FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
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- Rent stabilization definition
- History of rent stabilization in Alameda
- Find resources and forms
- General information
- Unit types and exemptions
- Rental property sales
- Offering a one-year lease
- Privacy concerns
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.
The Ordinance also has administrative requirements for annual rent increases, including a mandatory review for rent increases in excess of 5% and an optional review for rent increases of 5% or less. The Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) reviews rent increases and has authority to render decisions, which in some cases become binding.
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 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. Ordinance 3140 was amended in December 2015 (Ordinance 3143). After deliberations at City Council meetings in early 2016, the City Council adopted legislation effective March 31, 2016, (Ordinance 3148) imposing rent review for certain rental units, rent stabilization for certain rental units and limitations on the grounds for terminations of tenancies for all rental units. Later, the City Council submitted a measure (Measure L1) to the voters asking the voters if they wished to confirm Ordinance 3148. On November 8, 2016, 55.5% of voters in the City of Alameda approved Measure L1. Ordinance 3148, as confirmed by the voters, is effective until December 2019, unless the Council takes action otherwise.
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/ordinance-3148-overview
Are there required forms for rent increases and terminations of tenancies that must be filed with the Rent 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 this Ordinance?
Please contact the Rent Stabilization Program, Housing Authority of the City of Alameda. Phone: 510-747-4346; Email: firstname.lastname@example.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 Ordinance. Resources for local legal services can be found on the website: www.alamedarentprogram.org/legal-social-services
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
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?
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 Ordinance is invalid. In that situation, a landlord must rescind the invalid notice.
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
What is a multi-family unit?
A building with two or more housing units, even if a property owner lives in one of the units.
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. Contact the Rent Program to determine whether the 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. The requirements concerning notices of rent increases are described in the Rent Increase section below. Please note, however, any RRAC 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.
What is an “exempt” rental unit under the Ordinance?
Under the Ordinance, exempt units include single-family homes, condominiums, and certain rental units for which a certificate of occupancy was issued after February 1995. An exempt unit is exempt from rent stabilization but not rent review. An exempt unit is also not exempt from the notice of rent increase requirements nor from the requirements concerning terminations of tenancies.
How can I find out if my unit is exempt or non-exempt?
Generally, if the unit is 1) a single-family home, 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 considered exempt as described in the answer above. 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 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 (email@example.com) 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 "No Cause", an "Owner Move In" or 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offering a One-Year Lease
When is a landlord required to offer a one-year lease?
Tenants who as of March 31, 2016 were on a lease or a month-to month-tenancy must be offered a one-year lease with the first notice of a rent increase after March 31, 2016. For tenants who were on a lease, the offer of a one-year lease must have terms materially the same as the terms of the current lease as to duration, housing services and household composition. A landlord is also 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.
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.
In addition to legally required disclosures, certain submitted materials are published online in the monthly RRAC agenda. For example, a landlord form requesting a rent increase above 5% contains certain information about the tenant such as name, address, and contact information. Often, the landlord and the tenant will reach an agreement before the RRAC considers the rent increase. If, however, the parties do not reach such an agreement, the tenant’s contact information is redacted when the form is published in the online RRAC agenda one week before the RRAC hearing.
Data concerning rent increases and terminations are available in monthly reports online. This information does not disclose the names of tenants and 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 can the rent be increased?
Rent may only be increased as follows: 1) Annual Rent Increase: All rent increases must follow the procedures established by the Ordinance; 2) Capital Improvement Plan: The Rent Stabilization Program may authorize a rent increase if the landlord is able to document that s/he has completed work that meets the requirements outlined in Resolution No. 15138; 3) Voluntary Move-Outs: When a unit subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance is vacated as a result of a tenant voluntarily leaving or as a result of a "for cause" eviction, the landlord may set the rent for a new tenant at the landlord's discretion.
Only one rent increase may be imposed in any 12 month period.
All rent increase notices must include required text from Ordinance No. 3148.
There is a mandatory review of any rent increase in excess of 5 percent.
INCREASES OF 5% OR LESS
The tenant has the option to request a review of the rent increase. A landlord with the authority to make binding decisions must attend the review hearing. Hearing decisions: Advisory for all rental units.
INCREASES IN EXCESS OF 5%
The landlord is required to file the rent increase notice for a review of the increase. The tenant and the landlord (who must have ownership interest in the property) must attend the hearing. Hearing decisions: Binding for all multi-unit properties built before Feb. 1995; Advisory for single-family homes, condominiums, and multi-unit properties built after Feb. 1995.
Rent Increase Notice Requirements
What information concerning the Ordinance needs to be attached to the notice of a rent increase?
All notices of a rent increase must follow the requirements of State law. The required text of the Ordinance to be included with the rent increase notice depends 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 from the Ordinance does not comply with the Ordinance and therefore 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 concerning notices of a rent increase.
Must a landlord file with the Rent Stabilization Program a notice of a 5% rent increase?
No. Landlords must file with the Rent Program only notices of a rent increase above 5 percent.
Allowable Grounds for Termination of Tenancy
What are the allowable grounds for terminating a tenancy under the Ordinance?
There are ten (10) 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.
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 Cause - at an individual property, no more than 10% of the units monthly and 25% yearly can be terminated for No Cause
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
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 No Cause, Owner Move-In, Demolition, Capital Improvement Plan, Withdrawal From the Rental Market, or Compliance with a Governmental Order must also:
1) Include the following in the notice:
State grounds for termination enumerated in the Ordinance No. 3148
State the exact amount of relocation assistance owed
When the grounds are for owner move-in, state the name of the person who will move in and relationship of that person to the owner
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
Supportive documents to substantiate the grounds for termination
Who is eligible for relocation assistance?
Any tenant whose tenancy is terminated for No Cause, Owner Move-In, Demolition, Capital Improvement Plan, Withdrawal From the Rental Market, or Compliance with a Governmental Order is entitled for relocation assistance. There is no minimum amount of time a tenant is required to have rented the unit in order to be eligible to receive relocation assistance.
What is the amount of the relocation assistance to be provided to the tenant?
Relocation assistance is 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) plus $1,595 (adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index) for moving expenses. The amount of assistance is per household, not per tenant.
For example, a tenant resides 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 grounds eligible for relocation assistance, the relocation assistance owed to the tenant is $4,500 calculated as $1,595 (adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index) plus $3,000 ($1,000 monthly rent x 3 months). [Note that the relocation assistance with an approved Capital Improvement Plan or in connection with a Governmental Order to Vacate may be different. Contact the Rent Stabilization Program for particulars.]
May any part of the relocation assistance be traded for additional time in the unit?
Sometimes. When a tenant is terminated for No Cause, Demolition, or Withdrawal 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 $1,595 (adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index) for moving expenses may be traded for additional time. 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.
For example, if a tenant has rented a unit for three years and receives a termination notice for Withdrawal 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 $1,595 (adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index) in moving expenses.
Is it mandatory for a landlord to offer the time for money trade (discussed above) for terminations of tenancy for No Cause, Demolition, and Withdrawal from the Rental Market?
Is the tenant obligated to trade relocation assistance for additional time in the unit?
No. The tenant has the option to extend the stay when the termination notice served is No Cause, Demolition, or Withdrawal from the Rental Market.
When are the relocation assistance payments due?
If the termination of tenancy qualifies for relocation assistance, the first half of the payment is due when the tenant confirms in writing the date tenant will vacate the unit on the date in the notice (as may be extended). 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.)?
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.
No Cause - the new tenant's rent cannot be more than 5% above the rent at the time the previous tenancy was terminated
Owner Move-In - the owner or qualifying family member must move into the unit within 60 days after the tenant vacates and reside in the unit for at least one year
Demolition - the property must be demolished
Capital Improvement Plan - all capital improvements must occur and the rent for new tenants cannot exceed the allowable rent increase determined by the CIP formula. See section 5, Resolution 15138 for more information concerning the CIP formula
Withdrawal from the Rental Market - the unit is removed from the rental market permanently, regardless of a change in ownership
Compliance with a Governmental Order - the displaced tenant must be offered the same unit at the same rent after compliance with the governmental order
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
Routine repairs, such as replacing broken windows, interior painting, etc. DO NOT qualify. Qualifying improvements include:
A new roof
Upgrade in the foundation, including seismic retrofits
A new or substantially new plumbing, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for all or substantially all of the building
Exterior painting or replacement of siding on all or substantially all of the building
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.
The installation of water conservation devices that are intended to reduce the use of water or energy
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 Capital Improvements before November 1, 2015?
No rent increases for Capital Improvements can be approved for work started before November 1, 2015. If you would are seeking a rent increase associated with Capital Improvements started before November 1, 2015, you must use the Rent Review Advisory Committee process.
Rent Increases Using CIP Process
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