FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Updated 8.19.19

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Rent Stabilization Definition

What is rent stabilization?

Rent Stabilization Ordinance No. 3148 is legislation established in the City of Alameda, effective March 31, 2016. It applies to approximately 13,400 rental units. 

The Ordinance protects tenants from certain evictions and requires a relocation assistance payment when a tenancy is terminated due to circumstances that are not the fault of the tenant.

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. 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.

History of Rent Stabilization in Alameda

What is the recent history of the City of Alameda’s regulations concerning rent increases and terminations of tenancies (“evictions”)?

In October 2015, the City Council adopted requirements that rent increase notices for every rental unit include required text informing the tenant of the availability of the Rent Review Advisory Committee to review the rent increase.  If the required text was not in the rent increase notice, the rent increase was null and void. In November 2015, the City Council adopted an urgency Ordinance (Ordinance 3140) that imposed a moratorium on rent increases at or above 8% and established “just cause” requirements for evictions for all multi-family rental units built before 1995.  In December 2015, Ordinance 3140 was amended (Ordinance 3143) to eliminate two of the grounds for terminating a tenancy that had been a part of Ordinance 3140. After deliberations at City Council meetings in early 2016, the City Council adopted legislation effective March 31, 2016, (Ordinance 3148) imposing rent review for all rental units, rent stabilization for certain rental units and limitations on the grounds for terminations of tenancies for all rental units.  In July 2019, Ordinance 3244 became effective and it prohibits tenancies at all rental units from being terminated for “no cause”. In August 2019, Ordinance 3246 became effective, which limits rent increases to 70% of the change in the Consumer Price Index for all multi-family rental units built before February 1995 (rent increases limited to an Annual General Adjustment [“AGA”]) This Ordinance also requires landlords to register their rental units annually, permits (with certain limitations) landlords to “bank” unused AGA’s, and establishes a petition process for an upward or downward adjustment in the maximum allowable rent.

Find Resources and Forms

Where can I find a copy of Ordinance 3148?

A copy may be obtained at the City Clerk’s office or online at  www.alamedarentprogram.org/

Are there required forms for rent increases and terminations of tenancies that must be filed with the Rent Stabilization Program? Where can I find them?

Yes. Forms can be found in the Housing Authority lobby or online: www.alamedarentprogram.org/forms

Who do I contact for resources, services and information about the Rent Stabilization Program?

Please contact the Rent Stabilization Program by Phone: 510-747-4346 or Email: rrac@alamedahsg.org

Where can I get legal advice concerning the Ordinance?

· The Rent Stabilization Program does not provide legal advice. Landlords and tenants are responsible for seeking the advice of legal counsel on any matters related to the program.

· Resources for tenant and landlord local legal services can be found on the website: www.alamedarentprogram.org/legal-social-services

· Free legal services are available for low-income Alameda tenants. Contact Centro Legal De La Raza at 510-437-1554.

 Who can I contact about maintenance concerns in my rental unit?

For health and safety concerns, please contact the City’s Code Enforcement department: www.alamedaca.gov/community-development/building/code-enforcement. For other maintenance concerns and resources, please find more information online: www.alamedarentprogram.org/maintenance-resources

General Information

If a notice had been given for a rent increase or a termination of tenancy served before March 31, 2016, but the rent increase or termination of tenancy was not effective until after March 31st, do the requirements of the moratorium ordinance (Ordinances 3140 and 3143) apply?

Yes.

What do landlords need to provide to prospective tenants about the Ordinance?

A landlord must provide new tenants with these documents: 1) Written notice that the rental unit is subject to Ordinance 3148; 2) A copy of Ordinance 3148; 3) A copy of the current City regulations relating to Ordinance 3148; 4) A copy of the current information brochure that explains the Ordinance.

A landlord may satisfy this requirement by providing a tenant with information on how to access the documents on the internet. If, however, the tenant does not have internet access or requests hard copies of the documents, the landlord must provide hard copies.

I am a landlord who may have served a notice of a rent increase or termination of tenancy that was not in compliance with Ordinance 3148. What should I do?

Please contact the Rent Stabilization Program to discuss. A notice of a rent increase or termination of tenancy that does not comply with the requirements of the Rent Stabilization Ordinances is a violation and in those situations, typically a landlord must rescind the deficient notice. If the landlord has received increased rent as a result of a deficient notice, that increased rent must be reimbursed to the tenant.

I am a tenant who may have been served a notice of a rent increase or termination of tenancy that was not in compliance with Ordinance 3148. What should I do?

Please contact the Rent Stabilization Program to submit a copy of the notice you received. Staff will review the notice for compliance with the Ordinance and inform the tenant and the landlord if the notice does not comply with the City’s Ordinance. Rent increases: submit a copy of the notice and Form RP-01. Termination of tenancies: submit a copy of the notice and Form RP-16.

Unit Types and Exemptions

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

Yes. Units in the following categories are not subject to any provisions of Ordinance 3148: Units in which the current rents are regulated by federal law or by regulatory agreements between the property owner and a) the City; b) the Housing Authority; or c) any agency of the State of California or the Federal Government (e.g. Section 8 units); Units rented or leased for 30 days or less (month to month rental agreements do not apply); Accommodations in hotels, motels, inns, rooming or 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; Mobile homes

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 What is a multi-family unit?

A building or property with two or more dwelling units, even if a property owner lives in one of the units, except if one of the dwelling units is an approved accessory dwelling unit (see next question).

Is a single-family home with an in-law unit considered a multi-family unit? Does it matter if the unit is attached or not?

It depends on whether the in-law unit (an “accessory dwelling unit”) has been permitted by the City. If it has been permitted, regardless of whether the in law unit is attached or detached, the property will be treated as a single family residence. Contact the Rent Stabilization Program to determine whether the in-law unit has been permitted.

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 termination of tenancies notices 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. The requirements concerning notices of rent increases are described in the Rent Increase section below. Please note, however, any decision concerning a rent increase for a single-family home or a condominium is not binding on the parties.

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 Stabilization Program for more information.

How can I find out if my unit is subject to a binding or non-binding decision concerning the amount of a rent increase?

Generally, if the rental unit is 1) a single-family residence, 2) a condominium or 3) a multi-family unit where the initial certificate of occupancy was issued for the unit after February 1995, the unit is subject to the annual program fee, all termination of tenancy requirements and all rent increase notice requirements, but any decision concerning the rent increase amount is not binding on the parties. If the unit is a multi-family unit where the initial certificate of occupancy was issued for the unit before February 1995 the unit is subject to the annual program fee, all termination of tenancy requirements, and binding decisions concerning the amount of the rent increase. If you are uncertain, contact the Rent Stabilization Program.

 Are rent increases and termination of tenancies for Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 units governed by this Ordinance?

No. If, however, a tenant with a Housing Choice Voucher (sometimes known as a Section 8 voucher) moves out and a tenant without the Housing Choice Voucher moves in, the owner of that unit will be subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. If you would like to become a Housing Choice Voucher landlord please contact the Housing Authority at 510-747-4322.

Rental Property Sales

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

With few exceptions, all rental units in Alameda are subject to the City's Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance (Ordinance No. 3148) and the City's "urgency ordinances" (Ordinance Nos. 3140 and 3143) that were in effect prior to Ordinance No. 3148.  Although a rental unit may not be subject to strict rent control, almost all rental units in Alameda are subject to providing notices to tenants concerning any rent increase and limiting the reasons for terminating tenancies under Ordinance No. 3148.  If you are buying or selling a rental unit, it is important that you are aware that these regulations may apply. A new owner may be held responsible for a prior owner's violations of these 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. 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

Offering a One-Year Lease

When is a landlord required to offer a one-year lease?

A landlord is required to offer any prospective tenant a one-year lease.

 How often must a one-year lease be offered?

Other than as provided in the answer to the question above, a landlord is not required to offer a tenant a one-year lease.

Privacy Concerns

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

The answer depends. Generally, 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’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 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.

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. 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.

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 Stabilization 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 Stabilization 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.

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 Stabilization Program.

Hearing officers hear petitions and issue binding decisions.

 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 3 percent.

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

-    A landlord using banked AGA may not increase rent by more than 8%  

-    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 Stabilization Program needs to be attached to the notice of a rent increase?

Landlords of 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 Stabilization Program.

Landlords of single-family homes, condominiums and multi-family properties built after February 1995 must include specific text with any rent increase notice. When the rent increase exceeds 5 percent, a landlord is required to file with the Rent Stabilization Program a copy of the rent increase notice and Form RP-04. Contact the Rent Stabilization Program for filing instructions or review the information online. The required text that must be included in the notice of rent increase varies depending on the amount of the rent increase: A notice of rent increase equal to or less than 5% must include text from section 6-58.60, Alameda Municipal Code (Form RP-02). A notice of rent increase above 5% must include text from section 6-58.65, Alameda Municipal Code, (Form RP-03). A landlord is required to file with the Rent Stabilization Program any rent increase notice above 5 % and Form RP-04.

What are the consequences when a rent increase notice does not have the required Ordinance text as described above?

A rent increase notice that does not include the required text is an invalid rent increase. A landlord must rescind the invalid rent increase. Once the invalid rent increase is rescinded, a landlord may re-serve the tenant with a notice that complies with the Ordinance.

Can two rent increases be imposed in one year?

No. Only one rent increase may be imposed within any 12-month period.

If the current rent includes utilities, such as water, may the terms of a tenancy be changed such that the tenant is required to pay separately for that utility?

Yes, but requiring the tenant to pay separately for that utility would constitute a rent increase and a landlord would need to comply with the provisions of the Ordinance under the Rent Stabilization Program concerning the rent increase.

When a tenant in a single-family home, condominium or multi-family rental property built after February 1995 is served with a notice of a rent increase above 5%, must a landlord file a copy of the notice with the Rent Stabilization Program within a specific number of days?

Yes, for these rental units, a landlord must file with the Rent Stabilization Program a copy of such notice within 15 calendar days of service of the notice on the tenant. The rent increase notice must be submitted to the Rent Stabilization Program using Form RP-04 and the notice to the tenant must include Form RP-03.

What happens after a landlord files the forms concerning the notices of a rent increase above 5% with the Rent Stabilization Program for rental units in single-family residences, condominiums or multi-family rental properties built after February 1995?

  • The Rent Stabilization Program will verify that the rent increase notice meets the requirements of the Ordinance.

  • If the notice meets these requirements, the landlord and tenant will be scheduled for a hearing before the RRAC.

  • If the notice does not meet the requirements of the Ordinance, the landlord will be informed of the deficiency.

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

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:

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

  • The grounds for termination enumerated in the Rent Stabilization 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-22 instructions and related forms.

2) Landlord must file the following paperwork with the Rent Stabilization Program within seven (7) calendar days of serving the notice on the tenant:

  • A complete copy of the termination notice

  • Form RP-06

  • 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-22 instructions and related forms.

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

  • Amount: One month’s rent for every year, or portion thereof, that the tenant has rented the unit (not to exceed four months’ rent) plus moving expenses of $1,665 (adjusted yearly based on the Consumer Price Index).

    Use the Relocation Assistance Calculator available online: https://form.alamedahsg.org/Forms/Calculator

  • Payment Schedule:  The first half of the payment must be paid when the tenant informs the landlord, in writing, the tenant will vacate the unit on or before the date as indicated in the notice to terminate the tenancy, unless that date has been extended (see below). The second half of the payment must be paid when the tenant vacates the unit.

  • Extended Stay Option: When a tenancy is terminated for demolition or permanent withdrawal of the rental unit from the rental market, the tenant may trade all or some of the relocation payment for additional time in the unit. The tenant must inform the landlord, in writing, to exercise the tenant’s right to extend time in the unit. The tenant must continue to pay rent while occupying the 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 one year. The Program Administrator will require documentation that the owner/relative  has moved into 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 Assistance

Who is eligible for a 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 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.

What is the amount of the relocation assistance to be provided to the tenant?

The relocation payment is $1,665 (adjusted yearly based on the CPI) for moving expenses plus the payment of one month’s rent for every year, or portion thereof, that the tenant has rented the unit (not to exceed four months).

  • For example, a tenant has resided in a unit for two years and two months and has paid $1,000 monthly rent for the last 12 months. If this tenant receives a termination of tenancy notice for one of the reasons set forth in the answer to Question 60, the relocation payment is $4,665 calculated at $1,665 (adjusted by the annual CPI) + $3,000 ($1,000 monthly rent x 3 months). [Note that the relocation payment in connection with an approved Capital Improvement Plan or a Governmental Order to Vacate may be different and the Rent Program must be contacted for particulars.]

  • The amount of the relocation payment is per household, not per tenant.

Click here for the relocation assistance calculator.

May any part of the relocation assistance be traded for additional time in the unit?

Sometimes. When a tenant is terminated for Demolition or Withdrawal of the rental unit from the rental market, the tenant may trade payment of one month’s rent for every year (or portion thereof) that the tenant has rented the unit (up to four months) for additional time in the unit. No part of the $1,665 (adjusted yearly based on the CPI) for moving expenses may be traded for additional time. The tenant must put the request to trade for extended time in the unit in writing to the landlord.

  • For example, if a tenant has rented a unit for three years and receives a termination notice for Withdrawal of the rental unit From the Rental Market, the tenant has the option to remain in the unit an additional three months beyond the date when the tenant was to vacate, but would receive only the $1,665 (adjusted yearly based on the CPI) in moving expenses. The tenant must put the request to trade for extended time in the unit in writing to the landlord.

Is it mandatory for a landlord to offer the time for money trade (discussed above) for terminations of tenancy for Demolition and Withdrawal from the Rental Market?

Yes.

Is the tenant obligated to trade relocation assistance for additional time in the unit?

No.

When are the relocation assistance payments due?

If the termination of tenancy qualifies for a relocation payment, one-half of the payment is due when the tenant confirms in writing the tenant will vacate the unit on the date in the notice (as it may be extended if the tenant extends time in the unit in exchange for a reduction in the amount of the relocation payment). The other half of the payment is due when the tenant vacates the unit, but only if the tenant vacates the unit on the date the tenant indicated he/she would vacate.

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, 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 Stabilization Ordinance 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 one year. The Program Administrator will require documentation that the owner/relative  has moved into 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.

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

Are tenants entitled, under the City’s Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance (Ordinance No. 3148) 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.

 Moreover, as provided in  section 6-58.150 D of the Ordinance, after a landlord has served the tenant with a notice of termination of tenancy that the Rent Stabilization Program has determined complies with the requirements of the Ordinance, a landlord and tenant may agree to relocation assistance different than the relocation assistance provided in the Ordinance, if the landlord and the tenant provide to the Rent Stabilization Program written proof of the alternative relocation assistance agreement within 21 days of the Tenant’s vacating the rental unit.

 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 Stabilization Program.

CIP Definition

When must I 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 Stabilization Program. If the Plan is approved, the Rent Stabilization 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 Stabilization Program.

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

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, the fee is the amount set forth in Ordinance 3148. The ordinance states that relocation assistance is $1,665 (adjusted yearly based on the CPI) for moving expenses plus the payment of one month’s rent for every year, or portion thereof, that the tenant has rented the unit (not to exceed four months).   

Yes, when the tenant must be temporarily relocated due to an approved CIP. The Program Administrator will work with the landlord and the tenant on a case-by-case basis to determine a temporary relocation plan and the costs associated with that plan.

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 Stabilization Program, the tenant must receive a notice that a CIP has been submitted to the Rent Stabilization Program. 2) When the Rent Stabilization 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 Pass-through

What fees can be passed on to the tenant?

There is an annual program fee charged to landlords who own  units covered under the Ordinance.  Payment of this fee is the responsibility of the landlord. Passing on the program fee (or any other fee that has not previously been charged to the tenant) is considered a rent increase and is not permitted unless it is part of rent increase procedures established by the Ordinance.

Fiscal Year 2017/18 fee = $120
Fiscal Year 2018/19 fee = $106

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. No portion of the fee may be passed through to tenants.

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.

Where can I find the registration form?

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