City of Mountain View – Right to Lease Ordinance

Christine Relph, Esq. and Jamie Sternberg, Esq.

 

January, 2016

 

On December 8, 2015, the City of Mountain View adopted a Right to Lease ordinance (Ordinance No. 10.15). The stated purpose is to offer stability and minimize displacement of tenants.

Summary of Law

 Notice of Ordinance

  • Landlords are required to provide all tenants with a written notice summarizing their rights under the ordinance.
  • Landlords are required to give written notice of the ordinance to applicants with the lease application.
  • The notice must be in writing and may be provided electronically if the application and/or lease are processed electronically.
  • A copy of the required text in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian is available at http://mountainview.gov/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=18262. The text must be in at least 14 point font.

 Requires a Written Offer of Available 6 Month Lease Term and One Year Lease Term

  • For new tenants after January 7, 2016, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written offer for (1) a six month lease term and (2) a one year lease term.
  • The tenant has the option of choosing a written lease and its minimum term (six months or one year).
  • The landlord and the tenant can agree to a mutually acceptable term that is different from the six month and one year term options.
  • Rental rates for tenants under a written term lease must be identified and may not exceed the month to month rental rate.

Acceptance or Rejection of Written Offer MUST be in writing

  • The signing of a lease which has minimum terms of six months or one year is considered a written acceptance of the offer.
  • Rejection of the offer for six month and one year terms must also be in writing. Parties may then enter into a mutually acceptable agreement, oral or written, for a term of less than one year.

Renewal of Lease

When the lease term ends, the landlord and the tenant will decide whether or not to renew the lease. A landlord is not required to continue the tenancy, but if the tenancy will continue (i.e. neither landlord nor tenant give notice of termination of tenancy), the process above must again be followed.

Leases with a term of one year must be offered annually.

  • Leases with a term of six months must be offered semiannually.
  • Leases with a term longer than one year must be renewable at expiration of each lease period for a minimum of one year.
  • Landlord must offer annually a written lease with minimum terms of six months and one year to a tenant who rejected an initial offer of a lease with a term of at least one year but who has rented from landlord for at least one year.
  • To the extent not precluded by 1950.5 and 1950.6, the Landlord must not require a tenant renewing a lease to provide an additional security deposit or pay an application screening fee.

 Affected Rental Units

 The ordinance applies to landlords who rent three or more dwelling units housed in a single structure.

The term “rental unit” does not include:

  • A single-family dwelling;
  • Rooms or accommodations in hotels or boardinghouses rented for transient occupancies of less than 30 days;
  • Dwelling units in condominiums, community apartments or planned unit developments;
  • Dwelling units in which housing accommodations are shared by landlord and tenant;
  • Housing in any hospital, skilled nursing, health or care facility, extended-care facility, asylum, nonprofit home for the aged, or in dormitories owned and operated by an educational institution;
  • Housing accommodations rented by a medical institution which are then subleased to a patient or a patient’s family;
  • Dwelling units with rents controlled or regulated by any government unit, agency or authority, or whose rent is subsidized by any governmental unit, agency or authority; or
  • Dwelling units acquired by the City of Mountain View or any other governmental unit, agency or authority and intended to be used for a public purpose.

 This section will not apply to an Owner occupied unit rented to a tenant for less than one year, a rental unit occupied by a tenant who subleases to another tenant for less than one year, or a rental unit where tenancy is an express condition of, or consideration for, employment under a written rental agreement or contract or a unit leased to a corporation.

Compliance Dates

 There are two important implementation dates:

  • January 7, 2016: For any new tenant, or any lease renewal after this date, the landlord must offer the tenant, in writing, a six month lease term and a twelve month lease term.
  • By March 1, 2016: For month to month tenants, the landlord must offer the tenant, in writing, a six month lease term and a twelve month lease term.

Consequences for Failure to Comply

A violation of the ordinance may provide the tenant with a defense in a legal action brought by the landlord as well as other remedies. In addition, a violation of the ordinance is an infraction, punishable by a fine of $100.00 for the first violation, $200.00 for a second violation within one year and $500 for each additional violation within one year.

Waiver

 A waiver of a tenant’s rights under the ordinance, if waived before the time the tenant could exercise those rights, is void as against public policy.

For More Information – the following additional information is available:

Additional Resources Available from Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP to Assist with Compliance with the Ordinance:

  • Mountain View – Notice of Right to Lease Ordinance and of Available Term Leases. This form is available for purchase from Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP for $250.00.

If you are interested in purchasing or have any questions, please contact Christine Relph in our Business Real Estate Group at christine.relph@kts-law.com or (619) 231-1422.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article 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 Library section of our website.

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