Hayward Rent Control

HAYWARD RESIDENTIAL RENT STABILIZATION ORDINANCE

Under the Hayward Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance, a landlord can only raise the rent a certain percentage each year and can only evict a tenant for one of the just-cause reasons enumerated in the law.  While the ordinance covers most residential rental properties, tenants should make sure that the unit they live in has full protection under both the eviction control and rent control sections of the law as some properties only have partial protection.

Which tenants are covered under the Eviction for Cause portion of the Hayward Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance?

The Hayward City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance to expand the just-cause eviction protections to almost every tenant in the city.  The properties that are regulated for the rent control portion of the ordinance, however, remain the same.

Before it was passed, the Hayward Eviction for Cause ordinance only applied to properties where the landlord owned five or more units (whether they were located on the same or different parcels of land) with certificates of occupancy issued before July 1, 1979.  Now, under the emergency ordinance nearly all tenants are covered under the just-cause for eviction section, including tenants renting single-family homes, condominiums, units built after 1979, and properties where the landlord owns four units or less.  While a tenant may still not be covered under the rent control section of the law, almost all tenants in Hayward now are covered under the eviction control section and can only be evicted for one of the fifteen reasons provided under the ordinance.

Effective immediately, landlords must notify existing tenants of this expansion and must notify all new tenants each time a unit is re-rented.

The 15 reasons under the Eviction for Cause section of the ordinance are the following:

  1. Failure to pay rent;
  2. Breach of lease;
  3. Willful and substantial damage to the unit;
  4. Refusal to sign a new lease that is materially the same as the original lease;
  5. Nuisance;
  6. Unreasonably preventing landlord’s entry to the unit upon proper written notice;
  7. Temporary eviction for capital improvements when necessary to bring the unit up to code compliance and the landlord has obtained any necessary and required permits to do so;
  8. Demolition of the unit when landlord has obtained any necessary and required permits to do so;
  9. Owner move-in or relative move-in;
  10. Owner move-in pursuant to lease provision allowing owner to move in;
  11. Tenant is convicted of using the unit for illegal purposes;
  12. Tenant is using the unit to manufacture, distribute, sale, or possession of a controlled substance as defined by California law;
  13. Breach of reasonable written rules and regulations that are applicable to all tenants;
  14. Lawful termination of tenant employment as resident manager; and
  15. Threats by a tenant to commit a crime that could result in death or great bodily harm to another person on the property and a police report of the threat has been made.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 19(a).

The only properties that remain exempt from the just-cause for eviction section are hospitals, hotels and motels, hospitals, nonprofit treatment and transitional housing, skilled nursing facilities, units held in trust for developmentally disabled individual who permanently occupies the unit, and housing where the owner lives in the unit and the kitchen and bath are regularly shared with the tenants.

Which tenants are covered under the rent control portion of the Hayward Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance?

Unlike the eviction control portion of the ordinance, the rent control section has not expanded to the majority of properties.  The landlord must still own at least five units in the City of Hayward for the rent control portion of the ordinance to apply.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 2(l).  The five or more units do not need to be located on the same parcel of land, and there can be any kind of common ownership and any percentage of ownership.  Id.  If a tenant lives in a unit that is not exempt per the below list and their landlord owns a total of five or more other units, the tenant is covered by the rent control portion of the ordinance and can only have their rent raised a certain small percentage each year that is set by the Rent Board.  Id.  

The following units are exempt and do not count against a landlord’s five-unit minimum:

  1. Mobile home units;
  2. Accommodations in hospitals, convalescent homes, extended care facilities, and dormitories;
  3. Publically funded multi-unit housing projects;
  4. All units built after July 1, 1979;
  5. Accommodations in motels, hotels, inns, tourist houses, rooming houses, and boarding houses, unless occupied for more than thirty days; and
  6. Nonprofit cooperative housing owned by a majority of the residents.  Id.

Are single-family homes covered under the rent control portion of the Hayward Residential Rent Stabilization Ordinance?

Under a state law known as Costa-Hawkins, a tenant who rents a single-family home after January 1, 1996 cannot be covered by the rent protection portion of any rent ordinance, but the tenant still has eviction protection in Hayward.  With the recent emergency expansion of the Eviction for Cause portion of the ordinance, all tenants that live in a single-family home in Hayward can only be evicted for one of the just-cause reasons listed above.  Under the eviction control section of the law, there is no longer a requirement for the landlord to own at least five units for eviction protection to apply to a tenant renting a single-family home.  

How much can a landlord increase the rent under the ordinance?

Landlords cannot increase the rent more than 5% per year and may not raise the rent more than twice in a twelve month period.  There are some exceptions to this rule that tenants should be aware of.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 3.

A landlord may raise the rent more than 5% in one year if one of the following apply:

  1. Banking:  A landlord may add up previous untaken rent increases back to 1987 to increase the rent more than the allowable 5%.  The total of the rent increases per year, however, cannot exceed 10%.  The landlord can increase up to 10% every year (i.e. every twelve months) until they have caught up.
  2. Utility cost increase:  A rent increase of more than 5% is allowable to recover costs of utilities such as garbage, gas, electricity, and water.
  3. Fair return:  The rent can also be increased more than 5% for the landlord to make a fair profit, which is subject to notice and review procedures under the ordinance.  Id.

If a tenant receives a rent increase above the allowable amount they should contact the Rent Review Officer or consult with an experienced attorney to confirm the increase is permitted.

What is required in a notice to increase the rent?

The landlord must serve a written notice that contains the following information:

  1. The amount of the rent increase in both dollars and as a percentage of the existing rent;
  2. A statement that the rent increase is consistent with the rent ordinance;
  3. The identity of all other affected tenants and the units which they rent;
  4. The address and telephone number of the Rent Review Officer and the fact that the tenant is encouraged to call for an explanation of the ordinance;
  5. The telephone number of the landlord or management company in charge of providing the notice of rent increase;
  6. A blank Petition for Rent Review to dispute the rent increase; and
  7. A rent increase history and reason for increase if the increase is more than the allowable annual 5%.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 4.

Tenants can contest a rent increase by filing a Petition for Rent Review with the Hayward Rent Review Officer.

To challenge a rent increase, a tenant may file a Petition for Rent Review with the Hayward Rent Review Officer.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 5.  Before filing a petition, the tenant must first make a good-faith attempt to contact the landlord to discuss the increase within ten days of receiving the notice.  Id.  If the discussion is unsuccessful, the tenant must file the petition within thirty days of receiving the increase notice.  Id.  Once the petition is filed, a mediator will be assigned and the tenant and landlord will proceed to mediation for resolution.  Id.

If a tenant also has a claim that the landlord has failed to make necessary and required repairs or has taken away a housing service, such as parking, a tenant may file a Reduction in Housing Services Petition to have the monthly rent reset. 

What does vacancy decontrol mean under the ordinance and why is this important to tenants?

A landlord may increase the monthly rent to market value when all tenants have voluntarily vacated a unit.  Once the unit is occupied by new tenants, the rent may only be increased by the maximum percentages allowable under the ordinance if the landlord owns five or more units.  In some instances, the landlord can decontrol their property, which means that, if they meet the qualifications, they can permanently exempt the property from the rent limitations of the ordinance.  If the owner conducts substantial improvements to the unit and obtains a written certification from the City that the building is up to code, it is possible the property can be designated exempt from the rent control portion of the ordinance.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 8(a).  The landlord must also file a notice with the Hayward Rent Review Officer within thirty days of re-rental stating the unit has met all the requirements under the ordinance to be decontrolled.  Id.

If a property has been decontrolled, it is important for a tenant to be aware of this fact. A tenant may assume that because the unit they plan to rent is one of five or more properties of the landlord that it is automatically protected by the rent control section of the ordinance.  But, it is possible that the unit has been decontrolled and is exempt from the rent limitations of the ordinance, which means that the rent can be raised every year more than the allowable percentage under the ordinance.  Once the unit is decontrolled, upon re-renting, the landlord is required to provide the new tenant with the following: “a document indicating the nature and value of the improvements made to the rental unit; a written statement that the security deposit of the previous tenant, if any, was not used for any purpose other than to compensate the landlord for the previous tenant’s default in the payment of rent, repair damages to the rental unit caused by the previous tenant beyond ordinary wear and tear, or clean the rental unit if necessary upon termination of the previous tenancy; a declaration by the previous tenant that the unit was voluntarily vacated or non-voluntarily vacated, or a declaration under penalty of perjury by the landlord that the unit was voluntarily vacated and the previous tenant was asked to sign the declaration but is unavailable or has refused to sign; and notice that the tenant is covered by the provisions of Sections l8 and 19 of this ordinance.”  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 8(e)(1).  

Landlords that do not provide notice to the tenants before renting the unit that it has been decontrolled are in violation of the ordinance and can be held liable for up to three times the amount of any rent increase wrongfully imposed.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 8(g). 

Does Hayward’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance prohibit landlords from retaliating against a tenants?

Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants that assert their legal rights under the ordinance, such as filing a Rent Review Petition to contest a rent increase. Landlords cannot threaten eviction, carry out an eviction, harass the tenant in a manner that causes the tenant to vacate, increase the rent, decrease housing services, or increase a security deposit.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 12(a).  If the landlord engages in any of these types of acts within six months of a tenant asserting their rights under the ordinance, it will be presumed that the landlord’s acts are in retaliation.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 12(b).

Additionally, the State of California has an anti-retaliation statute that prevents a landlord from harassing a tenant after the tenant has asserted rights under law.  Cal. Civ. Code § 1942.5.  Landlords who violate this prohibition are liable for actual damages, attorney’s fees, and punitive damages of up to $2,000 per retaliatory act.  Id.

What are the tenant’s remedies against a landlord that has violated the City of Hayward’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance?

Any landlord who violates the ordinance shall be liable to the tenant for actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 20(a).  If the landlord has been found to have acted willfully or with oppression, fraud, or malice, they shall also be liable for a civil penalty of five hundred dollars or, if greater, three times the amount of money the landlord accepted, received, or retained in violation of the provisions of this ordinance.  Id.

Also, a landlord who fails to provide a tenant with any information, documentation, or notice required by the provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of an infraction and shall be fined and can be punished for up to six months in prison.  Hayward., Cal., Rent Stabilization Ordinance § 20(b).

Tenants may additionally make a claim for the lost rental value of the rent-controlled unit, moving costs, and emotional distress.  The lost rental value is calculated as the fair-market monthly rental value of the lost unit less the actual rent paid by the tenant when evicted times the number of years the tenant expected to stay in the unit.  Chacon v. Litke, 181 Cal. App. 4th 1234 (2010) (upholding an award of three times, twenty years of projected lost rental value).

Tenants who believe their landlord has violated the Hayward Rent Stabilization Ordinance should immediately contact Tobener Ravenscroft to discuss their options with a tenant rights attorney.

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