FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Updated 10.08.19

Click on the topic you'd like to learn about


Program Administration

Who is administering the Rent Program?

The Housing Authority of the City of Alameda, through a services contract with the City of Alameda, administers the Rent Program.  Click here to sign up for the program e-newsletter to stay informed.

Unit Types and Exemptions

What units are subject to the current Rent Ordinance 3249?

There are Fully Regulated Units and Partially Regulated Units under Ordinance 3249.

Fully Regulated Units - Multi-unit properties built prior to February 1, 1995.

A multi-unit property has two or more units on a legal lot of record, even if a property owner lives in one of the units. However, if the second unit is an approved accessory dwelling unit, the property may be subject to different regulations (see below).

Partially Regulated Units - Single-family homes, condominiums, multi-unit properties built after to February 1, 1995. A permitted accessory dwelling unit on the same lot as a single-family home is a Partially Regulated Unit.

Does the Ordinance apply to single-family homes or condominiums?

In part. Owners of rented single-family homes and condominiums are subject to all requirements of the Ordinance concerning terminations of tenancy and must provide relocation payments to tenants who are displaced for no fault of their own. Such owners must also pay the annual program fee and submit annual registration. The requirements concerning notices of rent increases are described in the Rent Increase section below.

Are there rental units in the City of Alameda that are not subject at all to the Ordinance?

Yes, see section 6-58.20, Ordinance 3249. Below is a summary of the units that are not subject to any provisions of Ordinance 3249:

  • Dwelling Units, regardless of ownership, for which the rents are subsidized or regulated by federal law or by regulatory agreements between a Landlord and (i) the City, (ii) the Housing Authority or (iii) any agency of the State of California or the Federal Government; provided, however, if the Dwelling Unit is in the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program and is not owned by a public entity or a bonafide not for profit organization dedicated to the provision of affordable housing, as further defined by regulations, the Dwelling Unit is exempt only as to the rent control provisions of the Ordinance. If a Dwelling Unit no longer qualifies for the full or partial exemption under this subsection A, for example, the Landlord withdraws from a subsidy program or a regulatory agreement expires and/or is not renewed, the Dwelling Unit will immediately be subject to all provisions of the Ordinance

  • Dwelling Units owned by the Housing Authority

  • Dwelling Units rented or leased for 30 consecutive days or less (month to month rental agreements do not apply)

  • Rooms in hotels, motels, inns, tourist homes, short-term rentals, boarding houses, provided the occupants do not reside in the unit for more than 30 consecutive days

  • Commercial units, such as commercial storage units

  • Hospitals, convents, monasteries, extended care facilities, convalescent homes, homes for the aged, or dormitories operated by an educational institution

  • Rooms in a facility that provide a menu of services, such as case management

  • Mobile homes

  • Houseboats

  • Community cabins

  • Dwelling Units in which the landlords owns the rental unit, occupies the rental unit as the landlord’s primary residence and shares kitchen or bath facilities with one or more tenants

  • Any part of a dwelling unit in which a tenant has allowed or permitted a person to use or occupy such part, but that person does not meet the definition of a Tenant as defined by the Ordinance

Room rental.PNG

Will this Ordinance apply to me if I am renting a room in a single-family home?

Usually no, but there are limited exceptions. Please contact the Rent Program for more information.

Is a landlord required to rent to a tenant participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Program?

A landlord may establish criteria for determining to whom they rent, so long as the criteria does not discriminate against protected classes, including source of income. Accordingly, it is not lawful to have criteria that bans tenants with a Section 8 voucher.  See Ordinance 3251.  

Rent Registry

 Are landlords now required to register their rental units with the Rent Program and, if so, how often?

Landlords will be required to register each rental unit with the Rent Program annually.  In addition, for landlords of multi-family rental units built before February 1995, landlords must update the registration information with the Rent Program when there is a change in tenancy and/or a change in ownership.

Rental Property Sales

Buying or selling a dwelling unit that has been or will be rented in Alameda?

If you are buying or selling a rental unit, it is important that you are aware that the Rent Ordinance may may apply. A new owner may be held responsible for a prior owner's violations of the Rent Ordinances, and future rents may be restricted by reason of these regulations.

Below are a few reminders to ensure compliance with City of Alameda's rent related Ordinances.

  • Inform prospective purchasers about Ordinance No. 3249, 3148, 3140, 3143, 3131 and related regulations

    • Disclose the existence of these Ordinances and the City's Rent Program in the disclosure statement for any property listed for sale, even if the property is not currently a rental. 

    • Additional informational materials are available at www.alamedarentprogram.org.  

  • Obtain the rental history of the unit since October 1, 2015 (date of first Ordinance No. 3131)

    • Request documentation that tenants renting on March 31, 2016 (when the Ordinance went into effect) were informed about Ordinance 3148 and that tenants whose tenancies started after March 31, 2016 were also informed of the Ordinance.

    • Request copies of all notices of rental increases and notices of all terminations of tenancies, for any rent increase or termination of tenancy since - October 1, 2015.

    • Verify that any rent increases or termination of tenancies were done in compliance with the Ordinance(s). (You are welcome to contact Rent Program staff (rrac@alamedahsg.org) but you will need to provide copies of the documents in order for staff to review. Please allow a 10-day turn around.

    • For in-place tenants, understand whether the tenancy is under a lease or is month-to-month and, in particular, determine whether the tenant was on a month-to-month tenancy as of March 31, 2016 and whether there has been a rent increase in compliance with the Ordinance since that time.

    • Request information about any tenants currently subject to a notice of a rent increase or termination of tenancy.

    • If there is an onsite manager or other renter who receives a discount for services provided, understand and document the nature of that arrangement. 

  • Understand that prior rent increases and termination of certain tenancies may have financial consequences

    • A new owner may be held financially responsible for a prior owner's violations of Ordinances 3148, 3140 3143, and 3131.  This could include reimbursing tenants improperly charged rents and/or reducing rents raised illegally.

    • Relocation payments may be due if a tenant's tenancy was improperly terminated or the amount of the relocation payment was less than required by the Ordinance.

    • A property may not be rented for a number of years if it has been the subject of an eviction on grounds of a "Withdrawal from the Rental Market" and will be subject to a number of qualifying restrictions.

    • Other terminations of tenancy, such as for an approved "Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)", may restrict rent increases.

  • Ensure any rental property is properly registered with the City 

    • Obtain proof that the rental unit has been registered with the Rent Program and that the annual housing program fee has been paid. This can be verified with the City Finance Department at 510-747-4881 or finance@alamedaca.gov

Privacy Concerns

How much information remains private when I contact the Rent Program with questions about a rent increase or a notice to terminate my tenancy, or submit information to the Rent Program concerning these issues?

The answer depends. Generally, written information submitted to the Rent Program is considered a public record and must be disclosed if a member of the public requests the information under the State’s 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 of disclosure, in which case the information will not be released. That determination is made on a case-by-case basis.

Data concerning rent increases and terminations are available in monthly reports online. This information does not disclose the names of tenants or landlords.

What personal information is made public when a landlord or tenant has requested a review of the rent increase?

Some personal information, such as tenant phone numbers and email addresses, will be redacted. Unless the parties have reached a written agreement concerning the rent increase one week before the online RRAC agenda is published, the submitted forms, as redacted, are published in the online RRAC agenda.

All written information submitted to the Rent 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.

Are the RRAC meetings recorded?

Yes. Audio recordings and approved RRAC meeting minutes are available online: www.alamedarentprogram.org/rrac-archive


Rent Increase Overview

How often may the rent be increased?

Only one rent increase may be imposed within any 12-month period for all rental units.

Is there a cap on the amount of a rent increase?

All multi-family properties built before February 1995 are subject to a cap on the amount of a rent increase. Each year, the rent may only increase by the Annual General Adjustment (AGA), calculated at 70% of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending April of each year; provided, however, in no event will the Annual General Adjustment be more than 5% nor less than 1 percent. All other rental units are not subject to a cap, but currently must adhere to the requirements under the Rent Review Advisory Committee process. See below for more information.

What is the current Annual General Adjustment?

Ordinance 3249 limits rent increases that are effective after September 1, 2019 to no more than 2.8%. The maximum rent increase for each subsequent year will be calculated based on 70% of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending April of each year; provided, however, in no event will the Annual General Adjustment be more than 5% nor less than 1 percent.

How will I learn about the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) for each year?

By no later than May 31st of each year, staff at the Rent Program will provide that information; the AGA will be effective September 1st of that year.

How will I learn what the maximum allowable rent is for my specific unit?

The Ordinance has established the “base rent” as the rent charged as of September 1, 2019 or the rent charged on the first date of tenancy if the tenancy starts after September 1, 2019. The maximum allowable rent is the “base rent” increased by the AGA. The allowable rent, however may be less than the maximum allowable rent if the rent has not raised by the AGA and the unused portion is “banked”.

Tenants will annually receive a letter that indicates the maximum allowable rent for their unitor, if AGA has been banked, a letter that indicates what the “certified rent” is. If tenants disagree with either of these amounts, they may appeal the decision through the Rent Program staff. See below for more information.

 When do the requirements to adhere to the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) become effective for multi-family properties built before February 1995?

Rent increases that are effective after September 1, 2019 are subject to the AGA.

 May a rent be increased above the Annual General Adjustment (AGA)?

For multi-family properties built before February 1995, rent may only be increased above the AGA under the following circumstances:

-     The landlord has increased the rent less than the AGA in one or more years and has “banked” the unused portion of the AGA. In a subsequent year, this “banked” amount may be imposed on top of the AGA provided the landlord adheres to the “banking” requirements. See below for more information.

-     The landlord may increase the rent above the AGA if the landlord is approved for a higher increase through an approved Capital Improvement Plan Review the Capital Improvement Plan Policy for more information.

-     The landlord may petition to increase the rent above the AGA in order to receive a fair rate of return. These petitions will be reviewed by a hearing officer who will issue a binding decision concerning the allowable rent increase. See below for more information.

May a landlord and tenant agree to a rent increase above the AGA?

No.

Are there any requirements for noticing a rent increase that is at or less than the Annual General Adjustment?

All notices of a rent increase, whether the rent increase is equal to or less than the Annual General Adjustment, must be served on the tenant as provided by State law.

Petitions on Rent Amounts

 How does a landlord petition for an upward adjustment in the maximum allowable rent?

A landlord may petition for an upward adjustment in the maximum allowable rent if the landlord believes an increase is necessary to provide a fair rate of return. The landlord has the burden of proof and may provide any documentation or evidence the landlord believes supports the petition along with completed forms provided by the Rent Program. Click here for more information on fair rate of return. Hearing officers hear petitions and issue binding decisions.

If a landlord intends to make Capital Improvements, as defined, to the rental property for which the landlord would like to increase the rent above the Annual General Adjustment, the landlord may submit a Capital Improvement Plan to the Rent Program. If the Plan is approved, the Rent Program staff will determine what the allowable maximum rent increase will be based on a formula set forth in the Capital Improvement Plan Policy. Please click here to learn more about the Capital Improvement Plans.

 What does Base Rent Year mean?

The Base Rent Year is calendar year 2015; the calendar year before the City first adopted comprehensive rent control regulations.  It is presumed that the net operating income received by the landlord in the Base Rent Year provided the landlord with a fair return on property.

 Does the tenant have the ability to request a reduction in the rent?

Yes. A tenant may request a reduction in the rent based on the following: 1) The tenant may request a reduction in rent if the tenant believes the rent has been miscalculated, such as the landlord has reported incorrectly the base rent for the unit or has not calculated the maximum allowable rent correctly applying the AGA; 2) The tenant may file a petition to lower the rent based on a reduction in housing serves. Examples of housing services include parking, laundry services, allowing pets, etc.

 What is the process for a tenant to petition to lower the rent based on a reduction in housing services?

A tenant may file a petition for a downward adjustment in the maximum allowable rent if the tenant believes there has been a reduction in housing services. The tenant has the burden of proof and must provide documentation or other evidence to support their petition. A Hearing Officers will hear the petition and issue a binding decision.

 Is a landlord required to increase the rent by the full amount of the Annual General Adjustment (AGA)?

For multi-family rental properties built before 1995, a landlord may choose to raise the rent less than the AGA. Any amount of the AGA that is not imposed in one year may be “banked” and used in subsequent years provided the landlord imposes the banked AGAs in compliance with the “banking” limitations.

Banking Rent Increases

 What does it mean to “bank” a rent increase?

“Banking” permits a landlord to carry-over any unused portion of the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) to a subsequent year. There are limitations on how a “banked” AGA may be imposed in a subsequent year.

 What are the limitations on “banking” rent increases?

A landlord who raises rent less than the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) has “banked” the AGA that is not used. A landlord may increase rent above the AGA in a subsequent year by imposing “banked” AGAs in addition to the current year’s AGA, provided the landlord adheres to the following requirements:

-    The maximum rent increase using “banked” AGAs is equal to the current year’s AGA plus no more than three percent.

-    A landlord must file with the Rent Program a notice that the landlord has imposed a “banked” AGA.

-    A landlord may not bank more than eight percent. 

-    A landlord may not impose “banked” AGA in consecutive years.

-    A landlord may not impose “banked” AGA more than three times in any one tenancy.

-    “Banked” AGA from a prior tenancy cannot be imposed on new tenants; i.e, if a tenant vacates a rental unit and the landlord has banked AGA, the banked AGA may not be imposed on the new tenant.

-    “Banked” AGA cannot be transferred to a new owner when a property is sold.

 Which rental units are required to be registered with the Rent Program?

Landlords must register all rental units with the Rent Program annually.

 What are the annual registration requirements?

  • Multi-family rental properties built before February 1995 are subject to the following requirements:

-    Base rent and a list of housing services must be registered with the first registration.

-    Annually, landlords must report the current rent and the date and amount of any rent increases since the previous registration.

-    When there is a change in tenancy, the landlord must register the new base rent within 30 days of establishing the new tenancy.

-    When a property is sold, the landlord must register the rents at time of sale.

  • Single-family homes, condominiums and multi-family properties built after February 1995 are subject to the following requirements:

-    Landlords must report the rent at the time of the first registration

-    Annually, landlords must report the current rent and the date and amount of the rent increases since the previous registration.

What is the purpose of the rent registry and who has access to information in the rent registry?

  • The rent registry will be used to send annual letters to tenants in each rental unit informing the tenants of the maximum allowable rent for that unit.

  • Landlords will have online access to submit and review registration information only for the rental units they own.

  • All information in the rent registry, other than owner and tenant contact information, is subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act.

Rent Increase Notice Requirements

What information concerning the Rent Program needs to be attached to the notice of a rent increase?

Full Regulated Units (Multi-family rental properties built before February 1995) are not required to include any attachments to the rent increase notices when the amount of the increase is equal to or less than the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). A landlord must include specific text in any notice of rent increase that exceeds the AGA when the landlord is imposing “banked” AGAs in addition to the AGA. Such notices must also be filed with the Rent Program.

All rental units must adhere to the following notice requirements, in addition to state law, for a rent increase above 10 percent. The notice must (i) inform the tenants of their entitlement to a permanent relocation payment if the tenant chooses to vacate within 90 days of receiving the rent increase notice; (ii) be filed with the Rent Program within 3 days of serving a tenant with such increase.

Requirements for Temporary Relocation

Temporary relocation payments are owed when (1) the landlord takes action to terminate a tenancy temporarily; or (2) when the tenant has temporarily vacated the rental unit (i) in compliance with a governmental agency’s order to vacate; (ii) due to health and safety conditions, as defined; or (iii) as part of an approved Capital Improvement Plan. A landlord must use Form RP-207, fill out the notice, sign the Landlord declaration and serve the Tenant with the notice. For temporary terminations of tenancy, the Landlord must serve the notice in Form RP-207 concurrently with, and in the same manner as, the notice to terminate the tenancy temporarily. When a Tenant vacates the Rental Unit following a governmental order to vacate or due to Health or Safety Conditions, the Landlord must serve the Tenant with the notice in Form RP-207 within three business days of the Tenant’s vacating the Rental Unit.

Per diem temporary relocation payments

For the first 60 days from the date the Tenant vacates the Rental Unit, the Landlord shall make Temporary Relocation Payments to the Tenant until the Tenant re-occupies the unit within seven calendar days after the Landlord has informed the Tenant in writing that the repairs have been made or the Health and Safety Conditions eliminated and the Tenant may re-occupy the Rental Unit. Applicable Temporary Relocation Payments shall be calculated on a daily basis and paid at least on a weekly basis. A Tenant continues to pay rent to the Landlord while receiving Temporary Relocation Payments.

Rent differential payments

If the work necessary to comply with the governmental order or to correct the Health of Safety Conditions takes longer than 60 days to complete, the Landlord shall make Rent Differential Payments to the Tenant until either the work is completed and the Tenant re-occupies the rental unit within seven calendar days after the Landlord informs the Tenant in writing that the Rental Unit may be re-occupied, or the Tenant finds alternative, permanent housing. A Tenant shall not pay Rent to the Landlord while receiving a Rent Differential Payment.

The Rent Differential Payment is calculated by subtracting the lawful rent the Tenant is paying at the time the Tenant vacated the Rental Unit from the Fair Market Rent, based on the number of bedrooms in the Rental Unit from which the Tenant has been displaced. If the Fair Market Rent is less than the lawful rent paid by the Tenant, then no Rent Differential Payment is required.

See Form RP-207 for more information

Is there a minimum length of time that a tenant must be temporarily relocated before a temporary relocation payment is required?

No.  A tenant is entitled immediately to a temporary relocation payment if the tenant must vacate a rental unit due to a governmental order to vacate or because of conditions in the rental unit that are “Health and Safety Conditions”, as defined in section 6.58.15.S, Alameda Municipal Code.

If a tenant is temporarily relocated and gets accommodations at an extended stay hotel that includes kitchen facilities in the room, is the landlord still required to pay the meal per-diem?

Yes, temporary relocation payments, including meal per-diem, are required when a tenant is displaced for less than 60 days. The tenant continues to pay rent when receiving these payments.  

 If a tenant has to be temporarily relocated as a result of something the tenant or the tenant’s guests did to make the unit uninhabitable, is the landlord required to pay temporary relocation payments?

No relocation payments are owed if the governmental order to vacate the rental unit, or conditions in the unit that are “Health and Safety Conditions”, require the tenant to vacate a rental unit but the order to vacate or the “Health and Safety Conditions” were caused by the tenant or the tenant’s invitees/guests.  The Ordinance spells out an appeal/review process for a tenant concerning these kinds of determinations.  See section 6-58.85 B 3 and C 2.

Allowable Grounds for Termination of Tenancy

What are the allowable grounds for terminating a tenancy under the Ordinance?

There are nine (9) allowable grounds for termination of tenancy. Certain grounds place restrictions on the units (click here for more information), which apply regardless of a change in ownership. The reason for the termination of tenancy must be made honestly and without the intent of deception.

“For Cause” Grounds:

  • Failure to Pay Rent - review state law for more information

  • Breach of Lease - review state law for more information

  • Nuisance - review state law for more information

  • Failure to Give Access - review state law for more information

“No Fault” Grounds:

  • Owner Move-In - the property cannot have a comparable vacant unit available

  • Demolition - the landlord must already have City approved permits for the demolition

  • Capital Improvement Plan - the landlord must already have an approval from the program for the Capital Improvement Plan

  • Withdrawal from the Rental Market - the landlord certifies in good faith permanent removal of the unit from the rental market, regardless of a change in ownership (Ellis Act - Click here for more information)

  • Compliance with a Governmental Order - the termination of tenancy must be an action to comply with a government notice

When a landlord terminates a tenancy to withdraw the rental unit permanently from the rental market, how long must the unit be removed from the rental market? 

By definition, when a landlord terminates a tenancy because the rental unit is being withdrawn from the rental market, that means that the rental unit will be permanently withdrawn from the rental market. The City’s Ellis Act Policy subjects a landlord to financial penalties if the rental unit is returned  to the rental market in fewer than five years.

Who qualifies as an “owner” in order to terminate a tenancy based on an “owner move-in?

An owner must be a natural person who has at least a 50% ownership interest in the property. A "natural person" means a human being, but may also include natural persons who are identified in a living, family or similar trust as having an ownership interest in the property. Enumerated relatives of the owner that may occupy the rental until following a termination of tenancy based on an “owner move-in” include the landlord/owner’s spouse, domestic partner, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law.  Note that the owner or the enumerated relative must move into the unit within 60 days of the tenant vacating the unit and remain in the unit as the person’s primary residence for at least three years.

What is the penalty if an owner/enumerated relative(s) moves out before three years after a tenancy is terminated based on an “owner move-in”?

If the landlord or enumerated relative vacates the rental unit without good cause before occupying the unit as a primary residence for three years, the landlord must:

·         Offer the unit to the tenant who was displaced at the same rent that was in effect at the time the tenant vacated the unit;

·         Pay the tenant all reasonable and documented expenses incurred in moving to the rental unit; and

·         Inform, in writing, the Rent Program.

 

If the displaced tenant does not accept the landlord’s offer to return to the unit, the landlord may not charge rent to a new tenant that exceeds the lawful rent charged to the displaced tenant at the time the landlord served the notice to terminate the tenancy.

The displaced tenant or the City may also pursue additional penalties or remedies against the landlord

Termination of Tenancy Notice Requirements

What must be in the termination of tenancy notice?

All termination of tenancy notices must comply with state law. Terminations of tenancy for Owner Move-In, Demolition, Capital Improvement Plan, Withdrawal From the Rental Market, or Compliance with a Governmental Order must also adhere to the following requirements.

1. All notices to terminate a tenancy must state the following:

  • The grounds for termination enumerated in the Rent Ordinance.

  • The exact amount of relocation payment.

  • When the grounds are for an owner move-in, the notice must state the name of the person who will move in and the relationship of that person to the owner.

  • When the grounds are for permanent withdrawal from the rental market or demolition there are different procedures. Please review Form RP-202 instructions and related forms.

2) Landlord must file the following paperwork with the Rent Program:

  • A complete copy of the termination notice

  • Form RP-201

  • Supportive documents to substantiate the grounds for termination

  • When the grounds are for permanent withdrawal from the rental market or demolition there are different procedures. Please review Form RP-202 instructions and related forms.

3). The landlord must provide the tenant with a relocation payment.

  • Amount: Please refer to the Permanent Relocation Schedule. Click here to view.

  • Payment Schedule:  One-half of the payment is due within three business days after the tenant has informed the landlord, in writing, that the tenant will vacate the rental unit on the date no later than the date provided in the notice terminating the tenancy. The other half of the relocation payment is owed within three business days after the tenant has (i) vacated the rental unit by no more than two calendar days after the date provided in the notice; and (ii) removed all of the tenant’s personal property from the rental unit and/or from other property of the landlord, such as a storage unit.

4). The landlord must adhere to these additional restrictions. These restrictions apply regardless of a change in ownership. Staff monitors to confirm continued compliance.

  • Owner move-in

    Restriction: The property cannot have a comparable vacant unit available at the time the notice of termination of tenancy is served. The owner or qualifying family member must move into the unit within 60 days after the tenant vacates and reside in the unit as the person’s primary residence for at least three years. The Rent Program will require documentation that the owner/relative has moved into the unit and occupies the unit as the person’s primary residence.

  • Permanent withdrawal from the rental market

    Restriction: The unit is removed from the rental market permanently, regardless of a change in ownership. See the City of Alameda’s Ellis Act Policy City Council  Resolution 15517).

  • Demolition

    Restriction: The property must be demolished.

  • Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

    Restriction: The landlord must receive approval for the CIP prior to serving the tenant with a termination notice.  The rent charged to a new tenant cannot exceed the allowable rent increase determined by the CIP formula. See section 5, City Council Resolution 15138 for more information.

  • Compliance with a governmental order

    Restriction: The displaced tenant must be offered the same unit at the same rent after the landlord has complied with the governmental order.

Please review resources online for more information: www.alamedarentprogram.org/forms-termination-of-tenancy

Relocation Payments

Who is eligible for a permanent relocation payment?

Any tenant whose tenancy is terminated for an Owner Move-In, Demolition, Capital Improvement Plan, Withdrawal From the Rental Market, or Compliance with a Governmental Order is entitled to a permanent relocation payment. There is no minimum amount of time a tenant is required to have rented the unit in order to be eligible to receive such relocation payment.

A permanent relocation payment is also owed when a landlord notices a tenant of a rent increase above 10 percent and the tenant vacates the rental unit within 90 days of receiving the rent increase notice.

Are tenants in partially regulated units entitled to a permanent relocation payment if a tenant, after receiving a notice of a rent increase above 10%, informs the landlord in writing within 90 days of receiving the notice that the tenant will vacate the rental unit?

Yes, landlords of partially regulated units are subject to this requirement. See Section 6.58.85 A , Alameda Municipal Code. Please note, any notice of a rent increase above 10% must inform the tenant, in writing, of the tenant’s entitlement to a relocation payment if the tenant informs the landlord, in writing, within 90 days of receiving the notice of rent increase, that the tenant will vacate the rental unit. See section 6.58.110 D, Alameda Municipal Code. Within three days of service on the tenant of such rent increase notice, the landlord must file with the Rent Program a copy of the rent increase notice and the notice to the tenant of the entitlement to a relocation payment.  See Section 6.58.35 P, Alameda Municipal Code.

May a landlord enter into an agreement with the tenant at the start of the lease that the tenant waives the tenant’s right to relocation payments?

The Rent Ordinance 3249 prohibits a landlord from requiring a tenant to waive, whether in a rental agreement, lease or otherwise, the rights granted to a tenant under the Ordinance and any purported waiver of such rights is void.

Notwithstanding, a landlord may enter into a “Temporary Tenancy” with a tenant, which does not require the landlord to make a relocation payment at the end of the tenancy.  A “Temporary Tenancy” must meet the following criteria:

·         The tenancy must be established at a unit that was used as a landlord’s primary residence.

·         The tenancy cannot exceed 12 months for most tenancies (cannot exceed 5 years if in connection with a military assignment).

·         When the tenant vacates, the landlord must reside at the property for one year as the landlord’s primary residence.

·         A prospective tenant must be informed, in writing, at the inception of the tenancy, that the tenancy is a “Temporary Tenancy.”

·        A landlord must inform the Rent Program when a “Temporary Tenancy” is established.

What is the amount of permanent relocation payments to be provided to an eligible tenant household?

Please refer to the Permanent Relocation Schedule below. A “Qualified Tenant Household” means a household with a Tenant who is (i) is a Senior Adult, (ii) is a person with a Disability or (iii) has at least one child under the age of 18 residing in the household.

Relocation assistance table 2019.PNG

May a landlord and tenant agree to a relocation payment different than the amount required by the Relocation Payment Schedule?

After a tenant is served with a termination of tenancy notice that complies with the Ordinance and is informed, in writing, concerning the amount of the relocation payment to which the tenant is entitled, a landlord and tenant may agree to a different relocation payment provided the landlord submits to the Rent Program proof of the alternative relocation payment within 21 days of the tenant vacating. See 6-68.95 F, Alameda Municipal Code, Form RP-201.

In addition, rather than serving a termination of tenancy notice on a tenant, a landlord may choose to offer a buyout agreement to the tenant, by which a tenant agrees to vacate the rental unit, usually in return for money. Any buyout offer must (i) be in writing; (ii) inform the tenant of the tenant’s rights; and (iii) be filed with the Rent Program. A tenant has the right to rescind a signed buyout agreement within 30 days of signing. See Section 6-58.115, Alameda Municipal Code.  Form RP-205.

When are the permanent relocation assistance payments due?

If the termination of tenancy qualifies for permanent relocation payment, one-half of the payment is due within three business days after the tenant has informed the landlord, in writing, that the tenant will vacate the rental unit on the date no later than the date provided in the notice terminating the tenancy. The other half of the relocation payment is owed within three business days after the tenant has (i) vacated the rental unit by no more than two calendar days after the date provided in the notice; and (ii) removed all of the tenant’s personal property from the rental unit and/or from other property of the landlord, such as a storage unit.

Can the second half of the relocation payments be used to offset amounts due after the tenant vacates the unit (e.g. damage to the unit, unpaid rent etc.)?

No.

Does a termination of a tenancy for an Owner Move-In allow an owner’s relative to move into the unit?

Yes, as long as that relative is one of the following: owner’s spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law.

Unit Restrictions following a Termination of Tenancy

Which termination of tenancy grounds result in a restriction placed on the unit?

All restrictions placed on the unit after the termination of tenancy apply regardless of a change in ownership. An owner must disclose to any buyer and/or buyer’s agent that the rental unit is subject to the Rent Ordinance 3249 and subject to the restriction caused by the relevant ground for termination indicated below.

  • Owner move-in

    Restriction: The property cannot have a comparable vacant unit available at the time the notice of termination of tenancy is served. The owner or qualifying family member must move into the unit within 60 days after the tenant vacates and reside in the unit as the person’s primary residence for at least three years. The Rent Program will require documentation that the owner/relative has moved in and occupies the unit as the person’s primary residence.

  • Permanent withdrawal from the rental market

    Restriction: The unit is removed from the rental market permanently, regardless of a change in ownership. See the City of Alameda’s Ellis Act Policy City Council Resolution 15517).

  • Demolition

    Restriction: The property must be demolished.

  • Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

    Restriction: The landlord must receive approval for the CIP prior to serving the tenant with a termination notice.  The rent charged to a new tenant cannot exceed the allowable rent increase determined by the CIP formula. See section 5, City Council Resolution 15138 for more information.

  • Compliance with a governmental order

    Restriction: The displaced tenant must be offered the same unit at the same rent after the landlord has complied with the governmental order.

Buyout Agreements

What is a buyout agreement?

A buyout agreement is a written agreement between a landlord and a tenant, by which a tenant agrees to vacate a rental unit, typically in consideration for monetary payment, notwithstanding that there may be no grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy under Section 6-58.80, Alameda Municipal Code (AMC).

Are buyout agreements regulated?

Yes. Before making an offer of a buyout agreement to a tenant, a landlord must disclose to the tenant the tenant’s rights concerning a buyout agreement by serving the tenant with a written copy of the disclosure form RP-205. The tenant’s rights include the following: (i) The right not to enter into a buyout agreement; (ii) The right, before signing the agreement, to consult an attorney and revise the agreement; (iii) The right to consult the Rent Program regarding the agreement; and (iv) The right to rescind the buyout agreement at any time within 30 days after the agreement has been fully executed. The buyout agreement, at a minimum, must be in writing and must include specific text identified on the disclosure form RP-205.

When all the parties to the buyout agreement have signed it, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with a copy of the buyout agreement. The landlord must also within three calendar days after all parties have signed the agreement, file the signed buyout agreement and the completed disclosure form RP-205 with the Rent Program.

A buyout agreement that does not satisfy all of the requirements of the Rent Ordinance is not effective and may be rescinded by the tenant at any time, even after 30 days from the date the agreement was signed. A landlord shall take no retaliatory action against a tenant for a tenant’s refusal to enter into a buyout agreement or for rescinding a buyout agreement.

The end of the term of a lease or fixed-term lease

Are tenants entitled to relocation fees if they are required to vacate their rental unit at the end of the term of the lease?

The answer is generally “yes” because the Ordinance does not permit a tenancy to be terminated just because the term of a lease ends.

Under the Ordinance, there are limited grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy.  These include “just cause” reasons, for example, the failure of a tenant to pay rent.  If a landlord terminates a tenancy for cause, the landlord is not required to pay relocation fees to the tenant.  The Ordinance also allows a tenancy to be terminated for other no fault reasons, for example, an owner move-in.  Under those circumstances, the Ordinance requires a landlord to pay relocation fees to the tenant.  The Ordinance, however, does not provide that a landlord may terminate a tenancy just because the term of a lease ends.

Courts in California have held for more than 40 years that in a rent controlled jurisdiction, such as the City of Alameda, the jurisdiction may establish the grounds upon which a tenancy may be terminated.  Most of those jurisdictions do not include the expiration of a lease as a reason to terminate a tenancy and neither does Alameda’s Ordinance. 

Accordingly, in Alameda, at the end of the term of a lease, a tenant has the right to convert the lease to a month-to-month tenancy and, thereafter, the tenancy may be terminated for only one of the reasons permitted in the Ordinance, some of which require a landlord to pay relocation fees.  A tenant, however, may voluntarily vacate a rental unit at the end of a lease.  If that occurs, the landlord owes no relocation fees.

Landlords should keep in mind, however, that the Ordinance prohibits a landlord from waiving, in a rental agreement or lease, the rights granted to tenants under the Ordinance and any purported waiver of such rights is void.

If a landlord or tenant has questions concerning whether a particular situation requires the payment of relocation fees, please contact the Rent Program.

Capital Improvement Plan Definition

What is a Capital Improvement?

A Capital Improvement is defined as substantial rehabilitation that:

  • Materially adds value to the property

  • Appreciably prolongs the useful life or adapts the property to a new use

  • Has a useful life of more than one year and is required to be amortized over the useful life of the improvement

  • Has a documented cost that is not less than the product of eight times the amount of the rent (as averaged over the past 12 months) multiplied by the number of rental units to be improved

  • Qualifying improvements include the following. Routine repairs, such as replacing broken windows, interior painting, etc. DO NOT qualify.

    1. A new roof

    2. Upgrade in the foundation, including seismic retrofits

    3. A new or substantially new plumbing, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for all or substantially all of the building

    4. Exterior painting or replacement of siding on all or substantially all of the building

    5. Repairs reasonably related to correcting or preventing the spread of defects that are noted as findings in a Wood Destroying Pest and Organisms Report issued by a pest control company registered in Branch 3 of the State of California Structural Pest Control Board. Repairs must exceed $6,000 or the product of $1,000 times the number of units in the building.

    6. The installation of water conservation devices that are intended to reduce the use of water or energy

    7. Improvements or upgrades that meet or exceed disability/ accessibility standards required by law

When would a landlord apply for a Capital Improvement Plan?

Rent increase: If a landlord intends to make certain improvements to the rental property (“Capital Improvements” as described below) for which the landlord would like to increase the rent above the Annual General Adjustment, the landlord may submit a Capital Improvement Plan to the Rent Program. If the Plan is approved, the Rent Program staff will determine what the allowable maximum rent increase will be based on a formula set forth in the Capital Improvement Plan Policy.

Termination of tenancy: If the tenant must be displaced, even if temporarily, because of the work associated with the Capital Improvements, the landlord must submit a Capital Improvement Plan to the Rent Program.

When may a landlord apply for a rent increase above the Annual General Adjustment based on installing or replacing capital improvements on the property?

A landlord may apply at any time for a rent increase above the Annual General Adjustment based on installing or replacing capital improvements on the property if the landlord has received an unconditional approval of a Capital Improvement Plan from the Rent Program; an application for a Capital Improvement Plan must be submitted within 12 months of the completion of the capital improvements. See City Council Resolution 15138 for more particulars.

Please provide an example of how a building would meet the monetary threshold to qualify for a Capital Improvement?

Improvements must cost at least = One month’s rent × # of units improved × 8 (value approved by City Council) 

  • Example 1: Number of units: Multiplex, 30; Amount of one month’s rent: $2,000 (each unit); Threshold: $2,000 x 30 x 8 = $480,000

  • Example 2:Number of units: Duplex, 2; Amount of one month’s rent: $1,000 (downstairs) & $1,500 (upstairs); Threshold: (1,000 x 8) + (1,500 x 8) = $20,000

What if I started or completed Capital Improvements before November 1, 2015; can I increase my rent using the Capital Improvement Plan process?

  • No rent increases for Capital Improvements can be approved for work started or completed before November 1, 2015.

Rent Increases Using CIP Process

How is the allowable maximum rent increase calculated?

Monthly rent increase amount = [Total costs of repairs + interest for financing improvements] ÷ 15 years (Useful life) ÷ # of units improved ÷ 12 (months)

If my CIP application is approved and the tenant is noticed of the rent increase, but isn’t able to pay the increased rent, what happens?

The tenant has 30 days from the date they are served the rent increase notice to inform the landlord if the tenant will pay the rent increase or vacate the unit. If the tenant chooses not to pay the rent increase, the landlord is required to pay the tenant permanent relocation fees.

Terminating a tenancy for CIP

Is there a relocation fee associated with a termination of tenancy based on an approved CIP?

Yes, when the tenant must be permanently relocated due to the approved Capital Improvement Plan, permanent relocation assistance is owed.

Yes, when the tenant must be temporarily relocated due to an approved CIP, temporary relocation assistance is owed.

If a tenant is permanently relocated due to an approved Capital Improvement Plan, is the amount of the rent for a new tenant restricted?

Yes. The rent of the new tenant is limited to the rent increase determined by the approved Capital Improvement Plan application.

CIP procedures

What documents are required for a CIP application?

Documents must be submitted with the application to demonstrate the nature and cost of the claimed improvement. For example, supportive documents may include invoices, signed contracts, labor receipts, competitive bids, and self-labor logs.

If the Capital Improvement Plan application is denied, is there a waiting period to reapply?

No.

What are the required notices for the tenants?

There are two steps: 1) When the landlord submits a CIP to the Rent Program, the tenant must receive a notice that a CIP has been submitted to the Rent Program. 2) When the Rent Program approves a rent increase based on an approved CIP the landlord must notice the tenant of the rent increase and advise the tenant that the tenant has 30 days to inform the landlord whether the tenant intends to pay the rent increase or vacate the rental unit.  

Tenant Fee Pass-through

What fees can be passed on to the tenant?

There is an annual program fee charged to landlords who own units covered subject the Rent Ordinance.  Beginning July 1, 2020, landlords will be allowed to pass through 50% of the fiscal year 2020-21 Annual Rent Program Fee to a tenant in 12 equal installments. Passing through 50% of the fee will not be considered rent for purposes of calculating a rent increase.

General Fee Information

Is there a fee being charged to administer this program?

Currently, landlords are required to pay an annual program fee of $106 for each rental unit.

Can the fee be prorated?

No. The entire $106.00 per unit fee is paid annually and is owed regardless of how long a rental unit has been on the market so long as it has been rented or will be rented in the fiscal year for which the fee has been imposed.

 Must all landlords pay the annual program fee?

Yes, including landlords who rent single-family residences or condominiums.

Where can a landlord find the fee payment form?

Click here to download the form and for more information visit www.alamedaca.gov/Departments/Administration/Finance/Rent-Stabilization-Program