Rent Increase Review Process
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Who reviews the rent increase?
Rental units that are not exempt under Costa Hawkins (such as multi-family units built before February 1995) and have rent increase notices with an effective date of September 2, 2019 or later, are subject to the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) as laid out in Ordinance 3246. The AGA will be determined each April and will be equal to 70% of the change in the Consumer Price Index.
Under Ordinance 3246, landlords who wish to increase the rent beyond the amount allowed by the AGA may file a petition with the Rent Stabilization Program to initiate a hearing that will be administered by a hearing officer. The landlord petition will be available to enable landlords to obtain a fair rate of return on their property.
Ordinance 3246 also allows tenants to file a petition for a decrease in rent if they have experienced a reduction in housing services. This petition is also reviewed by a hearing officer.
Tenant and landlord petitions and updated program materials will soon be made available online.
Please see Ordinance 3246 for additional information on the new rent increase regulations.
The Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) will continue to review rent increases for rental units that are exempt under Costa Hawkins (single family homes and condos). Landlords and tenants of these units should continue to follow the procedures that were established under Ordinance 3148 on March 31, 2016. The Committee is made up of five volunteers: two landlords, two tenants, and one homeowner. Members are Alameda residents appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.
Can a RRAC hearing be canceled if the parties reach an agreement?
Any review hearing will be canceled if the parties reach an agreement before the date of the review, but only if a proper rent increase notice has been served on the tenant and filed with the program when the increase exceeds 5 percent.
File the Landlord & Tenant Acknowledgement of Agreement Form RP-05 and the hearing will be canceled. If an agreement is reached and Form RP-05 is submitted more than one week prior to the scheduled hearing, the documents regarding the increase will not be published online.
Free, private mediation services are available in the City of Alameda. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact staff. Click here to learn more about mediation.
RRAC common criteria under consideration include, but are not limited to:
1. The frequency, amount and presence or absences of prior rent increases
Example: history of rent increases.
2. The landlord's costs of operation
Examples: repair costs, property taxes, etc.
3. Any increases or decreases in housing services since the last rent increase
Examples: maintenance resulting in a change in housing services, changes in lease provisions.
4. The financial impact on the tenant - CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Example: ability to pay rent.
5. The landlord's interest in earning a just and reasonable rate of return on the property - CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Example: net operating income (minus debt and taxes).
The Rent Review Advisory Committee does not provide legal advice. Each landlord and tenant is responsible for seeking the advice of legal counsel on any matters or document related to their specific circumstances.
Attendance at the RRAC hearing
When the rent increase offer is 5% or less, the tenant and a landlord with the authority to make decisions and enter into binding agreements must attend.
When the rent increase offer is in excess of 5%, the tenant and the landlord with an ownership interest in the property must attend.
Individuals are welcome to bring an advocate, but the tenant and landlord must also attend.
RRAC hearing process
Initial submission: Documents submitted for the rent increase review will be shared with the affected parties.
One week prior to the scheduled RRAC hearing: If the landlord and the tenant have not reached a written agreement about the rent increase at least one week prior to the RRAC meeting date, the item will be placed on the RRAC agenda. RRAC members receive a copy of the agenda as well as all paperwork and supportive documents submitted by the tenant and landlord.
At the hearing: The landlord and tenant must be in attendance. RRAC members allow the tenant and landlord to voice their priorities and concerns. The members may ask clarifying questions and encourage communication between the tenant and landlord. If parties reach an agreement during the RRAC process, the rent increase becomes effective as the parties have agreed. If there is no agreement, the RRAC will make a decision concerning the rent increase based on the information provided by both parties.
RRAC decisions: BINDING: The decision is binding when, 1) the original rent increase notice exceeded 5%; and 2) the unit is located at a multi-unit property built before Feb. 1995; and 3) neither party has filed a timely petition for a Rent Dispute Hearing Officer to hear the rent increase. ADVISORY: The decision is advisory when, 1) the original rent increase notice was equal to or less than 5%; or 2) the original rent increase notice exceeded 5% and the unit is a single-family home, condominium, or located at a multi-unit property built after Feb. 1995.
Is there an appeal process if I disagree with the RRAC decision?
Yes. A tenant or landlord disagrees with a RRAC decision they can petition to a hearing officer or request a referral to City Council.
PETITIONS TO A HEARING OFFICER: Tenants and landlords can petition when 1) the original rent increase notice exceeded 5%; and 2) the unit is located at a multi-unit property built before Feb. 1995. The Hearing Officer, a qualified individual hired by the City Attorney's Office, issues a binding decision after reviewing the case. If no petition is filed, the RRAC decision is binding.
REFERRALS TO CITY COUNCIL: Tenants and landlords can request a referral when 1) the original rent increase notice was equal to or less than 5%; or 2) the original rent increase notice exceeded 5% and the unit is a single-family home, condominium, or located at a multi-unit property built after Feb. 1995.
When does a rent increase above 5% take effect?
When the unit is a single-family home, condominium, or located at a multi-unit property built after Feb. 1995, the rent increase will go into effect on the date stated in the notice of the rent increase. Even if the rent increase has already gone into effect, the landlord (who must have ownership interest in the unit) must attend the RRAC hearing. If the landlord fails to attend, the rent increase will be voided.
When the unit is a multi-family rental unit for which a certificate of occupancy was issued before Feb. 1995, regardless of the date stated in the notice of the rent increase, the rent increase will become effective only on 1) the date on which the tenant and landlord agree (either before the RRAC hearing or at the RRAC hearing); or 2) the effective date of the rent increase stated in the RRAC decision if neither party files a timely petition to have a Rent Dispute Hearing Officer determine the amount of the rent increase; or 3) sixty (60) days after a Rent Dispute Hearing Officer determines the rent increase, if a timely petition has been filed following the RRAC decision, unless there is a legal challenge to the Hearing Officer’s decision.
Who is the Rent Dispute Hearing Officer and what does the Hearing Officer consider in making a decision?
Rent Dispute Hearing Officers are attorneys who have knowledge and experience in deciding rent control issues.
The Ordinance sets forth in detail what factors the Hearing Officer is to take into account in deciding a rent increase. These include: the frequency, amount and the presence or absence of prior rent increases; a landlord’s “cost of operation”; increases or decreases in housing services; the purpose of the Ordinance to eliminate imposing excessive rent increases; and the landlord’s interest in earning a just and reasonable return on the landlord’s property. See Sections 6-58.125 and 6-58.85 B., Alameda Municipal Code.
Rent reviews are public
All written information submitted to the Rent Stabilization Program is considered a public record and must be disclosed if a member of the public requests the information under the State Public Records Act and/or the City’s Sunshine Ordinance. In some cases, however, the City Attorney may determine that the individual’s right to privacy significantly outweighs the public’s right to have the information disclosed, in which case the information will not be released. That determination is made on a case-by-case basis.
Documents submitted for rent increase review will have some personal information, such as tenant phone numbers and email addresses redacted. Unless the parties have reached a written agreement concerning the rent increase one week before the online agenda is published, the submitted forms, as redacted, are published in the online agenda.
The RRAC hearing is open to the public and the meetings are recorded. Audio recordings and meeting minutes are made available online.
Access to RRAC agendas and meetings
All RRAC agendas and meetings are open to the public. Accessible seating for persons with disabilities is available at the RRAC meetings. Documents prepared for the meeting are available in enlarged print, upon request. Sign language interpreters are also available on request. Please contact staff at (510) 747-4346 at least 72 hours before the meeting for such requests or any other reasonable accommodations that may be necessary to participate in and enjoy the benefits of the meeting.
Click here for a list of upcoming RRAC meetings. The agenda for the meeting is posting 7 calendar days in advance of the meeting.
Current members on the RRAC
Interested in becoming a RRAC member? Please click here for more information.