Tobener Ravenscroft

City of Alameda Rent Control

CITY OF ALAMEDA RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE:  RENT STABILIZATION AND LIMITATIONS ON EVICTIONS ORDINANCE 

Joseph Tobener (March 2016)

What units are covered by eviction protection?

All units in Alameda are covered by eviction protection, including single family homes and condominiums, and new construction.  Eviction protection is not extended to units where rents are regulated by federal law, the housing authority, or other state or local program.  Nor is it extended to mobile homes, commercial units, and motels/hotels where the stay is less than 30 days.

What are the just causes to evict?

  • No Cause Where Rent Increase on New Tenant Will Be 5% or Less: A landlord can evict a tenant for no cause as long as the landlord only increases the rent on a new tenant by 5% or less.  The landlord must provide the new tenant with a notice that states the prior tenant’s rent.  To be valid, a copy of the notice must be sent to the Program Administrator.  There are limitations to this no cause eviction for larger buildings.  For buildings with five or more units, a landlord can only evict 10% of the units in the building without cause in any month, and 25% of rental units in any year.
  • Failure to Pay Rent: A landlord can evict where a tenant has failed to pay rent after being provided with an opportunity to cure.
  • Breach of Lease: A landlord can evict for breach of lease, provided the tenant is given an opportunity to cure and fails to do so.  For tenant conduct that is physically threatening or violent, the landlord need not provide an opportunity to cure.  A landlord cannot evict for subletting without giving a tenant 14 days to cure the breach.  During this 14 days, the tenant can request the addition of an occupant, and the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent.  A landlord cannot evict for the addition of a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, spouse, or domestic partner.
  • Nuisance: A landlord can evict for nuisance, but must first give the tenant the opportunity to cure the nuisance.  If the tenant is engaged in illegal activity, has caused substantial damage, or I an immediate threat to health and safety, the landlord need not provide an opportunity to cure.
  • Failure to Provide Access: A landlord can evict where a tenant has continued to refuse to provide permitted access to the unit after receiving a written notice to cease.
  • Owner Move-In Eviction: A landlord can evict a tenant to move into the unit or to move in a spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, sibling, or in-law.  The owner or relative must occupy the unit within 60 days and must live in the unit as a primary residence for one year.  If the owner or relative vacates, the unit must be offered back to the tenant at the same rent, and the landlord must pay reasonable moving costs.  Only a natural person can perform an owner- or relative-move-in eviction.
  • Demolition: A landlord may demolish a rental unit, as long as the landlord first obtains permits.
  • Capital Improvements: A landlord can remove tenants permanently to carry out capital improvements, as long as the improvements are approved by the City, would render the unit uninhabitable, and would cost more than eight times the monthly rent.  The tenant has no right to return.
  • Ellis Act Eviction: A landlord may remove the entire unit from the rental housing stock for ten years, as long as the landlord complies with state law.
  • Compliance with a Government Order: Where a landlord is forced to remove a tenant because of a government order, such as a Notice of Violation, the tenant has the right to return to the unit at the same rent.  The landlord must reimburse the tenant for moving expenses.

Is a landlord required to pay relocation fees?

A landlord is required to pay a household relocation expenses for evictions based on demolition, capital improvements, Ellis Act, and compliance with a governmental order.  Relocation expenses must also be paid for a no-fault eviction where the landlord caps the new tenant’s rent at 5%.

A household is entitled to equivalent of one month’s rent times the number of years the tenants have been in occupancy capped at four years.  In addition, a household is entitled to $1,500 (adjusted for inflation).

One half of the relocation is due on the day that the tenant gives notice of the date the tenant intends to vacate.  The other half is due once the landlord confirms that the unit is vacant.

Tenants on the lease and tenants who pay a share of the rent are entitled to share the relocation, to be allocated based on percent of rent paid.

How long do I have to vacate for an owner-move-in eviction, relative-move-in-eviction, Ellis Act eviction, or no-fault eviction where the landlord caps the new tenant’s rent at 5%?

In general, the length of the notice for no-fault evictions will be 30 days for a tenancy of less than a year and 60 days for a tenancy of more than a year.  However, for longer-term tenants, a landlord must offer an additional 30 days for every year the unit has been continuously occupied beyond four years, capped at 120 days.  For example, a tenant who has lived in a unit for eight years would be entitled to a 180- day notice.

For each 30-day extension, the landlord is allowed to decrease the relocation fees by one month’s rent.  See section on relocation fees.

What are the damages for wrongful eviction?

A tenant who has been wrongfully evicted under the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance may file suit in civil court against a landlord for actual damages, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees and costs.  The tenant may also seek statutory penalties of $10,000 per violation, but these penalties are payable to the City of Alameda.

An agent of the landlord is only liable for wrongful eviction under the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance where the agent has “full authority to answer for the landlord and enter into binding agreements on the landlord’s behalf.”

Can I waive my rights under the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance?  

The City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance specifically provides that a waiver of rights is void.

Must a landlord offer me a one-year lease?

Provided you are not in default as to a material term of the lease, a landlord must offer you a one-year lease when the landlord first attempts any rent increase after the enactment of the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance.  The one-year lease must have the substantially similar provisions as the original lease.  The one-year lease does not have to be offered if the landlord serves a notice to vacate.

Can a landlord increase my rent more than once a year?

Under the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance, a landlord can only increase the rent once a year.

Can I challenge a rent increase under City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance?

When a rent increase is 5% or less, a tenant may file a petition challenging the rent increase within fifteen days of the rent increase.  The decision of the committee will be nonbinding.  You must pay the rent increase when it goes into effect regardless of status of the pending hearing.

When a rent increase is more than 5%, a landlord must file a petition for rent review within fifteen days of serving a rent increase notice.  A committee will decide whether the increase will be allowed or not, taking into account factors, such as the landlord’s right to fair return.  The increase will not take effect until the ruling on the petition for rent increase.  The ruling will not be binding if your unit is a single family home, a condominium, or was built after February 1, 1995.  The decision will be binding as to all other units.  But, the landlord or tenant may appeal the decision to a hearing officer.  The request for appeal must be made within seven days.

For more information on Rent Control in Alameda, please contact us at 415-504-2165 or please visit the Alameda City Rent Review Advisory Committee website.

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