The City of San Jose Apartment Rent Ordinance and Tenant Protection Ordinance – San Jose Rent Control

The City of San Jose has enacted the Apartment Rent Ordinance, which prevents excessive and unreasonable rent increases, and the Tenant Protection Ordinance, which protects certain tenants from eviction absent one of several enumerated just causes. These ordinances only apply to certain residential rental units.

What properties are covered under the City of San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance (Rent Control Ordinance)?

Properties that are covered by San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance include apartments with three or more units that were built and occupied before September 7, 1979. Rental housing that the ordinance does not apply to are single-family homes, in-law units, duplexes, condominiums, townhomes, hotels, and boarding houses rented to transient guests for periods of less than thirty days. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.167.

How much can a landlord increase a tenant’s rent under the City of San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance (Rent Control Ordinance)?

Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, rent increases may only be given once in a twelve-month period. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.310. The maximum annual allowable increase is 5%. Id. A landlord may also petition the San Jose Rent Stabilization Program for an increase to pass through costs to a tenant for capital improvements and for a fair return increase. Id.

Can a tenant file a petition with the City of San Jose’s Rent Stabilization Program if their landlord increased the rent to an amount that exceeds the allowable annual percentage?

Tenants should file a petition with the San Jose Rent Stabilization Program if they believe that their rent increase violates the Apartment Rent Ordinance. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.350. The petition should be filed as soon as the tenant receives notice from the landlord of the increase.

The claims in the tenant’s petition will be investigated, a hearing will be scheduled where testimony may be taken and evidence presented, and a hearing officer will make an appealable finding. If it is determined that the landlord collected rent in violation of the Apartment Rent Ordinance, the landlord will be required to refund the overcharges to the tenant. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.310.

What properties are covered under the City of San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance (Eviction Protection Ordinance)?

In San Jose, just cause eviction protections under the Tenant Protection Ordinance applies to the following properties:

  • Rent stabilized units;
  • Rental Units in any multiple dwelling with at least three units;
  • Units built without a permit, or that are operating illegally; and
  • Guesthouses and guestrooms. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1230.

Duplexes, single-family homes, condos, and second units are not covered, except when the rental unit is unpermitted. Id.
What are the thirteen (13) just causes for eviction under the City of San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance?

If a tenant resides in a unit covered by the Tenant Protection Ordinance, a landlord can only evict the tenant for one of the thirteen (13) just causes that are listed below. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250.

  1. Nonpayment of rent
  2. Material or habitual violation of the tenancy
  3. Substantial damage to the rental unit
  4. Refusing to agree to a similar or new rental agreement upon the expiration of the prior rental agreement
  5. Nuisance
  6. Refusing the landlord reasonable access to the unit
  7. Unapproved holdover subtenant
  8. Substantial rehabilitation of the unit
  9. Ellis Act removal
  10. Owner move-in
  11. Order to vacate due to a court or governmental agencies order
  12. Vacation of an unpermitted unit
  13. Criminal Activity

What is an owner move-in eviction under the City of San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance?

An owner move-in eviction is a just-cause eviction under the Tenant Protection Ordinance. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250. A landlord with at least a 50% interest in the property can evict a tenant to move into the unit themselves or to move in a spouse, domestic partner, parent(s), children, or siblings. Id. There must be no other available unit in the building for the owner to move into. Id. The owner or relative must move into the unit within three months from the date the tenant vacates, and they must live in the unit as their principal place of residence for thirty-six continuous months. Id.

An owner move-in eviction notice must be at least a sixty-day notice if the tenant has lived in the unit for a one year or more, and a thirty-day notice if the tenant has lived there for less than a year. Cal. Civ. Code § 1946.1.

Tenants are entitled to relocation assistance for an owner-move-in eviction in San Jose, plus the return of their security deposit. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250.

What is an eviction due to a substantial rehabilitation under the City of San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance?

An eviction for a substantial rehabilitation of a unit is a just-cause eviction under the Tenant Protection Ordinance. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250. A landlord may evict tenants to substantially rehabilitate a property in order to bring it into compliance with laws that affect the health and safety of the tenants. Id. The owner must have already obtained the necessary permits to do the repairs, and the repairs must render the unit uninhabitable for at least thirty days. Id. To be considered a substantial rehabilitation, the repair costs must equal more than ten times the monthly rent times the number of units to be worked on. Id.

Tenants must also be given advanced notice that they may reoccupy the unit once repairs are completed at the same rent the tenant was previously paying. Id.

Tenants are entitled to relocation assistance for eviction for a substantial rehabilitation of a unit under San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance. Id.

What is an eviction pursuant to the City of San Jose’s Ellis Act Ordinance?

The Ellis Act Ordinance allows the owner of a building to evict tenants in order to demolish or remove property permanently from the rental market. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250. A landlord must serve all tenants in the property a 120-day eviction notice stating the owner’s intent to withdraw from the rental market. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1140.

Some tenants may be able to extend their tenancy longer than 120 days. Tenants who are elderly, disabled, or terminally or catastrophically ill may be eligible to exercise the option to extend their tenancies for at least one year. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1160. And households with a child under the age of eighteen who is enrolled in school and has lived in the unit for at least a year may be able to extend the tenancy through the school year plus an additional sixty days. Id.

Tenants are entitled to relocation assistance under the San Jose Tenant Protection Ordinance for an Ellis Act eviction, plus the return of their security deposit. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1150.

What relocation benefits am I entitled to for a no-fault eviction under the City of San Jose’s Tenant Protection Ordinance?

Tenants who are displaced by an Ellis Act eviction, an owner-move-in eviction, a city issued order to vacate due to an unpermitted apartment or unsafe conditions, or a substantial rehabilitation eviction are entitled to a Base Relocation Assistance benefit. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1250.

The Base Relocation Assistance benefit is calculated by the number of bedrooms in the tenant’s unit, not by the number of tenants, and are as follows:

  • For a studio, a household is entitled to $6,925.00;
  • For a one-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $8,400.00;
  • For a two-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $10,353.00;
  • For a three-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $12,414.00.

For Ellis Act evictions, a tenant household may qualify for an additional relocation benefit called Qualified Assistance. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1150. When at least one tenant in a household is elderly, disabled, terminally ill, catastrophically ill, or has a child under eighteen years old who is enrolled in school, the household is entitled to an additional relocation benefit. Id.

The Qualified Assistance amount is 40% of the Base Relocation Assistance benefit. Tenant households that meet the above qualifications are entitled to the Base Relocation benefit plus the Qualified Assistance benefit. The total amounts are as follows:

  • For a studio, a household is entitled to $9,695.00 ;
  • For a one-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $11,760.00;
  • For a two-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $14,494.00;
  • For a three-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $17,380.00.

Alternatively, where a tenant household is facing an Ellis Act eviction and the property owner offers them a similar rent controlled apartment for the same rent, and the household accepts the offer, they will not receive the Base Relocation Assistance benefit or the Qualified Assistance benefit. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1151. Instead, the tenant household will be entitled to a Special Assistance benefit to cover the moving costs to the new apartment. Id. The amounts are as follows:

  • For a studio, a household is entitled to $1,200.00;
  • For a one-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $1,400.00;
  • For a two-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $1,700.00;
  • For a three-bedroom unit, a household is entitled to $2,000.00.

What are the tenant’s remedies for wrongful eviction under the City of San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance and Tenant Protection Ordinance?

Whenever a landlord wrongfully evicts or attempts to evict a tenant in violation of the City of San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance or the Tenant Protection Ordinance, the tenant may file a lawsuit for injunctive relief, money damages, costs, and reasonable attorney fees. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.1280. Triple damages may also be awarded if the landlord was willful in their noncompliance with the ordinances. Id. Also, a landlord found to be in violation of the ordinance is liable to the tenant for a fine of up to $10,000.00. San Jose, Cal., Mun. Code § 17.23.550

San Jose Tenants who have been served with an eviction notice or who believe they were wrongfully evicted without a just cause should immediately contact an experienced tenant rights attorney at Tobener Ravenscroft to discuss their options.

Have questions? Contact us and speak to a tenant lawyer.



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