Tobener Ravenscroft

Los Gatos Rent Control

What units are covered under the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance?

Properties with three or more rental units held under common ownership and located in the City of Los Gatos are covered.  The Ordinance covers all rent increases and landlord/tenant disputes arising after July 1, 1980.[1]  The following units are excluded from rent control:

  1. Multi-unit properties where only one unit is available for rent;
  2. A room in an owner-occupied dwelling where under the lease provisions the tenant has limited use of a shared kitchen;
  3. A single house, condominium unit, or planned development units such as dwellings governed by an HOA or COA;[2]
  4. A hotel room or similar accommodation ordinarily let for occupancy by the same tenant for periods of less than thirty days;
  5. A hospital room, skilled nursing facility, or similar accommodation where the main factor in the rental relationship is the personal care given to the tenant;
  6. A dwelling owned, operated, or managed by a government agency or which is exempted by state or federal law from rent regulation;[3] and
  7. Mobile homes located in mobile home parks and not owned by the mobile home park owner.[4]

How much can the landlord increase rent under the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance?

  • Rent may only be increased once annually;[5]
  • An annual rent increase shall not exceed the greater of seventy percent of the annual percent change in CPI or five percent of the existing monthly rent;[6]
  • A landlord may pass through capital improvements averaged on a per-unit basis and amortized over a period of not less than sixty months;[7]
  • A landlord may also pass through a regulatory fee for administering the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance directly to tenants.[8]  The fee may be passed through to a tenant at a monthly rate of no more than one-twelfth of the total fee amount;[9]
  • A landlord may pass through increased costs of maintenance and operation[10] and costs of rehabilitation[11], potentially subject to arbitration should the tenant challenge the rent increase; and
  • The landlord may also increase the rent at any time, with the written consent of all affected tenants.  Consent shall be sought through conciliation or mediation, facilitated by the Los Gatos Dispute Resolution Program.[12]

Can the landlord reduce services included in the rent?

No.  Any reduction in housing services without the corresponding reduction in the total rent demanded or paid, is considered by the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance to be a rent increase.[13]  If such a rent increase is challenged, any reduction in housing services shall be taken into consideration by an arbitrator in determining whether the rent increase is reasonable.[14]

Does the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance apply to duplexes?

Generally, no.  But the Rent Ordinance does apply to Los Gatos duplexes as follows:[15]

  • Tenants and landlords of duplexes are entitled to the conciliation services provided by the ordinance[16]; and
  • A regulatory fee shall be imposed on each duplex rental unit for the cost of the above resolution services.

Can a landlord bank past rent increases?

Yes, but only as determined by a Los Gatos Dispute Resolution Program arbitrator.  According to the Los Gatos Rent Control Ordinance, the absence or infrequency of past rent increases may enable the landlord to bank those past rent increases if the landlord provides sufficient evidence to an arbitrator.[17]

What information must be provided to a tenant with a notice of rent increase?

For a notice of rent increase to be valid, the landlord must provide, with the notice of proposed increase, the following:

  • Written advice to the affected tenants of their right to petition for dispute resolution; and
  • The name and current telephone number of the designated agent administering the Rent Ordinance for the City of Los Gatos.

The Landlord must also respond in writing within thirty days to a written request made by any affected tenant for the names and apartment numbers of all tenants receiving increase notices for the same month.

Can a landlord just evict me to avoid the rent-increase restrictions?

No.  While there is no just cause eviction protection in the City of Los Gatos, the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance states that a landlord shall not recovered possession if:

  • The landlord’s main reason for seeking to recover possession is in retaliation for a tenant exercising rights under the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance; or
  • The landlord is attempting to recover possession mainly in an effort to evade the purposes of the Rent Ordinance.

A tenant who believes they are forced to vacate a unit despite the protections of the Los Gatos Rent Ordinance should contact a lawyer to pursue claims of wrongful eviction.

What is the process to challenge an illegal rent increase or service reduction?

A tenant who wishes to challenge a rent increase must first file a petition for dispute resolution with the Los Gatos Dispute Resolution Program, administered by Project Sentinel, a non-profit agency contracted by the Town of Los Gatos.  Filing this petition stays the increase until a final outcome is reached.[18]

Petitions challenging a rent increase must be filed within sixty days of receipt of a valid notice of rent increase from the landlord.[19]

[1]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.105(a).

[2]     Planned development unit as defined under Business & Professions Code § 11003.

[3]     For example, under the Costa-Hawkins Act, California state law generally exempts rental housing built after 1995 from rent controls.  Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, Cal. Civ. Code, §§ 1954.50, et seq.

[4]     But see California Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 798.17, 798.21.

[5]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.310(b).

[6]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.310(c):  The most recent CPI is the bimonthly figure most recently available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The 70% CPI ceiling is an amount arrived at by adjusting the current rent to reflect 70% of the most recent annual average change in the CPI.

[7]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.315(a)(1)(b). The landlord does not need prior approval, but the tenant has a right to challenge this through arbitration if they believe the pass through is unreasonable.

[8]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.245(a).

[9]     Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.310(b)(l).

[10]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.315(a)(1)(c).

[11]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.315(a)(1)(d).

[12]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.310(b)(2).

[13]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.020(m).

[14]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.315(c)(4).

[15]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.045(a,b).

[16] Duplexes are not eligible for mediation or arbitration services offered by the Los Gatos Dispute Resolution Program.

[17]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.315(c)(2)(a,b).

[18]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.110.

[19]   Los Gatos Ord. No. 2128 § 14.80.205.

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