or mixed-use buildings with more than six residential units cannot be converted. As of June 2017, such buildings with non-owning tenants (renters) were excluded from the program. The ECP will end on January 20, 2020, after which most conversions will have to wait until the eventual restoration of the lottery in 2024 or later.

However, the condo conversion "two-unit conversion bypass" rules for existing buildings are not affected by the ECP. As a result, they are more flexible and have shorter waiting times for owner eligibility and are not subject to the new impact fees. The new “Expedited Conversion Fee” is in addition to the current fees charged by the City for processing the conversion. The fees collected are allocated 25 percent to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and 75 percent to the Citywide Affordable Housing Fund. This fee is not charged to “bypass” conversions of two-unit, owner-occupied properties.

The revised rules do not affect existing commercial buildings, some of which can still be converted into commercial condominiums that can be individually sold.



All multi-unit residential buildings in Oakland can be converted into condominiums, regardless of whether or not the owner resides in the property, but the regulations vary depending on where the building is specifically located and number of units.


Disclaimer: The rules and regulations governing condo conversions are subject to change at any time at the discretion of city, county, and state officials.


WHITE TIGER teams with leading legal experts experienced in the condo conversion process to guide you through the tangle of laws and regulations