Puneet Singh, Esq.
Revised April, 2017
California’s home prices and rents are the highest in the country, according to a March 2015 housing report issued by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. In response to the affordable housing crisis, several cities passed ordinances, and rent and eviction control ballot initiatives became a hot topic for residents in several California cities in the 2016 election.
The election resulted in a mixed outcome. Rent and eviction control ordinances passed in Richmond and Mountain View. In Alameda, voters approved a Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance (previously established by the City Council in March 2016), but rejected a rent control ordinance. Emeryville adopted a new ordinance requiring just cause to terminate a tenancy. In Berkeley, Oakland, and East Palo Alto, voters approved measures to strengthen their existing rent control ordinances. Voters in Burlingame and San Mateo voted against rent stabilization proposals.
So what exactly are the new requirements for landlords?
In November 2015, the Alameda City Council adopted a temporary moratorium on rent increases over 8%, and prohibited terminating a tenancy except for “just cause”. In March 2016, the City Council adopted the Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance 3148, to stabilize rents and limit the grounds for terminating tenancies. Pursuant to the ordinance landlords must inform the Alameda Rent Review Advisory Committee if a rent increase of more than 5 percent is implemented so that they may mediate any dispute between the landlord and tenant. It also requires that certain notices be provided to tenants, and imposes limitations on evictions, and requires landlords to pay relocation fees when terminating certain tenancies.
On November 8, 2016, Alameda voters:
- Passed Measure L1, the Rent Stabilization Act, which confirmed Alameda Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance 3148.
- Rejected Measure MI, the Charter Amendment to Establish Rent Control, a Rent Control Board, and Regulate Termination of Tenancies
- Housing Authority of the City of Alameda Rent Review, Rent Stabilization & Limitations on Evictions Information Website
- Alameda Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance 3148
- Alameda Rent Stabilization Act
Voters approved Measure AA to amend the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to prohibit owner move-in evictions of families with children during the academic year, increase the amount of relocation assistance for owner move in evictions, increase relocation assistance amounts for owner move-in evictions, clarify protections for elderly/disabled tenants, require filing of eviction notices, change the source of interest rates for security deposits, and clarify exemptions and penalties, effective December 19, 2016.
Additionally, effective April 30, 2016, the city of Berkeley enacted a Tenant Buyout Ordinance, to provide protections to rent-control protected tenants entering into “buyout” agreements with their landlords.
Voters also passed Measure U1, which will increase a business license tax on landlords with five or more residential rental units. The tax was increased from 1.081% to 2.880% of gross receipts. The business tax may not be passed on to tenants.
- Berkeley Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance
- Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board home page
- Measure AA
- Berkeley Tenant Buyout Ordinance
- Measure U1
East Palo Alto:
Voters passed Measure J, amending the 2010 Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. Some of the revisions include but are not limited to: simplifying administrative processes and procedures, clarifying the maximum allowable rent increase (at 10 percent per year), revising the registration fee pass-through, streamlining annual general adjustment calculations, addressing nuisance based terminations of tenancy, strengthening notice provisions, eliminating the annual rent registration and certification requirement for each unit, and authorizing the City Council to revise the Ordinance when in conflict with federal or state law.
Voters also passed Measure O, which will assess a business license tax on landlords with five or more residential rental units. The tax is 1.5% of gross receipts. The business tax may not be passed on to tenants.
On December 6, 2016, the City of Emeryville adopted the Residential Landlord and Tenants Relations Ordinance. Slated to take effect on April 1, 2017, the ordinance prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy unless it for one of the enumerated just cause reasons. The ordinance also requires a separate “Notice of Tenant Rights” be served on the Emeryville residents. Covered units under the ordinance include all rental units except for those specifically exempted under the ordinance
On November 8, 2016, voters approved the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (“Measure V”). Measure V was intended to implement rent control for most multifamily rental units built before February 1, 1995, prohibit evictions without just cause, create a Rental Housing Committee, and allow landlords to be charged fees to implement Measure V.
On November 15, 2016, the City of Mountain View passed an Urgency Ordinance for Just-Cause Evictions. It was “intended to be a stop-gap on no-cause evictions” until Measure M went into effect. This ordinance prohibits evictions unless it is for one of the enumerated reasons stated in the ordinance, and applies to all rental units (even those not subject to rent control) except for properties exempted by the ordinance.
Measure V, which would require a roll back of rents to October 2015, was due to go into effect on December 23, 2016. On December 21, 2016, the City of Mountain View was served with a lawsuit challenging Measure V and the Just Cause Eviction Urgency Ordinance. As part of the lawsuit, a temporary restraining order was filed to halt the implementation of Measure V. On December 22, 2016, the Plaintiff and the City of Mountain View entered into an agreement which temporarily stayed the implementation of Measure V.
On April 4, 2017, the Court denied the motion for preliminary injunction. As a result, landlords of units subject to Measure V must roll back rents to October 2015 rates and comply with rent increase limitations.
Mountain View landlords should also be familiar with the Just-Cause Evictions Urgency Ordinance, the Right to Lease Ordinance, and the City of Mountain View Rental Dispute Resolution program.
- Measure V – The Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act
- Order After Hearing on Measure V
- City of Mountain View Media Release re Just-Cause Evictions Urgency Ordinance
- Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP’s article: Mountain View – Right to Lease Ordinance
- City of Mountain View Rental Dispute Resolution information
Oakland:Effective February 1, 2017, voters approved the Oakland’s Measure JJ, the Renters Upgrade Act. The city’s existing Just Cause for Eviction ordinance will now apply to about properties built before December 31, 1995. (Previously it applied only to units built before October 14, 1980. About 12,000 additional units are now subject to the Just Cause for Eviction ordinance). Additional amendments include giving more power to the Oakland Rent Board, requiring a landlord to pre-petition for all increases above the annual allowable increase, and increasing the restrictions on “substantial rehabilitation.” Additional Resource
Approved by voters on November 8, 2016, the Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance (Measure L): (1) restores rents of rent controlled units to the rent effective as of July 21, 2015 (for tenancies beginning after that date, the initial rent will apply); (2) establishes a Rent Board that will set a maximum allowable rent increase (based on the Consumer Price Index) for rent controlled units throughout the city; (3) prohibits landlords of any rental unit (even those not subject to rent control) from terminating tenancies except for the reasons specifically listed in the ordinance. Rent controlled units under the ordinance include all rental units except for those exempted by CA law or the ordinance (units with a certificate of occupancy issued after February 1, 1995), single family homes, small second unit condominiums, temporary rentals, and rooms for rent in which the tenant shares a bathroom or kitchen with the homeowner.
Rental property owners should educate themselves about the new laws, and consult with experienced legal counsel as needed.
Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This alert is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our website: www.kts-law.com. For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers and Legal Articles, please consult the resource section of our website.
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