Nine in 10 San Francisco renters believe rent is too high, blame tech industry; one in five would sue landlord, Avvo study finds

Survey explores the San Francisco rental market and the impact of high rent, technology, and economic growth on landlords and tenants

Seattle, Wash — Online legal services provider Avvo today released the results of a study on the experiences and attitudes of renters in San Francisco, finding that nine out of ten (90%) San Francisco area renters believe rental prices are too high. Of those renting, the local average is $1,573 a month in rent, and nearly one in four pay over $2,000 a month in rent – an amount nearly double the national average of $1,051 per month.

Local demand for rentals 

As residential rental prices in San Francisco continue to rise, local renters are feeling the pressure, and many are wishing they were out of the rental game altogether. When asked about the process for finding their home, four in five people (83%) said that it was tough to find a good place to rent. Most renters (74%) would like to own their own home instead of renting in general. The majority of renters blame the growing local tech industry for rising rent prices. More than three quarters (76%) of those surveyed think that the tech industry is to blame for rising rental prices.

Though the tech industry is blamed for rising prices, many San Francisco renters prefer tech solutions for managing their rent payments. Sixty-nine percent of San Francisco renters want to pay their rent online and 41% want to sign their lease online.

Taking action when landlords behave badly

San Francisco area renters tend to be the most litigious in the country. One in five (20%) renters think lawsuits are the best way to solve problems with property managers, and 10% have actually sued or tried to sue (vs. 4% nationally.) Fifty percent of unhappy renters have taken the common route of complaining directly to their landlord, and 14% have contacted city officials.

Despite a tendency to take action when things go wrong, most San Francisco-area renters would be willing to re-think taking action if they had more control over their rent. When surveyed, 26% of renters in San Francisco said they currently live in rent-controlled units. Of those renting without rent control, half of renters (50%) said that they would consider not taking legal action if they had rent control. Forty-eight percent said that they would reconsider taking action if their rent was “fairly priced,” with 52% saying the same if they felt their landlord or property manager was fair in general.

Local renters are generally happy with their landlord – about three in four (73%) said their landlord responds to any issues in a timely fashion. Seventy-one percent of renters generally like their landlord and think they are a good person.

For additional resources about residential or commercial lease agreements, tenant rights, or to find a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant or real estate law in your area, visit

About this study

Avvo conducts periodic studies of topics at the intersection of lifestyle and the law to better understand the issues facing individuals engaging with attorneys and the legal system. Given that nearly every working adult pays rent and/or taxes on property, and that real estate law represents one of the largest and most routine needs for legal help in the United States, understanding the tensions in the current rental/real estate market between is beneficial to the landlords, renters, property owners and real estate industry professionals and attorneys whom Avvo serves.

“Avvo is committed to understanding American social and cultural experiences so that we can better understand the people we seek to help,” said Nika Kabiri, Director of Strategic Insights at Avvo. “Millions of consumers seek legal help on Avvo every day and we want to interact with them in meaningful ways. We conduct several consumer studies every year to learn more about what matters to them.”

Avvo offers consumers legal help on-demand with fixed-fee, limited scope legal services from a local, experienced attorney of their choice, such as an advice session with an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant or real estate law, legal review of an eviction notice, or legal counsel in creating a residential lease agreement. Avvo lawyers additionally answer questions about residential or commercial property, lease agreements, landlord-tenant and real estate law in the company’s Q&A forum for free every day, and are featured in the Avvo directory, which includes consumer reviews and detailed profiles for 97% of licensed attorneys in the United States.


These are findings from a Research Now poll conducted in June 2016. For the survey, a sample of over 1,000 U.S. renters age 18 and over was interviewed online, with boosts to reach 500 respondents in Seattle, 501 in San Francisco, 504 in Boston, and 389 in Austin. The precision of Research Now is measured using a nonprobability sampling. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents.

About Avvo, Inc.

Avvo helps people find and connect with the right lawyer through industry leading content, tools and services. Founded in 2006 in Seattle, Avvo provides transparent information about attorneys, with Avvo-rated profiles for 97% of practicing lawyers in the United States. A free Q&A forum with more than 8 million questions and answers and on-demand legal services that provide professional counsel for a fixed cost, make legal faster and easier. For more information on how Avvo helps people through legal issues from research to resolution, visit