Bay Area Cities Implement New Eviction and Rent Control Measures
The election results were mixed. 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 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 Rent Review Advisory Committee if a rent increase of more than 5 percent is implemented so that it may mediate any landlord-tenant dispute. It also requires that certain notices be provided to tenants, 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 Ordinance 3148.
- Rejected Measure MI, the Charter Amendment to Establish Rent Control, a Rent Control Board, and Regulate Termination of Tenancies
Voters approved Measure AA, amending the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to prohibit owner move-in evictions of families with children during the academic year, 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.
Effective April 30, 2016, the city of Berkeley enacted a Tenant Buyout Ordinance, to provide protections to rent-control protected tenants entering “buyout” agreements.
Voters also passed Measure U1, which increases the business license tax on landlords with five or more residential rental units. The tax may not be passed on to tenants.
East Palo Alto:
Voters passed Measure J, amending the 2010 Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. The revisions include: simplifying administrative 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, and eliminating the annual rent registration and certification requirement for each unit.
Voters also passed Measure O, which will assess a business license tax on landlords with five or more residential rental units. The tax may not be passed on to tenants.
On December 6, 2016, Emeryville adopted the Residential Landlord and Tenants Relations Ordinance. Effective April 1, 2017, the ordinance prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy except for one of the enumerated just cause reasons. The ordinance also requires a “Notice of Tenant Rights” be served on the Emeryville residents. All rental units are covered unless 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 passed an Urgency Ordinance for Just-Cause Evictions. It was “intended to be a stop-gap on no-cause evictions” until Measure V went into effect. This ordinance prohibits evictions except under specified circumstances, and applies to all rental units (even those not rent-controlled) unless listed in the ordinance as exempt.
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 was served with a lawsuit challenging Measure V and the eviction ordinance, and a TRO was filed to halt Measure V. The Plaintiff and the City entered into an agreement which stays the implementation of Measure V but not the eviction ordinance. Thus, landlords do not have to roll back rents to October 2015 unless the stay is lifted but they may only terminate a tenancy for just cause.
Mountain View also has a Right to Lease Ordinance and a Rental Dispute Resolution program.
Effective February 1, 2017, voters approved Oakland’s Measure JJ, the Renters Upgrade Act. The city’s existing Just Cause for Eviction ordinance will now apply to properties built before December 31, 1995. (Previously it applied only to units built before October 14, 1980.) Additional amendments include giving more power to the Rent Board, requiring a landlord to pre-petition for all increases above the annual allowable increase, and increasing the restrictions on “substantial rehabilitation.”
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 controlled units to the rents effective 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 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. Units controlled under the ordinance include all rental units except for those exempted by state law or the ordinance (units certified for occupancy 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.