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Mountain View Rent Control: Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act

The City of Mountain View Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (“Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance”), which went into effect December 23, 2016, limits the amount a tenant’s rent can be increased annually and prohibits evictions unless there is a just-cause reason.  The City of Mountain View also has a Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance that provides assistance to eligible tenants in cases of no-fault displacements.

A drone view of downtown Mountain View in California
A drone view of downtown Mountain View in California

Can tenants waive their rights under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

No.  Any provision in a rental agreement that waives a tenants rights under the ordinance is against public policy and void.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1713.

Which properties are covered under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Fully Covered Properties:

Buildings with three or more residential units that have a certificate of occupancy before February 1, 1995, are fully covered under both the rent-ceiling provisions and just-cause eviction provisions of the ordinance.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1703.

The following units are exempt from both rent control and just-cause protections:

  • Rental units in hotels, motels, inns, tourist homes, and rooming and boarding houses which are rented primarily to guests for fewer than thirty consecutive days;
  • Rental units in any hospital, convent, monastery, extended medical care facility, asylum, non-profit home for the elderly, or university or college owned and operated dormitory;
  • Rental units owned and operated or managed by a non-profit organization under a tax credit program;
  • Rental units owned, operated, or managed by a government agency or authority where subsidized tenants live, and where the government program specifically exempts such unit form rent control;
  • Single family homes and condominiums;
  • Rental units in a single building with fewer than three residential units;
  • A permitted companion unit on the same grounds as a single-family home.  Id.

Partially Covered Properties:

Some buildings that have three or more units have partial coverage. The following units are exempt from rent-ceiling protections but have just-cause eviction protections:

  • Rental units in buildings with three or more units where the first certificate of occupancy is issued between February 1, 1995, and December 23, 2016, and
  • Rental units covered under the Mountain View Affordable Housing Program.  Id.

Does my tenancy fall under the State of California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 or the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

The rent-ceiling and just-cause eviction protections under the State of California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“California Rent Control”) apply to all units in the City of Mountain View that are not covered by the Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance and that otherwise meet the requirements of state rent control.  In general, the city’s rent-ceiling and just-cause for eviction protections apply to buildings with three or more units that were built before February 1, 1995.  If your Mountain View building was built after February 1, 1995, or is one of the exempt buildings under the city’s ordinance, please read our guide to determine if your unit is covered by State of California Rent Control rent caps and just-cause eviction protections.


ALLOWABLE RENT INCREASES UNDER THE CITY OF MOUNTAIN VIEW RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

How much can my rent be increased under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

A tenant’s rent may only be increased one time per year by the annual general adjustment (“AGA”) published by the Mountain View Rental Housing Committee (“Housing Committee”). Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1707.  The AGA is equal to the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) for the Bay Area.  Id.  To increase a tenant’s rent, the landlord must provide the tenant with a thirty-day advanced written notice of the increase.  Id.  

Can my landlord file a petition to increase my rent beyond the AGA under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Landlords may file a petition to increase a tenant’s rent above the allowable annual rent adjustment percent if the landlord can demonstrate that the adjustment is necessary to provide a fair rate of return.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1710.  The landlord may claim the following factors in support of their petition:

  • Increased property taxes;
  • Increased maintenance and operating expenses;
  • Capital improvements necessary to bring the property into compliance or maintain compliance with applicable local code requirements affecting health and safety, and where such capital improvement costs are properly amortized over the life of the improvement;
  • Increase in the number of tenants occupying the rental unit;
  • Substantial deterioration of the rental unit that is not normal wear and tear; and,
  • The pattern of recent rent increases or decreases during the tenancy.  Id.

Tenants may contest the landlord’s petition.  A tenant may assert the following applicable defenses to fight the petitioned rent increase:

  • Decreased property taxes;
  • Decrease in the number of tenants occupying the rental unit;
  • Substantial deterioration of the rental unit other than as a result of normal wear and tear;
  • The pattern of recent rent increases or decreases; and,
  • Landlord’s failure to provide adequate housing services or to comply with applicable state rental housing laws, local housing codes, health and safety codes, or the lease agreement.  Id.

A landlord will not be permitted to petition for an above-limit rent increase if the landlord has either (1) continued to fail to comply with any provisions of the Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance or, (2) failed to maintain the rental unit in compliance with the implied warranty of habitability, meaning they have failed to make necessary repairs to the rental unit.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1707.

Can tenants file a petition to decrease their rent under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Tenants may file a petition with the Housing Committee to reduce their rent for their landlord’s failure to maintain a habitable rental unit, for a decrease in housing services, for an unlawful rent increase, and for an undue hardship for a large banked rent increase.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1710.

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

Yes, landlords are allowed to “bank” past rent increases not taken annually and impose them at a later date.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1707.  However, if the overall rent increase in a twelve month period exceeds 10%, the landlord must petition the Housing Committee for approval.  Id.  Additionally, the ability to bank rent increases shall not carry over to a new landlord when there is an ownership change to the property.  Id.


CITY OF MOUNTAIN VIEW JUST-CAUSE EVICTION PROTECTIONS

What are the just-cause reasons for eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

A landlord can only evict a tenant if they have a just-cause reason to do so.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.  If a landlord does not have one of the permissible reasons for eviction, they cannot force a tenant out of their home.

The following are the just-cause reasons for eviction:

  • Failure to pay rent;
  • Breach of the lease;
  • Nuisance;
  • Ongoing criminal activity;
  • Failure to give the landlord access for repair, improvements, or showing the unit to prospective purchasers;
  • Temporarily evict in order to undertake necessary and substantial repairs;
  • Owner or relative move-in;
  • To withdraw an entire building from the housing market (also known as an Ellis Act eviction); or
  • To demolish the rental unit, after the landlord has obtained all necessary permits.  Id.

How can I add a roommate to my unit under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

A tenant is entitled to add an additional child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother, or sister, or the spouse or domestic partner of such relative to the unit as long as the total number of occupants complies with the California Health and Safety Code Section 17922.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.  A tenant is also entitled to replace a departing tenant as a one-for-one roommate replacement.  Id.  The landlord may not increase the tenant’s rent nor increase the security deposit for the additional occupant. 

Tenants who would like to add a family member or one-for-one roommate replacement must send a written notice to the landlord requesting the addition.  Id.  A copy of the notice must also be filed with the Housing Committee.  Id.  The landlord cannot unreasonably deny the tenant’s request.  Id.  The request will be deemed approved if the landlord fails to respond within fourteen days of the written notice.  Id. 

What requirements must be met by the landlord to evict a tenant through an owner or relative move-in under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

A landlord who seeks to move themselves or a family member (spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, or grandparents) into the unit must have good-faith to occupy the unit within sixty days of the tenant vacating and to reside in the unit as their principal place of residence for thirty-six consecutive months.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.  The landlord must also be a natural person who has at least a fifty percent recorded ownership interest in the property.  Id.  In addition, there must be no other vacant units in the property.  Id.

If the landlord does not move into the unit within sixty days after the tenant vacates, the landlord is required to offer the unit back to the tenant at the same rental rate in effect at the time the tenant moved out, and the landlord must pay for the tenant’s moving costs.  Id.

How much notice am I entitled to for an owner or relative move-in eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

If you have resided in the unit for a year or more, you are entitled to a sixty days’ written notice to vacate.  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. 

Am I protected from an owner or relative move-in eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance if I am elderly or disabled?

Tenants are protected from eviction for an owner or relative move-in eviction if they have resided in the unit for at least five years and are either sixty-two years old or are disabled; or they are certified as being terminally ill by their treating physician, regardless of the length of tenancy.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.

However, these protections do not apply where the landlord or their qualified relative moving in is at least sixty-two years old, disabled, or terminally ill and all units in the building are occupied by protected tenants.  Id. 

What requirements must be met by the landlord to evict a tenant through an Ellis Act eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Ordinance?

An Ellis Act eviction means that the landlord has decided to go out of the residential rental business.  To withdraw the unit from the rental market, the landlord must seek in good faith to withdraw all the units in the building.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.  A withdrawal notice and other required documents must first be filed with the Housing Committee before the landlord can provide an eviction notice to the tenants.  Id.

How much notice am I entitled to for an Ellis Act eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Tenants are entitled to an advanced written notice of at least 120 days.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.

Am I protected from an Ellis Act eviction under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance if I am elderly or disabled?

Generally, tenants are not protected from an Ellis Act eviction, but a tenant may be entitled to a longer notice period.  Households with a tenant who is sixty-two years or older or disabled within the meaning of Government Code Section 12955.3, and who has resided in the unit for more than one year, are entitled to a one-year notice.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.

What requirements must be met by the landlord to temporarily evict a tenant for substantial repairs to the unit under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Landlords who want to temporarily evict a tenant to make substantial repairs to the unit must first obtain all the permits necessary to bring the unit into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting the health and safety of the tenants.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1705.  The repairs must be ones that cannot be done while the unit is occupied and that will take at least thirty days to complete.  Id. 

The landlord must provide the tenant notice that they have the right to either move into a comparable vacant rental unit owned by the landlord at the same rent or reoccupy the rental unit upon completion of the repairs at the same rent charged before the temporary relocation.  Id.  A tenant is not eligible for relocation assistance if the tenant accepts the landlord’s offer to move into a comparable vacant rental unit at the same rent.  Id.


CITY OF MOUNTAIN VIEW TENANT RELOCATION ASISTANCE ORDINANCE

Am I entitled to relocation benefits if I am evicted for a no-fault reason under the City of Mountain View Tenant Relocation Ordinance?

Tenants who are evicted for no-fault reasons such as an owner move-in, Ellis Act, demolition, or substantial repairs, and who meet the annual household income requirements are eligible for relocation assistance.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 36.38.15.  Tenants whose household annual income does not exceed 120% of the median household income for Santa Clara County plus $5000 qualify for relocation benefits.  Id. 

Relocation payment is provided per rental unit, not per tenant.  If multiple individuals occupy a single rental unit, relocation assistance shall be paid to the household or individual entitled to occupy a rental unit under a valid rental or lease agreement with the landlord.  Id.

How much is the relocation assistance under the City of Mountain View Tenant Relocation Ordinance?

The landlord shall provide relocation assistance to eligible residential households as follows:

  • A refund of the tenant’s security deposit, excluding any funds required from the deposit to repair damages caused by the tenant to their rental unit;
  • Unlimited access subscription to a rental agency until the tenant finds a new unit or the tenancy is terminated, whichever comes first;
  • Relocation advisory services of a third-party agency;
  • The cash equivalent of three months’ rent, based on the average monthly rent for a similarly-sized unit in the City of Mountain View; and
  • Households where a tenant is sixty-two years old or older, disabled, or has a legal dependent under the age of 19 are eligible for an additional $8000 per rental unit.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 36.38.15.

What is the “first right of return” under the City of Mountain View Tenant Relocation Ordinance?

When a property is withdrawn from the rental market, such as through an Ellis Act eviction, and the landlord returns the rental unit to the residential rental market, the displaced tenant shall have a right to reoccupy the unit.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 36.38.30.

If the rental unit is returned to the rental market within two years, the tenant may reoccupy at the same lawful rental rate in effect at the time the tenancy was terminated, plus any allowed general adjustments. The tenant may also seek actual and punitive damages against the landlord.  Id.

If the unit is returned to the market within five years, the tenant may reoccupy at the same lawful rental rate in effect at the time the tenancy was terminated, plus any allowed general adjustments. The tenant may also seek punitive damages of no more than six month’s rent against the landlord if the landlord does not notify the tenant that the unit has been placed back on the rental market.  Id.

If the unit is returned to the market within 10 years, the tenant has a right to renew the tenancy at market rate.   Id.


BUYOUT REGULATIONS UNDER THE CITY OF MOUNTAIN VIEW RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

Are there any requirements under the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance for a tenant and landlord to enter into a buyout agreement to terminate a tenancy?

A buyout agreement is an agreement where a landlord pays a tenant money to vacate their rent-controlled unit.  The City of Mountain View requires that a landlord provide the tenant with a tenant buyout disclosure form about their rights under the Rent Control Ordinance before beginning negotiations with a tenant.  Mt. View, Cal., Rules & Regulations, Chapter  8.  The signed disclosure form must then be filed with the Housing Committee.  Id.

If the parties enter into an agreement, the landlord must file the signed agreement with the Housing Committee within fifteen calendar days.  Id.  In addition, each party has ten days after the execution of the agreement to rescind it.  Id.


PENALTIES FOR A LANDLORD WHO VIOLATES THE LAW

Can I sue my landlord for violating the City of Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance?

Yes, tenants may sue their landlord for violation of any provision of the ordinance.  Mt. View, Cal. Mun. Code § 1714.  A landlord that is found to have violate the ordinance shall be liable to the tenant for their actual damages.  Id.  A tenant that prevails in a lawsuit against their landlord shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs as determined by the court.  Id. Also, if a landlord has acted willfully or with oppression, fraud, or malice, the tenant shall be awarded treble (triple) damages.  Id.

The City Attorney may bring a lawsuit against a landlord for violation of the ordinance if a tenant does not.  Id.   The tenant has the right to opt in or out of the action.  Id.  If the tenant opts-in, they may not bring their own separate action against the landlord for the same violation.  Id.  If the tenant opts-out, they may bring their own action against the landlord.  Id. 

Further, any violation of the ordinance shall be an affirmative defense to an unlawful detainer lawsuit.  Id.

Tenants who believe their landlord has violated the City of Mountain View Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act should contact Tobener Ravenscroft at (415) 504-2165 to discuss their options with a tenant rights attorney.

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