Effective July 1, 2004, certain tenants living in any of the unincorporated communities of Alameda County must be given information relating to available mediation services in some rent increase notices.
Which units are covered?
The Mandatory Notification of Rent Mediation Services Ordinance statute covers parcels with three or more units in any unincorporated area of Alameda County, including but not limited to the unincorporated communities of Ashland, Castro Valley , Cherryland, Fairview, San Lorenzo, and Sunol . Alameda County, Ordinance Code § 3.68.020(n). Mobile homes are also covered, but only covered where the tenant is renting the mobile home unit itself, not the space under the home. Id.
Which rent increases are subject to mediation?
Covered tenants are eligible to mediate any rent increase or notice of a rent increase where the proposed rent increase is (1) 10% or more, (2) more than $75 per month, or (3) is the second rent increase in a twelve-month period. Alameda County Ordinance Code § 3.68.060.
What are the requirements for rent increases?
The Ordinance requires landlords to provide tenants with information on available mediation services in any rent increase notice. The following exact language must be provided in the rent increase notice:
NOTICE: Under Civil Code Section 827(b) a landlord must provide a tenant with thirty (30) days’ notice prior to a rent increase of ten percent (10%) or less and sixty (60) days’ notice of a rent increase of greater than ten percent (10%). Under Chapter 3.68 of Title 3 of the Ordinance Code of The County of Alameda, a landlord of any rental unit on a property with three or more housing units must at the same time provide this notice of the County’s Rent Review and Mediation Program before demanding or accepting any increase in rent.
You are encouraged to contact the owner or manager of your rental unit to discuss a rent increase as soon as possible. However, you may also request services under the Alameda County Rent Review and Mediation Program. Rent review services are available for any rent increase. You may also be eligible for voluntary rent mediation services if you have received notice of a rent increase that 1) will increase your rent more than ten percent (10%) above the rent you paid last month, 2) is greater than $75 per month, or 3) follows one or more prior rent increases within the past twelve months.
Request for rent review or mediation services may be made in writing or by telephone. If you request mediation of the rent increase, you and your landlord may be requested to meet with a Rent Review Officer for a hearing on your rent dispute. After hearing from you and your landlord, the Rent Review Officer may make a non-binding recommendation for resolution of the rent dispute.
To request review or mediation of your rent increase, please contact the Rent Review Program, 224 W. Winton Ave. Room 108, Hayward, CA 94544 or by calling (510) 670-6682 and requesting rent review or mediation services.
Under Civil Code Section 1942.5, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for lawfully and peaceably exercising his or her legal rights.
Alameda County Ordinance Code § 3.68.050.
What if the landlord does not comply?
A landlord’s failure to provide the required notice of available mediation services renders the proposed rent increase invalid and unenforceable against a tenant. A rent increase, or notice of a rent increase, which does not comply with the Ordinance, “shall be void and no Landlord may take any action to enforce such an invalid Rent Increase.” Alameda County Ordinance Code § 3.68.110. Moreover, failure to provide the required notice of available mediation services “shall operate as a complete defense to an unlawful detainer action based on failure to pay any illegal Rent Increase.” Id.