Mountain View Rent Control and Tenant Relocation Assistance Program

The City of Mountain View has a rent increase limitation ordinance (“Mountain View Rent Control”), which caps the annual amount a landlord can increase rent, and a just cause for eviction ordinance (“Mountain View Eviction Control”), which protects tenants from eviction absent one of the enumerated just causes for eviction. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1700 et seq. (2017). The Mountain View Rent Control Ordinance only applies to certain residential rental units, as described below. Mountain View Eviction Control applies to [nearly all] rental units in Mountain View.
Am I covered by Mountain View Rent Control?

Mountain View Rent Control applies to buildings with three or more residential units in Mountain View that have a certificate of occupancy before February 1, 1995. If your building has multiple residential units and was built before 1995, you are most likely protected by Mountain View Rent Control. Cal. Civ. Code § 1954.52.

However, the following units are not covered by Mountain View Rent Control even if they were built before 1995:

  • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(1) (2017).
  • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(2) (2017).
  • Rental units owned and operated or managed by a non-profit organization under to a tax credit program; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(3) (2017).
  • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(4) (2017).
  • Rental units where the first certificate of occupancy is issued on or after February 1, 1995; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(5); Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(b)(1) (2017).
  • Single family homes and condominiums (exempt form rent control under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act at California Civil Code section 1954.52); Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).
  • Rental units in a single building with fewer than three residential units; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).
  • A companion unit on the same grounds as a single-family home that is permitted and in compliance with Mountain View, Cal., City Code, C. 36, Art. IV, Div. 10. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).
  • Rental units covered under the Mountain View Affordable Housing Program. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(b)(2) (2017).

    What are some common scenarios where my rental unit is not covered by Mountain View Rent Control and my landlord can increase the rent?

    A landlord who is the primary resident of a single-family home who rents one room may freely increase the rent and is not covered by Mountain View Rent Control. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1704(a) (2017). A tenant that rents a companion unit, as defined by Mountain View City Code Chapter 36, Article IV, Division 10, is not covered under Mountain View Rent Control. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1704(b) (2017). Additionally, under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a landlord can increase the rent on single-family homes and condominiums. Cal. Civ. Code § 1954.52.

    How much can a landlord increase the rent on a rent-controlled unit?

    For a unit covered under Mountain View Rent Control where an original occupant still lives in the unit, the landlord may only increase the rent one time per year by the annual general adjustment published by the Mountain View Rental Housing Committee (“Housing Committee”). Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1707(a) (2017). The annual general adjustment is equal to the Consumer Price Index for all Bay Area consumers, and must be between two and five percent each year. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1707(a) (2017). The landlord must provide a written thirty days advanced rent increase notice to the tenant. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1707(c) (2017). If the landlord does not provide this required notice, the rent increase is void.

    Can the landlord increase the rent by more than the allowable amount?

    Under Mountain View Rent Control, landlords can petition the Housing Committee for a rent increase above the general annual limit by arguing that the landlord is not getting a fair rate of return on the investment. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1707(c) (2017). The Rent Board may consider several factors in making individual adjustments to the rent ceiling.

    A landlord who petitions the Housing Committee for a rent increase about the Mountain View rent increase limitation may assert the following applicable 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.

    Under Mountain View Rent Control, tenants are permitted to attend and even 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 deteriorating 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.

    However, the 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 Mountain View Rent Control, Mountain View Eviction Control, or any other provision of Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, section 1700 et seq. (2017); 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. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1710(a)(1) (2017).

    What can a tenant file with the Mountain View Rental Housing Committee?

    A tenant may file three types of documents with the Housing Committee:

    • Petition for a Downward Adjustment for Landlord’s Failure to Maintain a Habitable Rental Unit;
    • Petition for a Downward Adjustment for a Decrease in Housing Services or Maintenance; and,
    • Petition for a Downward Adjustment for Unlawful Rent Increase or Collection. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1710 (2017).
      A tenant’s Petition for a Downward Adjustment must be submitted on a form that will soon be created by the Housing Committee. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1710 (2017).

    Which Units have eviction protection in Mountain View?

    Mountain View Eviction Control applies to all residential units in Mountain View, except:

    • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(1) (2017).
    • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(2) (2017).
    • Rental units owned and operated or managed by a non-profit organization under to a tax credit program; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(3) (2017).
    • 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; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(4) (2017).
    • Rental units where the first certificate of occupancy is issued after December 30, 2016; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(5); Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(b)(1) (2017).
    • Single family homes and condominiums (exempt form rent control under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act at California Civil Code section 1954.52); Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).
    • Rental units in a single building with fewer than three residential units; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).
    • A companion unit on the same grounds as a single-family home that is permitted and in compliance with Mountain View, Cal., City Code, C. 36, Art. IV, Div. 10. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1703(a)(6) (2017).

    What are the just causes for eviction in Mountain View?

    Under Mountain View Eviction Control, a landlord can only evict for the following nine reasons:

    • 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 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 form Mountain View.

    Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705 (2017).

    Can I add a roommate in Mountain View?

    Under Mountain View Eviction Control, a tenant is entitled to add an additional child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother, or sister, or the spouse or domestic partner of such relative as a tenant without the landlord’s approval, so long as the total number of occupants complies with the California Health and Safety Code section 17922. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(2)(B) (2017). A tenant is entitled to replace departing tenants as subtenants on a one-for-one basis if the tenant continues to reside in the unit as their primary residence and the total number of occupants in the unit does not exceed the maximum number of occupants as determined under California Health and Safety Code section 17922. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(2)(A) (2017). A landlord has the right to approve or disapprove a prospective replacement subtenant who is not a relative, or the relative’s spouse or domestic partner, but the landlord may not unreasonably withhold consent. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(2)(A) (2017). A tenant’s written request to sublease is deemed approved by the landlord if the landlord fails to respond to the request within fourteen days. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(2)(A) (2017).

    Who is protected from an owner/relative move-in eviction?

    Tenants are protected from eviction for an owner or relative move-in eviction if they:

    • Have resided in the rental unit for at least five years and is either at least sixty-two years old or disabled under California Government Code section 12955.3; Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(7)(F) (2017).
      OR
    • Is certified as being terminally ill by the tenant’s treating physician, regardless of the length of tenancy. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(7)(F) (2017).

    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. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(7)(F) (2017).
    How many units can be removed from a building for owner/relative move in?

    If an owner or their relative already lives in one unit on the property, or if a vacancy already exists on the property, that same owner on their relative cannot do an owner/relative move in on another unit in the building. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(7)(B) (2017). However, a disabled landlord or their relative may be able to move into a different unit in the building if they are disabled and the unit is necessary to accommodate that person’s disability. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(7)(B) (2017).

    What is required for a temporary eviction for substantial repairs?

    Landlords are allowed to temporarily evict a tenant to perform substantial repairs. However, before evicting under this just cause, the landlord must provide the tenant notice that the tenant has the right to: (1) Move into a comparable vacant rental unit owned by the landlord, at the same rent; (2) Reoccupy the rental unit upon completion of the repairs at the same rent charged before the temporary relocation. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(6) (2017). The notice must also inform the tenant that the 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. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(6) (2017). Additionally, the landlord must obtain all necessary permits for the repairs from the City of Mountain View before evicting under this just cause. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(6) (2017). The eviction must be in good faith to undertake substantial repairs that cannot be completed while the unit is occupied. Additionally, the repairs must be necessary to bring the property into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting health and safety of tenants in the building. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(6) (2017). Once the repairs are completed, the landlord must offer the unit back to the original tenant at the same rent. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705(a)(6)(B) (2017).

    When is an eviction illegal?

    A landlord cannot evict, or attempt to evict, a tenant covered by Mountain View Eviction Control unless at least one of the eight just causes for eviction exists. Under Mountain View Eviction Control, all notices of termination must inform the tenant (1) of the cause for the termination; and, (2) that a failure to timely vacate may result in eviction proceedings. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Art. XVII, § 1705 (2017).
    What are the tenant’s remedies for wrongful eviction under Mountain View Eviction Control?

    Wherever a landlord or anyone assisting a landlord wrongfully evicts or attempts to evict in violation of Mountain View Eviction Control and Mountain View Rent Control, the tenant may institute a civil proceeding for injunctive relief, money damages of at least three times actual damages (including damages for mental or emotional distress), and whatever other relief the court deems appropriate. In the case of an award of damages for mental or emotional distress, the award will only be tripled if the trier of the fact finds that the landlord acted in willful violation of the Mountain View rental ordinance or with oppression, fraud, or malice. The prevailing tenant shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs.
    Tenants who believe they were wrongfully evicted without just cause should contact an attorney to discuss their options.
    What are the protections for an Ellis Act eviction under Mountain View Eviction Control?

    All tenants must be given must be given a 120-day eviction notice and certain tenants are entitled to a one-year notice. Households with a tenant who is disabled within the meaning of Government Code section 7060.4(6), and who has resided in the unit for more than one year, are entitled to a one-year notice. Households with a tenant who is over the age of sixty-two are also entitled to a one-year notice. These protections apply to both the original leaseholder and subsequent occupants. Any disabled or elderly tenant must notify the landlord of their right to a one-year notice within sixty days of any notice.

    Am I entitled to relocation assistance for an owner/relative move-in eviction or an Ellis Act Eviction?

    Yes, your landlord must provide you a sixty-day subscription to a rental agency and the cash equivalent of three months’ rent based on the monthly rent for a similarly sized unit with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms as determined by a survey taken at least once a year of apartment rent sin Mountain View. To qualify, your household income must not exceed 120% of the median household income for Santa Clara County.
    Additionally, if you are 62 years old or older, disabled, or a legal dependent under age 18, your household is entitled to an additional $3,000.

    Am I entitled to relocation assistance for a demolition or substantial repairs eviction?

    Yes, the Mountain View City Council will soon determine the amount in the future.

    Who is eligible for relocation assistance in the City of Mountain View?

    A residential household is eligible for relocation assistance if the household’s annual income does not exceed 80% of the median average household income for Santa Clara County, adjusted for household size according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Exceptions to this eligibility may apply if the landlord provides evidence of any of the following:

    1. The tenant’s occupancy ended due to lease expiration, and the tenancy was not extended; Civil Code § 1945 or
    2. The tenant had not paid rent as required by the lease or was found in a civil action to have committed unlawful acts; Civil Code § 1945 or
    3. The tenant received written notice, before entering into a written or oral agreement to become a tenant, that an application was on file with the city to convert the rental unit to another use.

    When must a landlord provide a notice of intent to displace a tenant?

    Within 30 days of filing an application with the City, a landlord must notify each residential household on the property affected. The notice must be sent by regular and certified mail as well as posted on the door of each rental unit. The landlord must provide evidence to the city of having properly provided notice of intent for the application to be considered complete. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. I, § 43.23 (2017).

    What information must a landlord provide on a notice of intent form?

    A notice of intent must contain the following:

    1. Name and address of the current property owner and project developer;
    2. Description of the application being filed, including a general time frame for project approval;
    3. Full explanation of the relocation assistance available to eligible residential households and special-circumstance households, including the procedure for submitting claims for relocation assistance;
    4. Contact information for the independent agency assisting with relocation. This contact information and a brief explanation shall be translated into non-English languages as designated by the City;
    5. Confirmation of the tenants’ right to receive written notice for each land use hearing as well as those tenants’ right to appear and be heard at such hearings; and
    6. Any other information deemed necessary or desirable by the community development department. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. I, § 43.23 (2017).

    Does the City of Mountain View also require a special notice of termination?

    A landlord must provide a 90-day eviction notice to tenants in buildings with four or more units who are being displaced by demolition, remodel, redevelopment, condominium conversion, or change of use are entitled to relocation. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. I, § 43.23 (2017).
    What relocation assistance is specified by the City of Mountain View?

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

    • A full refund of a tenant’s security deposit, excluding any funds required from that deposit to repair damages caused by the tenant to his or her rental unit;
    • A 60-day subscription to a rental agency;
    • The cash equivalent of three months’ rent, based on the average monthly rent for a similarly-sized unit in Mountain View;
    • Households determined by the City to have special circumstances will be paid an additional $3000 per rental unit, adjusted annually and based on the CPI for the San Francisco Bay Area. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. I, § 43.23 (2017).

    What protections exist for rental units not covered by Mountain View Rent Control?

    Mountain View also has a Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Program (“Rental Housing Program”). Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. II, § 43.20 et seq. (2017). The Rental Housing Program applies to all rental properties in Mountain View with three or more dwelling units in a single structure. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. II, § 43.2(c) (2017). Under the Rental Housing Program, a landlord may not increase the rent more than two times within a one-year period. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. II, § 43.24 (2017).

    The Rental Housing Program provides a mandatory dispute resolution program for the following rental housing disputes:

    • Rent increases above 7.2% within a one-year period;
    • Service reductions, defined as reduction in level of services or a failure to provide a habitable premise;
    • Thirty or Sixty-day notices of termination;
    • Maintenance/Repairs;
    • Security Deposits; and,
    • Termination of the tenant before the end of the lease term. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 43, Art. II, § 43.21(n) (2017).
    • The process of filing an application with the community development department is required under all circumstances, and a landlord must submit all information as outlined in the ordinance. However, the landlord may also submit an alternate mitigation strategy for approval. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 36, Art. XIII, § 36.38.35 (2017).

    The landlord may provide other concessions such as:

    • permanent relocation of displaced tenants into similar apartments on-site or nearby,
    • ongoing rent concessions, or proper notice and other elements of mitigation that would satisfy the goals of this ordinance. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 36, Art. XIII, § 36.38.35 (2017).

    If the landlord elects to provide an alternate mitigation strategy, the landlord must provide complete information as determined necessary by the community development director. All alternate mitigation proposals must be approved by the city council. Mountain View, Cal., City Code, Ch. 36, Art. XIII, § 36.38.35 (2017).

    Additionally, Mountain View also has a voluntary mediation program for any disputes not covered under Rental Housing Program. The voluntary mediation program consists of a confidential meeting between the parties who have a disagreement, facilitated by a mediator who guides a discussion of issues toward a mutually acceptable agreement.

    Disclaimer

    Tobener Ravenscroft LLP is a full-service tenants’ rights firm representing tenants. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, please consider legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact us.

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