Team Onerent

While they all have the same basic goal, the nuances of the various rent control ordinances in California vary from city to city. With that in mind, this Bay Area rent control cheat sheet covers the highlights of each city’s ordinance on a county-by-county basis. Cities with regulations in place at the time of the development of this compilation are listed below. In other words, if your city isn’t listed, it didn’t have rent control when this edition of the Bay Area cheat sheet was assembled.

Possibly unfamiliar terms you’ll encounter in the guide include:

Banked Increases 
In some cities, landlords are allowed to put off annual increases for a set number of years and impose the accumulated increase all at once. Say for example, the cap is set a five percent per year, but a landlord waits two years to impose the cap—they can legally raise the rent by 10 percent the second year. Keep in mind though, banked increases are usually capped to a set number of increases and a set number of years to keep the accumulated increase from getting out of hand.

Good Cause (or For Cause)
Landlords are permitted to evict tenants proven to be in violation of some aspect of their lease agreement. When this results in a vacancy, the rent for that unit can usually be reset to the current market value.

No Cause (or No Fault)
In some cities, landlords can evict tenants at will under certain circumstances, even if the tenant is in good standing as far as the lease is concerned. However, to prevent landlords from doing this just to raise rents, No Cause terminations usually nullify the rule allowing landlords to reset rents to current market value when vacancies occur.

If a tenant has an issue with an edict issued by a landlord, whether it’s a rent increase, a change in a lease agreement or any other policy; they can request a hearing before a designated group of three people. This includes a landlord, a tenant and another individual falling into neither category.

It should also be noted this guide refers specifically to Rent Control as it applies to apartments. However, most of the cities in the nine Bay Area counties with mobile home parks enforce some form of Rent Control for the pads upon which those mobile homes rest.

"While this article discusses legal matters, it should not be construed as legal advice. If you need specific information regarding Rent Control ordinances, contact an attorney familiar with your city’s regulations in this regard."


Alameda County

Alameda rent increases are limited to one each year. While there is no cap on increases, amounts above five percent are subject to review by Alameda’s Rent Review Advisory Committee. Tenants may request mediation for increases of any amount. For Cause evictions on the grounds of non-payment or breach of lease are permitted. New tenants can then be charged current market rates. No Fault evictions are also permitted, however relocation fees must be provided to the tenant and the rent offered to subsequent tenants can only be five percent greater than the evicted tenant’s.

Albany is considering rent review with a focus on mediation rather than control.

Berkeley increases are limited to one each year and the amount is governed by Berkeley’s Annual General Adjustment, which is 65 percent of the Consumer Price Index for the metropolitan Bay Area. The ordinance covers multi-unit properties built before June 1980, single-family homes with tenants who moved in prior to 1996 and single-family homes with five or more rooms rented with separate leases. Evictions are only permitted for one of the city’s good causes. Tenants in covered properties have a right to collect interest on security deposits.

Emeryville enforces just cause evictions for condo conversion, failure to pay rent, criminal activity and/or other breaches of the lease agreement. No fault evictions are permitted, with relocation assistance from the landlord in an amount five times the most current fair market rents as published annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Oakland-Fremont, California HUD Metro FMR Area in the Federal Register, or four times the monthly rent that the tenant(s) is paying at the time the Notice of Termination is delivered, whichever amount is greater.

Fremont has mediation only.

Hayward increases are limited to one each year with a cap set at five percent, unless a documented request for a higher increase is presented to the rent board. Landlords may “bank” increases and go to 10 percent in one year if no increase was imposed the previous year. New tenants can be brought in at current market rates—if improvement requirements are met. Landlords can refuse to renew leases at the end of a contract and bring in new tenants. If a landlord plans to do so, tenants must be afforded 60 days notice if they’ve lived there for more than a year—30 days if less than a year.

Newark caps rent increases at four percent per year for buildings with 50 or more units and five percent for buildings with less than 50.The rent board must approve larger increases. Existing owner-occupied one-, two-, three- and four-family dwellings are exempt. Newly constructed one-, two- and three-family dwellings are exempt for five years, if the landlord receives an exemption from the Rent Control Board prior to offering the property for rent. Newly constructed dwellings of four or more units are exempt for 30 years. All public housing is exempt.

Oakland increases can only be imposed once each year and are capped at 10 percent. Increases can be “banked” for up to ten years. Just cause evictions are enforced, and include justifications such as non-payment of rent and illegal activities, Owners can move in to displace a tenant, unless the tenant is 60 years old or older, disabled, or catastrophically ill. Properties built after January 1, 1983, government subsidized rentals, single-family homes and condominiums are exempt.

San Leandro requires reviews for increases exceeding seven percent and for landlords requesting more than one increase within a 12-month period. To be eligible for a review, the unit must be in a parcel with at least two tenant-occupied residences. Rented mobile homes are also eligible for review. Single-family homes, condominiums and town homes are exempt.

Union City has eviction and harassment protections, as well as mediation.


Contra Costa County

Concord is currently considering a rent review/mediation program.

Richmond limits rent increases to the metropolitan Bay Area Consumer Price Index. Owners can petition for a higher increase, but the Rent Control Board must approve them. Just cause evictions are in effect. Owners may move into a unit to retake possession, however the elderly (defined as 62+), disabled and terminally ill are protected from eviction on these grounds. 


Marin County

No apartment Rent Control ordinances are in effect in any municipality.


Napa County

No apartment Rent Control ordinances are in effect in any municipality.


San Francisco County

San Francisco rent controlled properties are those initially occupied prior to 1979. Most San Francisco single-family homes and condos are exempt. For 2017, the annual allowable rent increase is 2.2 percent for the year. Capital improvements or unanticipated maintenance can merit rent increases, but San Francisco’s Rent Board must approve them. Rents can be raised to match the current market rate when tenants move out. However, just cause rules are in place to prevent landlords from evicting long-term tenants to abuse this.


San Mateo County

East Palo Alto limits rent increases to one annually, of 10 percent or less unless property is covered under Rent Stabilization Ordinance. If unit is covered under rent control, the maximum allowable annual increase is 80% of the CPI (Consumer Price Index) which is 2.4% AGA as of 2016. The Rent Board must approve larger increases. Landlords can bank up to three increases during a tenant’s occupancy, but they must notify tenants when they are doing so. Single-family homes, duplexes, in-law units and condominiums are exempt. Just cause rules limit evictions to tenants who fail to pay rent or are found to be involved in criminal activity, or some other violation of the lease agreement.

Pacifica is close to implementing an ordinance tying rent increases to the Bay Area’s Consumer Price Index, which currently stands at 3.4 percent. Under the ordinance, property owners will have to seek approval to increase rents by up to 10 percent each year on a case-by-case basis. Single-family homes, duplexes, in-law units and condominiums will be exempt. Evictions will be limited to tenants who are proven to be in violation of some aspect of their lease agreement.


Santa Clara County

Campbell has mediation.

Los Gatos has mediation.

Mountain View is close to implementing Rent Control for all apartment units occupied before February 1, 1995. Rents in the city will be rolled back to October, 2015 levels. Any new construction in Mountain View will be exempt, as will all single-family residences, duplexes, condominiums and apartments occupied on or after February 1, 1995. Evictions will be limited to tenants who are found to be in violation of some aspect of their lease agreement. Rent increases will be restricted each year to between two and five percent, based upon increases in the Consumer Price Index of the metropolitan Bay Area.

San José rent controlled properties include apartments with three or more units, built and occupied prior to September 7, 1979. Single-family homes, condos, town homes, in-law units, duplexes, and properties in unincorporated areas of the city are exempt. Rent increases may be imposed once in a 12-month period. The current maximum allowable increase is five percent and the city’s Rent Board must approve larger increases. However, the City Council is exploring the possibility of tying rent increases to the metropolitan Bay Area Consumer Price Index, as well as declaring duplexes non-exempt. Rents may be raised to current market rates upon lawful vacancies and evictions must be for cause.


Solano County

No apartment Rent Control ordinances are in effect in any municipality.


Sonoma County

Santa Rosa has passed a law to institute rent control. However it has been opposed and will go up for vote in a special election on June 6, 2017.

Sebastopol has a temporary rent-hike cap in place until May of 2017. The cap applies to muilti-family complexes occupied prior to February 1995. Increases are capped at three percent annually. The city is also reviewing just cause eviction stipulations.

Healdsburg has drafted a set of nonbinding guidelines, suggesting landlords limit increases to a maximum of 10 percent annually; provide 90 days of notice prior to a rent increase; and spread the cost recovery of improvements over a period of at least four years.

If you are still confused about your local and county rent control laws and want to see how much your property is worth, schedule a rent analysis to learn more:

lease your own property onerent rent estimate 2

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