If you are a tenant that lives in Marin County, you may have rent increase protections and eviction protections. Over the past few years, cities throughout the county have started to respond to the high rent costs and the growing housing insecurity within its borders. While not all areas of the county have tenant protection ordinances in place, the trend will continue and tenants should check here for any updates.

Currently, cities and towns in the unincorporated areas of Marin County, the City of San Rafael, and the Town of Fairfax have enacted protections for their renters. The cities of Novato and San Rafael also have protections for mobile home park tenants. If you do not reside in one of these areas, you may still have rent control and eviction protection under the new California state rent control laws.  

Unincorporated Marin County 

Tenants that live in a city or town located in unincorporated Marin County have eviction protection and have access to a mediation program for rent increase disputes.  There are dozens of cities and towns in the county that are unincorporated and covered under the county’s ordinances. 

The county’s Just Cause For Eviction Ordinance protects tenants from eviction unless there is a just-cause reason to terminate their tenancy under the law.  Just-cause reasons may be a for-fault reason or a no-fault reason. Some common for-fault reasons are that the tenant has not paid rent, has breached a lease term, or is causing a nuisance.  Owner move-in evictions (a landlord or their relative seeks to move into the unit) and Ellis Act evictions (the landlord desires to permanently remove the unit from the rental market) are common no-fault reasons for eviction.  It is important to know that, unlike other jurisdictions with eviction control ordinances, the county does not require relocation assistance to be paid to tenants that are evicted for a no-fault reason. 

Tenants should be aware that they do not have rent control in unincorporated Marin County. Instead, the Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Ordinance is a way for tenants to respond to a rent increase by initiating mediation to negotiate with their landlord.  Tenants that have received a rent increase above 5% in a twelve-month period are eligible for the dispute resolution services through this ordinance. 

Because unincorporated Marin County’s Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Ordinance is not a rent control ordinance that caps the amount that a tenant’s rent can be increased, the rent-ceiling protections of the State of California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“State Rent Control Law”) may apply.  The new State Rent Control Law applies to all units in the unincorporated areas of the county, which are not otherwise covered by a local rent control ordinance, if the building was built more than fifteen years ago, and as long as the unit meets all other requirements under the state’s law (most single family homes are not covered though).  Under the State Rent Control Law, a tenant’s rent may not be raised more than 5% plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the total amount not to exceed 10%.  This means that tenants in unincorporated Marin County who receive a rent increase above 5% but less than the state rent-cap amount should proceed with the county’s mediation process to resolve a rent increase dispute.  However, for tenants who receive rent increases that exceed the State Rent Control Law’s allowable maximum, the increase dispute will need to be resolved in court, not through the county’s mediation program. 

Tenants should speak with a tenant attorney and read our guide on the Unincorporated Marin County Rent Control laws to determine if their unit is in an area that is regulated by these ordinances and to understand their rights.

The Town of Fairfax and the City of San Rafael

Tenants in the Town of Fairfax and the City of San Rafael also have just-cause for eviction protections and have the right to contest certain rent increases through mediation.  

Fairfax and San Rafael have adopted eviction control laws that prohibit a landlord from terminating a tenancy unless they have a just-cause reason under the law to do so.  Both of these jurisdictions have for-fault and no-fault just-cause reasons to terminate a tenancy that are similar to those in unincorporated Marin County’s eviction ordinance.  And, neither Fairfax nor San Rafael require relocation assistance to be paid to tenants that are evicted through a no-fault reason. 

Additionally, tenants in both Fairfax and San Rafael have a right to pursue mediation through Marin County for rent increases of more than 5% in a twelve-month period.  Like areas in unincorporated Marin County, tenants in Fairfax and San Rafael should be aware that they do not have rent control that caps the amount their rent can be increased, but they may have rent-ceiling protections under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019. 

Tenants should speak with a tenant lawyer and read our guides on the Town of Fairfax Renter Protections  and San Rafael Rent Control to understand their rights in these jurisdictions.

City of Novato and City of San Rafael Mobile Home Park Tenant Rights

Because mobile homes are difficult to relocate and because most tenants in mobile home parks are on fixed incomes and often elderly, the California legislature has promulgated strict statutes protecting tenants from eviction.  Additionally, some jurisdictions such as the cities of Novato and San Rafael have enacted local rent control ordinances for tenants of mobile home parks

Tenants facing eviction from a mobile home park or who have received a rent increase above the allowable annual amount should speak with a mobile home tenant attorney to understand their rights.  You can reach us at 415-504-2165. 

State of California Rent and Eviction Control

If you do not live in one of the areas in Marin County that has tenant protections, you may be covered under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the state’s new rent and eviction control law, if your building is at least fifteen years old and your tenancy and unit meet all other requirements under the law.  Determining whether you are covered by the just-cause eviction protections and the rent increase limitations under the state’s law is a complicated analysis. Tenants should speak to a tenant lawyer and read our guide to determine whether they are covered under state law protections. 

All tenants in California should keep in mind that regardless of what city they live in, the state has many laws that protect tenants.  To learn more about some of the laws that protect tenants in California, please visit the following pages: Wrongful Eviction, Landlord Harassment and Retaliation, Landlord Entry, Housing Discrimination in California, Landlord’s Duty To Prevent Crime, and Forcing Your Landlord to Make Repairs

Tenants that have questions about their rights under local or state law should call Tobener Ravenscroft LLP to speak with an attorney.