The City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance

The City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance

The City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance protects tenants from unreasonable rent increases and unjustified terminations, but since its enaction several years ago, most properties originally covered under the ordinance have been permanently removed from protection over time.  A rent-controlled unit may be permanently removed from protection under the ordinance if a tenant voluntarily vacates or if a tenant is evicted for certain reasons.  Today, only a few properties remain subject to the ordinance. 

The majority of the information below regarding rent increases does not apply to your tenancy unless you have lived in the same unit since before 1979 and your rent was less than $450 at that time or the rent was less than $450 in 1979 and since then no tenants have voluntarily left of been evicted for one of the permissible just cause reasons.  While most tenants do not have protections under the Palm Springs ordinance, many of the city’s renters may have protections under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the state’s rent and eviction control law.  Palm Springs tenants should read below and contact a tenant attorney to determine whether local or state law applies to their tenancy.

What units are protected under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

The ordinance applies to multi-unit buildings that rented for less than $450 per month as of September 1, 1979.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.010.  The ordinance does not apply to the following units:

  • Units that the tenant moved into at any time after September 1, 1979 where any prior tenant left voluntarily or was evicted for one of the permissible just cause reasons.
  • Units rented for $450 per month or more as of September 1, 1979.
  • Units built on or after April 1, 1979.
  • Commercial properties.
  • Owner-occupied buildings that contain four or less units.
  • Spaces in recreational vehicle parks.
  • Units in nonprofit cooperatives, unless rented or leased to a tenant.
  • Units in any hospital, medical care facility, asylum, or nonprofit home for the elderly.
  • Units owned, managed, or operated by any government agency.
  • Units whose rent is subsidized by any governmental agency, if federal or state law specifically exempts such units from rent regulation.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.030.    

Tenants who do not live in a rental unit covered by the city’s ordinance may have protections under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which is the state’s rent control and eviction control law. 

Does my tenancy fall under the State of California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 or the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance for purposes of rent-ceiling protections?

Because most properties no longer have rent-ceiling protections under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance, the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“California Rent Control”) likely applies to you if your tenancy meets the requirements of state rent control.  In general, your tenancy may fall under state rent control if you live in a multi-unit building that is at least fifteen years old and you have resided in the unit for at least one year. 

To determine whether you have rent-ceiling protections under California Rent Control, please read our guide.  Tenants should also speak to a tenant attorney to understand which law applies to their tenancy.

Are mobile homes covered under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

Yes, mobile homes are covered under the ordinance but the application of rent control to these types of units is different.  Tenants residing in a mobile home should contact a tenant attorney to understand what protections they have under the ordinance.

Are property owners required to register their residential rental units under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

Properties subject to the ordinance must register with the City of Palm Springs.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.110.  A landlord that fails to register their property is prohibited from increasing a tenant’s rent.  Id.  But, again, most units are no longer covered by the City’s rent ordinance and are instead covered by the State of California’s Rent Tenant Protection Act.  If that’s the case, the unit is not required to be registered with the City.

Can tenants waive their rights under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

No.  Any provision in a lease or rental agreement that waives a tenants rights under the ordinance is against public policy and void.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.160. 


ALLOWABLE RENT INCREASES UNDER THE CITY OF PALM SPRINGS RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

How much can a tenant’s rent be increased under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

For units covered by the ordinance, the landlord may increase the rent only once every twelve months.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.040.  The amount of the rent increase may not be more than the amount set annually by the Rent Review Commission (“Commission”).  Id.  This amount cannot exceed three-fourths of the increase in the cost of living as indicated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Id.  Tenants can find out what the current annual allowable rent increase percentage is by contacting the City of Palm Springs.

Can a landlord petition the Rent Review Commission for a rent increase beyond the allowable amount under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

A landlord can petition the Commission for a fair return on their investment by claiming a hardship.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.060.  Landlords may only file one petition in a twelve month period for a property, and the petition may only be filed in September, October, November, December, or January.  Id.  

Are landlords allowed to “bank” rent increases under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

No.  The City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance does not provide landlords with the ability to “bank” rent increases not taken annually and impose them at a later date.

Under what circumstances can a tenant petition the Commission for a rent reduction under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

Tenants may petition the Commission when there is a reduction in services without a corresponding rent reduction from their landlord.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.100.  The Commission will determine how much of a reduction the tenant is entitled to.  Id.  An example of a reduction in services is transferring utility costs from the landlord to the tenant.  Id.  Other examples may include the removal of a tenant’s parking, laundry, or yard access.

How much notice are tenants entitled to for a rent increase under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

A tenant that resides in a unit that is protected under the ordinance is entitled to at least a sixty days’ advanced written notice of a rent increase.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.110(a).


EVICTION PROTECTIONS UNDER THE CITY OF PALM SPRINGS RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

Does the City of Palm Springs have a just-cause for eviction ordinance?

No.  The City of Palm Springs does not require a just-cause to terminate a tenancy that is month-to-month.  However, the ordinance discourages a landlord from terminating a tenant without a reason.  If a tenant is terminated without a reason, an owner will not be able to permanently remove their unit from rent control for subsequent tenants.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.060. 

How can a property be permanently removed from rent control under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

While the City of Palm Springs does not require landlords to give a just-cause to terminate a tenancy, a property can only be removed from rent control if the previous tenant moved out voluntarily or the tenant was evicted for one of the reasons listed in the ordinance.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.060.  If a tenant is evicted for one of the following reasons, the unit will no longer be subject to the ordinance:

  • Tenant failed to pay rent.
  • Tenant breached lease or rental agreement. 
  • Tenant committed or permitted a nuisance.
  • Tenant used the property for illegal purposes.
  • Landlord seeks in good faith to move into the unit or move their children, parents, siblings, grandparents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law into the unit.  Id.

If the tenancy is terminated for any other reason or no reason at all, the unit will remain subject to the ordinance for subsequent tenancies.  Id.   

Mobile home tenants should note that their tenancy is exempt from this provision in the law.  Id.  Mobile home tenants should contact a tenant lawyer to understand their rights under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance.

Am I entitled to relocation assistance under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance if I am evicted for an owner or relative move-in?

No. The ordinance does not provide relocation benefits at this time.

How much notice am I entitled to if my tenancy is terminated without cause in the City of Palm Springs?

If you have a month-to-month tenancy and have resided in the unit for one or more years, you are entitled to a sixty days’ written notice.  Cal. Civ. Code § 1946.1.​  If you have resided in the unit for less than a year, you are entitled to a thirty-days’ written notice.  Id. 

Does my tenancy fall under the State of California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 or the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance for purposes of just-cause for eviction protections?

Because the City of Palm Springs does not have a just-cause for eviction ordinance, the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“California Rent Control”) likely applies to you if your tenancy meets the requirements of state rent control.  In general, if you live in a multi-unit building that is fifteen years or older and have resided in your unit for at least one year, you may have eviction protections under the state law.

To determine whether you have eviction protections under California Rent Control, please read our guide.  Tenants should also speak to a tenant attorney to understand which laws apply to their tenancy.


LANDLORD RETALIATION UNDER THE CITY OF PALM SPRINGS RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

Does the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance prohibit a landlord from retaliating against a tenant?

Yes. Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against a tenant for the tenant’s assertion of or exercise of any right under the ordinance.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.150.   Also, a tenant can defend an unlawful detainer lawsuit by claiming the action was brought to retaliate against the tenant.  Id.


PENALTIES FOR A LANDLORD WHO VIOLATES THE LAW

Can I sue my landlord for wrongful eviction under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

Because the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance does not require a just-cause reason to terminate a tenancy, there is no right to sue for wrongful eviction.  However, a tenant can bring a lawsuit against their landlord if their landlord demands, accepts, receives or retains any rent payment for more than the amount permitted by the Rent Control Ordinance.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.120.  Tenants may recover actual damages, together with a civil penalty of $500 per violation and reasonable attorneys’ fees.  Id.

Can I sue my landlord for retaliation under the City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance?

Tenants may sue their landlord for retaliation.  A landlord that is found to have retaliated against a tenant will be liable to the tenant for actual and punitive damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees.  Palm Springs, Cal. Mun. Code § 4.08.150. 

The City of Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance only covers a small number of units.  Likely, many tenants in Palm Springs have rent control and eviction protections under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019.  Tenants who have questions about which law applies to their tenancy should call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP at (415) 504-2165 to speak with a tenant attorney.

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