A Guide to Rent Control in Alameda (City)

January 1, 2017

 PART I Overview:

This article is intended to provide owners and managers with information regarding Alameda’s new rent law (Ordinance 3148) and to answer several frequently asked questions about the Ordinance.

This is not a comprehensive summary of the entire rent control ordinance and should not be used in lieu of the complete text. Alameda Ordinance 3148 can be found online here. At the end of this brochure, we have compiled a list of FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) concerning Alameda’s new rent law.

Applicability

Alameda’s new rent control ordinance does not apply, in part, to the following types of buildings (i.e., these types of units are exempt):

 

  • Units constructed after February 1, 1995.

  • Rental units that are separately alienable from the title of any other dwelling (e.g., single family residences, condominium units, etc.).

  • Rental units exempt under Costa Hawkins.

  • Units exempt under any other applicable state or federal law.


PART II Rental Agreement:

When forming a rental agreement with a new or existing tenant you are required to provide certain documents and discourse on rent control in order to be in compliance with Alameda’s new rent law. On, or before, the day a tenant’s first rent payment is due, you must provide:

1. A written notice that the rental unit is subject to rent control.

This must be done for new and current tenants, for both one year lease tenants and month-to-month tenants. If a tenant is renewing a one year lease, notification must be given, in writing, no later than the day they make their first rent payment. For tenants renewing a month-to-month lease, this notification must be given no later than the day following the expiration of their first month of tenancy. For new tenants, this notification must be given upon offering of a lease.

You can find more information on written notices here.

2. A copy of Alameda Ordinance 3148.

You can find Ordinance 3148 here.


3. A copy of the current City Regulations promulgated to implement Alameda’s new rent law.

There are no regulations at this time, so Landlords do not need to provide these at this moment. Any future regulations will be posted here.

4. A copy of the current information brochure(s) that the City of Alameda provides explaining Ordinance 3148.

You can find the current brochure here.


5. An offer of a one year lease.

All prospective tenants must be offered a 12 month lease. Existing tenants must be offered a 12 month lease, one time, when given their next rent increase notice.

PART III Rent Increases:

Alameda’s new rent control ordinance (Ord. 3148) took effect March 31, 2016, replacing Ordinance 3140. The previous ordinance was changed to regulate rent increases above 5%.

Although rental property owners are entitled to raise a tenant’s rent above 5% (i.e., there is no cap on rent increases), Landlords must provide notice to their tenants of their right to request a review of the rent increase, along with the forms listed in Part II of this brochure.

1. For a rent increase at or below 5% a Landlord must provide a RP-02 form to the tenant.

The RP-02 form can be found here.

2. For a rent increase above 5% a Landlord must provide the tenant with a RP-03 form and file a RP-04 form with the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda’s Program Administrator within 15 days of the serving of the rent increase notice.

Both the RP-03 and RP-04 forms can be found here.

The review/hearing is a mediation before Alameda’s Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC). Both the tenant and a Landlord with an ownership interest in the property must be present at the hearing in order for the RRAC to review the case. A tenant’s request for a review of a rent increase at or below 5% is non-binding. Landlords are only required to request a RRAC review for rent increases above 5%. RRAC decisions resulting from a Landlord’s request for review of a rent increase above 5% are binding if not petitioned within 15 days of the RRAC’s decision.* After the RRAC hearing, if either party files a petition, the two parties must go before a Hearing Officer, or a court of competent jurisdiction, to reach a settlement.** The decision of the Hearing Officer or court is final and binding unless judicial review is sought within 60 days.

* This is only true for non-exempt units. If a landlord or tenant disagree with the RRAC decision in regard to an exempt unit, the decision is non-binding.

** For exempt units (See section 6-58.135 of Alameda Ordinance 3148), the RRAC’s decision is non-binding. Any petition must be filed within 7 calendar days of the RRAC’s decision. It will then go before the Alameda City Council for review. This will not delay the effective date of the rent increase. After the City Council has reviewed the RRAC’s decision, they will issue a non-binding recommendation under the Mayor’s signature.

3. Only one rent increase may be given within a 12 month period.

PART IV Notice to Vacate (Termination of Tenancy):

Alameda’s new rent law lists the following as “just causes” for eviction.

 

  1. Notice to Vacate (“no cause”)***

  2. Failure to Pay Rent

  3. Breach of Lease

  4. Nuisance

  5. Failure to Give Access

  6. Owner Move-In

  7. Demolition

  8. Capital Improvement Plan

  9. Withdrawal from the Rental Market

  10. Compliance with Government Order


All notices terminating tenancy must state one of these grounds.

*** “No cause” evictions in buildings with 5+ units can only be used on 10% of the units in any one month, and no more than 25% in any given 12 month period. Buildings with 4 or less units can only enact a “no cause” eviction once in any 12 month period.

PART V Relocation:

If a Landlord terminates a tenancy for causes 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and/or 10 a relocation fee must be paid. The fee is calculated as follows:

1 month’s rent (averaged over the past 12 months) for each year the tenant has occupied the unit (up to 4 years) + $1500.

If there is more than one tenant on the lease, each tenant shall receive a pro rata share of the relocation fee. 50% of the relocation fee must be payed at the time the tenant(s) notifies the Landlord in writing of the day of departure. The other 50% must be payed upon certification that the rental unit has been vacated.****

**** The Landlord’s relocation fee payment will be reduced by one month’s rent for every month, or portion thereof, for which the tenant remains in the rental unit past the termination day.

PART VI FAQs:

1. If my unit is exempt do I still have to comply with Alameda’s new rent law?

Yes, in that you have to file an RRAC review for a rent increase above 5%.

No, in that the decision of the RRAC is non-binding for both Landlord initiated reviews and tenant initiated reviews.

2. I want to sell my property. Do I have to inform the buyers that the units are covered by rent control?

Yes. Such disclosure must be made prior to the close of escrow and be available to the city. Former owners must keep such disclosure for the future.

3. How long of a notice do I have to give for a rent increase above 5%?

For a rent increase of 10% or less, a Landlord must give their tenant 30 days’ notice. For a rent increase above 10%, Landlord must give their tenant 60 days’ notice.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Fried & Williams LLP. All Rights Reserved. The information in this article is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. For any specific matter, please consult with an attorney.

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