City Of Alameda Rent Control, Limitations on Eviction, and Relocation to Certain Displaced Tenants Ordinance
The City of Alameda’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance has been repealed, and a new ordinance has been enacted. The City of Alameda Rent Control, Limitations on Eviction, Relocation to Certain Displaced Tenants Ordinance was adopted September 3, 2019. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.10. The ordinance may be referred to as the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance. Id.
Alameda’s City Rent Control Ordinance regulates how much a tenant’s rent can be raised annually, protects tenants from eviction unless there is a just-cause reason to do so under the law, provides relocation to tenants, regulates buyout agreements, and prohibits landlord retaliation against tenants.
What units are covered under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
With the exception of two-unit parcels with a single-family home and an approved accessory dwelling unit, all tenants in multi-unit properties in Alameda built before February 1, 1995 have eviction protection, anti-retaliation protection, rent-ceiling protection, rights to relocation benefits, and protection from illegal buyouts. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-15. The following properties are not subject to the rent-ceiling provisions of the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance, but they are protected under all other sections of the ordinance, such as eviction protection, anti-retaliation protection, rights to relocation benefits, and protection from illegal buyouts:
- Single-family homes and condominiums.
- Multi-unit properties built after February 1, 1995.
- A permitted accessory dwelling unit on the same lot as a single-family home.
- Section 8 voucher tenants in units not owned by a government entity or nonprofit. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.20.
The following properties are completely exempt and not covered at all under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance:
- Units where rents are regulated by federal law, the housing authority, or other state or local program, except certain Section 8 units;
- Units owned by the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda;
- Units rented for thirty days or less;
- Units in motels/hotels where the stay is less than thirty days;
- Rooms in a hospital, assisted living, convalescent or extended care facility, or skilled nursing facility;
- Rooms in a facility that provide a menu of services including but not limited to meals, medication, counseling, case management, and transportation;
- Rooms in a convent, monastery, sorority, or fraternity in properties owned or managed by an educational institution;
- Rooms in a building used for drug, alcohol, or substance abuse treatment;
- Rooms in a building used as transitional housing for the formerly homeless;
- Rooms in a building that require intake, case management, counseling, and occupancy agreement;
- Commercial units;
- Mobile homes or mobile home lots;
- Community cabins;
- Owner-occupied units where the landlord shares a kitchen or bath with one or more tenants; and
- Any part of a unit where the tenant has allowed any person to occupy but that person does not meet the definition of tenant under the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.20. For purposes of the ordinance, a tenant is a tenant, subtenant, lessee, sub-lessee, roommate who has agreed to pay rent or has a legal responsibility to pay rent. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15. A property manager that occupies a unit and does not pay full rent is specifically excluded from the definition of a tenant. Id.
Also, tenants should be aware that temporary tenancies are not subject to the just-cause for eviction protections. These tenancies are required to have a term lease (month-to-month not allowed) and once the term lease expires, the landlord is required to re-occupy the unit. Please see below for more information on temporary tenancy requirements.
Does the City of Alameda Rent Control Ordinance rent cap or the State of California Rent Control rent cap apply to my tenancy?
The rent-ceiling protections of the State of California Rent Control apply to all units in the City of Alameda that are not covered by the City Rent Control Ordinance and that otherwise meet the requirements of state rent control. The Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance rent-ceiling protections apply to all multi-unit buildings built before February 1, 1995, even if the owner resides in one of the units. If the second unit is an accessory dwelling, the property is not covered by Alameda’s rent-ceiling.
If your unit is not covered under the City Rent Control Ordinance rent caps, it is covered by the State of California Rent Control rent caps if the building was built more than fifteen years ago, and as long as the unit meets all other requirements under state rent control. If your multi-unit building was built after February 1, 1995, or is a single-family home or condominium, we have made a guide to help determine if your unit is covered by the State of California Rent Control rent caps.
Does the Alameda City Rent Control eviction protections or the State of California Rent Control eviction protections apply to your tenancy?
The just-cause eviction protections in the State of California rent control statute only apply in Alameda to units that are not covered by the City Rent Control Ordinance and that otherwise meet the requirements of state rent control. In general, the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance eviction protections apply to most units in Alameda including all multi-unit buildings, single-family homes, condominiums, and units where tenants receive a Section 8 Voucher if the unit is not owned by a government entity or nonprofit.
Units covered by local rent control, even if the local ordinance has weaker eviction protection, are exempt from the state rent control statute. While most units in Alameda are covered under the City Rent Control Ordinance eviction protections, if you are a tenant that resides in one of the properties that is exempt from the Alameda ordinance, review our guide to determine if your unit is covered by the State of California Rent Control eviction protections.
If I receive a Section 8 Voucher am I protected under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
To help reduce the risk of displacement of vulnerable tenants, the City of Alameda has implemented new protections for Section 8 Voucher recipients. If your unit is not owned by a government entity or a nonprofit organization, you have eviction protection, the right to relocation payments, and anti-retaliation protection. Id.
Are landlords required to tell prospective tenants whether the unit is covered under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. Landlords are required to give prospective tenants a written notice that the unit they are interested in renting is covered by the ordinance, a copy of the ordinance and city regulations, and a copy of a brochure from the city’s Program Administrator that explains the laws. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.25. The prospective tenant can agree in writing to obtain the material through the Program Administrator’s website instead of receiving a hard copy from the landlord. Id. If a prospective tenant rents a unit and the landlord failed to provide the required notice and information to them prior to renting, the tenant may assert the landlord’s failure as an affirmative defense to any action by the landlord to recover possession of the unit. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.135.
Are landlords required to register their rental properties according to the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. Landlords must annually register all rental units with the Program Administrator. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.55. For units subject to the rent-control provision of the ordinance, notice must also be filed when there is a change in tenancy and when there is a change in ownership. Id.
If the prior owner of my building did not disclose to the new owner that the building is subject to the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance, is my unit still covered?
Yes. Owners are required to disclose to a purchaser that the property is subject to the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.30. Failure to make the required disclosure does not excuse the new owner from their obligations under the ordinance. Id.
Can landlords pass Rent Program fees on to their tenants under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Landlords pay an annual program fee for units covered under the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.145. Effective July 1, 2020, they will be able to pass 50% of the fiscal year 2020-21 fee to a tenant in twelve equal installments. Id. This passthrough will not be considered part of a tenant’s rent. Id.
Can my landlord force me to waive my rights under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
The ordinance prohibits landlords from writing into their rental agreements or leases a waiver of a tenant’s rights under the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.125. Any waiver of rights or purported waiver is contrary to public policy and is void. Id.
What documents must a landlord file with the Program Administrator under the Alameda City Rent Ordinance?
There are many types of documents that the landlord must file with the Rent Program. Tenants should be aware of what those documents are because if the landlord fails to serve the tenant proper required notices and fails to file required notices and documents with the Rent Program, the landlord will not be in compliance with law and may be prohibited from raising the tenant’s rent and prohibited from terminating a tenancy. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code §§ 6-58.65 and 6-58.135.
The documents required to be filed by the landlord are the following:
- The termination notice for a no-fault eviction such as owner move-in, demolition, capital improvement, compliance with a governmental order, or Ellis Act eviction.
- The amount of rent for a new tenant after the prior tenant’s tenancy was terminated for no cause.
- The name and relationship of the person moving into where the tenant was terminated due to an owner move-in eviction, and a documentation that the landlord is a “natural person.”
- A notice that the landlord (or their relative) failed to move into the unit within sixty days after the tenant vacated due to an owner move-in notice, or where the landlord failed to reside in the unit for three years.
- A notice stating that the landlord (or their relative) did move into the unit as required, plus supporting documentation.
- All requisite documentation to demolish or withdraw the property from the rental market pursuant to an Ellis Act eviction.
- Written proof of payment of relocation benefits paid to a tenant if the amount is different than the amount provided for by the ordinance.
- A fully executed buyout agreement.
- An annual registration statement for every unit owned.
- For all rental units not exempt from rent control under any state law, a notice within thirty days of close of escrow that states who the purchaser/new landlord of the property is.
- For all rental units not exempt from rent control under any state law, a registration statement within thirty days of each new tenancy.
- A written notice within thirty days of the parties entering into a Temporary Tenancy, plus and a copy of the rental agreement.
- A written notice that the landlord has moved into the unit within sixty days of terminating a Temporary Tenancy agreement, plus supporting documentation.
- Proof of the military assignment that created the Temporary Tenancy.
- The notice of rent increase due to capital improvements.
- The notice of a Relocation Rent Increase within three days of serving the tenant the notice.
- Documents related to a landlord seeking judicial review of a Hearing Officer’s decision.
- Any other documentation or information the Program Administrator reasonably requests. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.35.
What is a Temporary Tenancy under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Landlords may enter into a temporary tenancy with a tenant. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.40. A temporary tenancy is a tenancy that meets the following criteria:
- The unit was the landlord’s primary residence for at least three months before the tenant is offered a temporary tenancy. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15.
- The tenancy must have a fixed term but cannot be more than twelve months. Id.
- The landlord must re-occupy the unit within sixty days after the temporary tenancy ends and resides in it continually for one year. Id.
A temporary tenancy is one that cannot be more than twelve months. However, if the temporary tenancy is created due to a military assignment (for either the tenant or the landlord), the tenancy may not be more than five years. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.40.
There must also be twelve months in between each temporary tenancy, consecutive temporary tenancies are not allowed. Id.
Landlords must file a notice and the written Temporary Tenancy Agreement with the Rent Program, and any other documentation the Program Administrator deems relevant. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.35.
Tenants entering into this type of tenancy should note that it is not included under the permanent relocation benefits section of the ordinance as an eligible termination for payment. After the Temporary Tenancy term rental agreement expires, the tenant will not receive a relocation payment.
ALLOWABLE RENT INCREASES
What units are subject to the rent increase cap under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
All multi-family properties built before February 1, 1995 are subject to the rent-ceiling provision of the ordinance. However, if the second unit is an approved accessory dwelling on the same lot as a single-family home, the property will not be covered under this section.
How often can my landlord raise my rent under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
For all rental units in the City of Alameda, the rent may not be raised more than once in a twelve month period. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.50. For new tenancies, the rent may not be raised until twelve months after the beginning of their tenancy. Id.
How is my base rent determined under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
As of September 1, 2019, landlords cannot charge rent that is more than the base rent plus increases allowed under the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.60. Base rent is the rent amount in effect on September 1, 2019, or for tenancies established after that date, the base rent is the initial rent in effect on the date the tenancy begins. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15.
How much can my landlord increase my rent under the Alameda Rent Control Ordinance?
Effective September 1, 2019, if you live in a unit subject to the rent cap provision of the ordinance, your rent cannot be raised by more than 2.8% of your base rent. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.60. This percent is called the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) amount. Id. The AGA will never exceed 5% or be less than 1% in any given year. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15.
What does Maximum Allowable Rent mean under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
The Maximum Allowable Rent (MAR) is your base rent plus the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) amount. Id. Tenants will receive a letter every year from the Rent Program that states what the MAR is for their unit. If the tenant disputes the calculation, they may petition the Rent Program. Landlords may also file a petition with the Rent Program to raise the rent above the MAR.
Can my rent be raised above the Maximum Allowable Rent for my unit under the City Rent Control Ordinance?
For units covered under rent-ceiling protection, rent may only be increased above the MAR under the following circumstances:
- Banking: If your landlord has not increased your rent for a particular year, they may save it, or “bank” it, to use in a following year. Your landlord does not need to first petition the Rent Program for approval of a banked rent increase, but they do need to file the notice and proof of service with the Program Administrator within three days of serving the tenant a banked rent increase. There are limitations to banking rent increases. Landlords are not allowed to: (a) bank more than 8%, (b) increase a tenants rent by more than the current year allowable amount plus 3% of any banked amount, (c) increase a tenant’s rent by using any banked amount in consecutive years, or (d) increase a tenant’s rent using a banked amount more than three times during any tenancy. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.70.
- Capital Improvements: Your landlord must first petition the Rent Program for approval of a capital improvement rent increase, and must also have a City approved Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.35. Capital improvements are improvements or repairs to the property that materially adds to the value, appreciably prolongs the property’s useful life, or adapts the property to a new use. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15. The rent increase amount will be determined by the Rent Program based on the City’s Capital Improvement Plan Policy formula.
- Fair Rate of Return: A fair rate of return increase requires the landlord to file a petition with the Rent Program for approval. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.75.
What is a Relocation Rent Increase under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
This section of the ordinance is important to tenants that reside in properties that are not subject to the rent caps but are subject to the just-cause for eviction provisions. Without this section, landlords would have the ability to easily bypass the just-cause provision to terminate a tenancy by raising the rent to an amount that the tenant cannot pay, effectively evicting that tenant. The relocation rent increase provision does not eliminate this loophole, but it does require the landlord to pay relocation benefits to the displaced tenants.
A Relocation Rent Increase is a rent increase that is more than 10% in a twelve month period. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15. If a tenant receives a relocation rent increase, the landlord must provide a notice that informs the tenant of their right to a permanent relocation payment if the tenant chooses to vacate within 90 days of receiving the rent increase notice. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85. The notice and proof of service must be filed with the Rent Program within three days of serving a tenant with a relocation rent increase. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.35.
Are landlords allowed to change the amenities included as a part of tenant’s rent when their lease converts to a month-to-month agreement under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
If a tenant’s rent includes charges or fees for amenities such as utilities, parking, storage, or pets, and their lease converts to a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord cannot unbundle (i.e. separate out) the charges or fees from the lease, and they may not increase the charges or fees for the amenities. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.45. There may be an increase in charges or fees for amenities only if the increase is paid directly to the landlord for utilities that are separately metered or for charges for utilities that are pro-rated among the tenants. Id.
If the parties enter into a new agreement or renew their agreement, the amenities may be unbundled from the new or renewed agreement, and the fees or charges may also be increased, but any increased amount will be included in calculating the tenant’s maximum allowable rent (MAR). Id.
When new amenities are requested that were not included in an existing lease, fees or charges for the new amenities shall not be included in calculating the tenant’s maximum allowable rent. Id.
Can I request a rent reduction from the City of Alameda Rent Program?
Yes. Tenants may petition the Rent Program to request a reduction in rent. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.75. Tenants may base their rent reduction petition on (i) a reduction in housing serves, such as parking or use laundry facilities taken away, or (ii) on the belief that their maximum allowable rent amount was miscalculated. Id.
What properties are covered under the just-cause for eviction protections under the Alameda Rent Control Ordinance?
All multi-unit buildings, single-family homes, condominiums, and are subject to eviction control under the ordinance. Section 8 voucher tenants have eviction protection, but only if the landlord is not the government or a nonprofit.
What are the just-cause reasons to evict a tenant under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
A landlord can only evict a tenant for the following just-cause reasons:
- Tenant has failed to pay rent;
- Tenant has caused a substantial and material breach of the lease;
- Tenant is committing a nuisance;
- Tenant continually denies the landlord access to the unit;
- Landlord (or their relative) seeks to do move into the unit (Owner move-in eviction);
- Landlord seeks to demolish the rental unit and has obtained all necessary and required permits;
- Landlord seeks to make capital improvements and has obtained all necessary and required plan approvals;
- Landlord seeks to permanently remove the property from the rental market (Ellis Act eviction); and
- Landlord must comply with a government order that necessitates the removal of the tenants. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.80.
Can I be evicted for subletting under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
If a landlord discovers you are subletting in violation of your lease, they may not immediately seek to evict you. Id. Your landlord must first provide you with a written notice to cure (i.e. fix) the violation within fourteen calendar days. Id. During this fourteen days, you may make a written request to your landlord to add the sub-letter to your unit. Id.
Tenants should note that the ordinance does not require the landlord to accept the sub-letter, it merely allows the tenant an opportunity to make a request and the landlord an opportunity to agree. If the landlord denies the request, the tenant must remove the sub-letter.
Can I be evicted under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance for moving my family member or spouse into my unit?
Tenants cannot be evicted for moving in any of the following people into their unit as long as it does not exceed the maximum occupants allowed by under Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17922:
- Spouse or registered domestic partner;
- Parent, grandparent, child or grandchild, regardless of whether that person is related by blood, birth, adoption, marriage, or registered domestic partnership;
- Foster child or grandchild;
- Any other person that federal or state fair housing laws may in the future protect; or
- A person necessary to reasonably accommodate the needs of the tenant or any of the tenant’s family members that reside in the unit. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.80.
What are the requirements for an owner-move-in eviction under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
A landlord can evict a tenant in order to move into the unit or to move in a spouse or domestic partner, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or in-laws. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.80. The following criteria must be met in order for the landlord to seek an owner move-in eviction:
- The owner must act in good faith.
- The owner must be a natural person, not a corporation or LLC.
- The owner must have at least a 50% ownership interest in the property.
- The property cannot have a comparable vacant unit available at the time the notice of termination of tenancy is served.
- The owner or relative must occupy the unit within 60 days.
- The owner or relative must live in the unit as a primary residence for three years.
- The owner must provide the Rent Program with documentation that the owner or relative has moved in and is occupying the unit as their primary residence.
- The owner must pay the evicted tenants permanent relocation benefits. Id.
Under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance, what happens if a tenant is evicted for an owner or relative move-in and the landlord fails to live in the unit for the required three years?
If the owner or relative vacates before the three year requirement, the unit must be offered back to the tenant at the same rent in effect at the time they were served the termination notice, the landlord must pay reasonable moving costs, and the landlord must inform the Rent Program in writing. Id. If the displaced tenant does not accept the landlord’s offer to return to the unit, the landlord cannot put the unit back on the market for any rent amount they want—the landlord may only charge a new tenant the same lawful rent charged to the displaced tenant at the time the landlord served the notice to terminate the tenancy. Id.
What are the requirements for an Ellis Act eviction under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
A landlord may evict tenants to permanently remove the entire building from the rental market. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.80. Under the City of Alameda’s Ellis Act Policy Resolution No. 15517, the following criteria must be met:
- Owners must act in good faith.
- Tenants are entitled to at least a 120 days’ notice.
- Tenants that are 62 years old and older or disabled that have lived in the unit for at least a year are entitled to a one-year notice, as long as the tenant notifies the owner within 60 days of being served that they are entitled to the extension.
- The property may not be returned to the rental market for five years.
- Tenants must be offered their unit back if the property is put back on the rental market before the five-year mark, provided that the tenant notified the landlord in writing within 30 days of their displacement that they would like to receive an offer to re-occupy. The tenant must also provide their new address to the landlord. The landlord must offer the unit back at the same rent paid at the time of displacement, plus they may add up to a 5% increase.
- The owner must pay the evicted tenants permanent relocation benefits.
What are the requirements for capital improvement evictions under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Capital improvements are improvements or repairs to the property that materially add to the value, appreciably prolong the property’s useful life, or adapt the property to a new use. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15. Before the landlord can serve the tenant with a termination notice, the landlord must first submit their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the Rent Program. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.110. Once the Rent Program approves the plan, the landlord may serve tenants a termination notice, which must be accompanied by the approved CIP. Id. Tenants that must vacate are entitled to relocation benefits. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85. For more information on a tenant’s right to relocation assistance and right to re-occupy a unit, please read below.
What are the requirements for an eviction due to a governmental order under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance ?
Due to uninhabitable and unsafe conditions at a property, the landlord can be required by a government agency’s order to temporarily evict tenants in order to make necessary repairs to bring the property into compliance with city or state codes. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.80. The landlord must file the termination notice with the Rent Program. Displaced tenants are entitled to temporary relocation assistance. Id. Once the property is ready to be re-occupy, the tenant must be offered their unit back at the same rent that was in effect at the time they vacated. Id.
PERMANENT RELOCATION PAYMENTS
Am I entitled to receive a relocation benefit payment under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Tenants who are permanently displaced under the following circumstances are entitled to permanent relocation payments:
- Tenants that are evicted for an owner move-in, demolition, capital improvement, or Ellis Act, regardless of how long the tenant has lived in the unit;
- Tenants that are served a rent increase that is a relocation rent increase and the tenant vacates the unit within ninety days; and
- Tenants that are recipients of a Section 8 voucher and must vacate because the unit has failed to pass Housing Quality Standards as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85.
Tenants that are displaced temporarily due to a government order to vacate, capital improvement, or due to health and safety conditions are entitled to temporary relocation payments or an offer of a comparable rental unit. Id.
Will I receive temporary or permanent relocation benefits if I am required to vacate due to capital improvements under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
When a capital improvement plan is approved, a corresponding rent increase will also be determined and approved by the Program Administrator. Alameda, Cal. Res. No. 15138. If a tenant must vacate, and has informed the landlord that they are willing to pay the increased rent amount when improvements are complete, and there is a comparable and available unit in the same building or complex, the landlord must (a) relocate the tenant to the comparable unit, (b) offer the vacated unit back to the tenant at the same rental rate plus the approved increase when construction is complete, and (c) pay the tenant reasonable moving costs to and from the unit. The displaced tenant will still be required during this time to continue to pay the rent amount they were paying at the time they vacated.
When a tenant must vacate and there is not a comparable and available unit to offer the tenant, and the tenant has notified the landlord that they are willing to pay the increased rent amount when construction is complete, the Program Administrator will decide, based on the length of time it will take to complete the improvements, whether the landlord must pay the tenant temporary relocation assistance or whether the landlord may terminate the tenancy and pay the tenant permanent relocation benefits.
What are the permanent relocation amounts under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
The City Council determines the amount of relocation benefits. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.95. Relocation benefits are based on how many rooms the unit contains, not on how many tenants live in the unit. The relocation amount for a studio is $5,782, a 1-bedroom is $6,494, a 2-bedroom is $7,502, a 3-bedroom is $9,420, and 4-bedroom or more is $11,0008. For households that have a tenant that is 62 years or older, a minor child, or is disabled under Cal. Gov’t. Code § 12955.3, the payment for a studio is $7,472, a 1-bedroom is $8,542, a 2-bedroom is $10,024, a 3-bedroom is $12,930, and 4-bedrooms or more is $15,313.
Are there any situations that the landlord would not have to pay me the relocation benefits under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Landlords are not required to pay tenants relocation benefits when the tenant is displaced through circumstances out of the landlords control such as a fire, flood, earthquake or other natural disaster. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85. Also, if the tenant or their guest caused or materially contributed to the condition that forced the tenant to vacate, the tenant is not entitled to a relocation payment. Id.
Can my landlord and I agree to a different relocation payment than what is set by the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. After a tenant is served with a termination of tenancy notice that complies with the ordinance and is notified in writing what the amount of the relocation payment the tenant is entitled to, the parties may agree to a different amount as long as the landlord submits to the Rent Program proof of the new agreed upon amount within twenty-one days of the tenant vacating. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.95.
When are the permanent relocation assistance payments due under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
One-half of the permanent relocation payment is due within three business days after the tenant informs the landlord in writing that they will vacate the unit by the noticed vacate date. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.100. The other half of the payment is due within three business days after the tenant has removed all of their belongings from the unit and has vacated. Id.
TEMPORARY RELOCATION ASSISTANCE
When am I entitled to temporary relocation assistance under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Tenants that are forced to vacate due to a governmental order or due to health or safety conditions as determined by a government agency or court, are entitled to temporary relocation assistance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85.
Health or safety conditions mean conditions that have an adverse effect on the health or safety of the tenant and that have rendered the unit uninhabitable, or for tenants receiving Section 8 Voucher, the conditions in the unit failed to pass Housing Quality Standards as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15.
How much are the temporary relocation payments under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Tenants that are required to vacate their unit for sixty days or less are entitled to a per diem payment. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.95. Tenants will receive a reasonable per day amount, paid on a weekly basis, for a hotel or short-term rental, meals, laundry, pet accommodations, and costs for moving and storage. Id. Tenants must continue to pay rent during this time. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85.
If the tenant must vacate for longer than sixty days, their landlord must pay rent-differential payments to the tenant until they are able to reoccupy the unit or until the tenant finds alternative permanent housing. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85. If the tenant is receiving rent-differential payments, they are no longer required to pay rent for the unit they vacated. Id. A rent-differential payment is the difference between the rent the tenant was paying at the time they were displaced and the fair market rent for a comparable unit. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15. Once the tenant re-occupies the unit, they will resume paying rent at the rate that was in effect at the time they vacated. Id. If the tenant does not re-occupy the unit and instead finds alternative permanent housing, the landlord shall pay the tenant a permanent location payment. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.85.
Can my landlord offer me a comparable unit instead of paying me temporary relocation payments under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. A comparable unit may be offered to you in lieu of paying you a temporary relocation or rent differential payments. Id. If you move into the comparable unit, you cannot be charged more than what your rent was at the unit that you were displaced from. Id. Your landlord will also be responsible for paying your moving expenses to and from the comparable unit, and they will be required to pay the temporary relocation and/or rent differential payments, whichever is applicable, until you actually move into the comparable unit. Id.
Tenants that live in a comparable unit for at least one hundred and twenty days may vacate the unit for good cause (“good cause” is not defined by the ordinance) and receive rent differential payments from the landlord unil they re-occupy the unit they were originally displaced from. Id. Or, if the tenant finds permanent alternative housing, the landlord must pay the tenant a permanent relocation benefit. Id.
If you do not accept the offer to move to a comparable unit, you must notify your landlord in writing. Id. Your landlord may file an appeal with the Program Administrator within ten days of your written rejection. Id. If the hearing officer determines that the unit is comparable but you are rejecting it regardless, your landlord will not have any obligation to make temporary relocation or rent differential payments to you, and you will not have any obligation to pay further rent until you re-occupy the unit you were displaced from. Id.
What must the notice to temporarily vacate include under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
The notice to temporarily relocate must include a notice of entitlement and include a temporary relocation form, rent-differential payment form, and permanent relocation payment form. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.90. The notice must also contain a statement that the landlord has complied with the ordinance, and a written statement of the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords under the ordinance. Id. Within three days of the tenant vacating, the landlord must provide the tenant with the completed forms. Id. The notice and proof of service must be filed with the Program Administrator within three days of serving the tenant. Id.
The notice of entitlement must also include a summary of the repairs and the estimated time for completion, and inform the tenant that they have the first right of refusal to re-occupy the unit. Id. If the estimated time for completion changes, the landlord must give the tenant at least a seven calendar days’ advance notice of the change. Id.
What is a buyout agreement under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
A buyout agreement is a written agreement that the landlord and tenant voluntarily enter into where the tenant agrees to permanently vacate the unit in exchange for a monetary payment. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.15.
Are there any requirements that the buyout agreement must adhere to under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Before entering into a buyout agreement the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of their right to not enter into an agreement, to consult with an attorney, to consult with the Rent Program, and to rescind any agreement entered into within thirty days of signing. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.115. The executed buyout must be filed with the Rent Program within three calendar days of signing. Id.
To rescind a buyout agreement, the tenant must hand deliver, email, or place in the U.S. mail a statement to the landlord that the tenant has rescinded the agreement. Id. A buyout agreement that does not comply with the requirements of this section will not be valid, and the tenant may rescind at any time. Id.
Is my landlord prohibited from retaliating against me under the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. A landlord that attempts to terminate a tenancy, reduce housing services, or increase rent with the intent to retaliate against a tenant for exercising their rights under the ordinance or any other federal or state law, initiating or participating in rent control procedures, refusal or rescission of a buyout agreement, or participating in litigation under the ordinance is strictly prohibited. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.120.
An eviction within 180 days of a tenant asserting their rights will create a rebuttable presumption that the landlord acted in retaliation against the tenant and may subject the landlord to punitive damages. Id. A tenant may also assert a claim for retaliation or use it as a defense without the presumption and regardless of the timeframe. Id.
Retaliation may be asserted as a defense to the landlord’s attempt to terminate the tenancy, and retaliation may be the basis for a lawsuit by the tenant for actual and punitive damages, or may be a basis for an injunction. Id.
Can I sue my landlord for wrongful eviction if they violate the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Yes. A landlord’s failure to comply with the ordinance may be asserted as an affirmative defense by the tenant in an action by the landlord to recover possession of the unit. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.135. And, tenants may seek monetary damages and injunctive relief in a civil action for a wrongful eviction for any attempt by the landlord to recover possession of a unit in violation of the ordinance. Id. A landlord will be liable for actual and punitive damages, including emotional distress damages. Id. The prevailing party in an action for wrongful eviction shall recover costs and reasonable attorney fees. Id.
What are the additional penalties and remedies for a landlord that violates the Alameda City Rent Control Ordinance?
Landlords and their agents may be subject to administrative citations and fines by the City for violating the ordinance. Alameda, Cal. Mun. Code § 6-58.140. Fines for violations shall be $250 for the first offense, $500 dollars for a second offense within a one year period, and $1,000 for a third offense within a one year period. Id.
Additionally, a landlord may also be guilty of an infraction, punishable by a fine not to exceed $250, or a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 per violation, or by imprisonment in the County jail for a period not more than six months, or by both a fine and imprisonment. Id.
Further, any aggrieved person, including the City and the People of the State of California, may enforce and seek to enjoin the violation of this ordinance by means of a civil action. Id. In an action brought by the People of the State of California or the City to enforce this ordinance, the court shall assess a civil penalty in an amount up to the greater of $2,500 per violation per day or $10,000 per violation—50% payable to the City and 50% percent to the person or persons whose rights were violated. Id. Any person in violation of the ordinance shall be liable for an additional civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each offense committed against a person who is 62 years old or older, or has a disability, or is in a household with at least one minor child. Id.
Also, a landlord that has terminated a tenancy on grounds not allowed under this ordinance cannot impose a rent for a new tenancy that exceeds the maximum allowable rent or certified rent at the time the prior tenancy was terminated. Id. Any rental unit business conducted or maintained contrary to the ordinance shall constitute a public nuisance. Id.
The ordinance allows tenants to seek any and all other remedies, penalties, or procedures provided by law. Id.
If you are a tenant that lives in the City of Alameda and have questions about your rights under the City of Alameda Rent Control, Limitations on Eviction, Relocation to Certain Displaced Tenants Ordinance, or have questions about the new State of California Rent Control law please call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak to an attorney.