FAQs

For the latest information on the new requirements for annual registration in Program Year 2024-2025 click here

 General Information

Rent Increase Information

Program Fee Information

Temporary Relocation Information

                                   

Termination of Tenancy Information

Capital Improvement Plans 

Temporary Tenancies

 

 

 

Program Administration

Who is administering the Rent Program?

The Rent Program is staffed by employees of the City of Alameda as a program of the City Attorney's Office. Previously, from April 2016 to September 2022, the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda administered the program through a services contract(PDF, 3MB) with the City of Alameda.

How do I stay informed about the latest updates and developments?

Click here to sign up for the program email newsletter. News is also posted here.

 

Unit Types and Exemptions

What units are subject to the current Rent Ordinance(PDF, 3MB) ?

There are Fully Regulated Units and Partially Regulated Units under the Rent Ordinance.

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, townhomes, and multi-unit properties built after 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, Rent Ordinance(PDF, 3MB). Below is a summary of the units that are not subject to any provisions of the Rent Ordinance:

  • 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

  • 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 (refer to table below for more information)

  • 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

 

Space rented by tenant Does the landlord live in the unit as their primary residence? Does the tenant share kitchen or bathroom facilities? Does the Rent Ordinance apply to the tenancy?
Entire unit No No - tenant has exclusive use of kitchen and bathroom facilities Yes
Entire unit rented to multiple tenants No Yes - shared with other tenants Yes
One room  Yes Yes - shared with landlord No
One room Yes No - tenant's room has private bathroom, microwave, and refrigerator; tenant never uses landlord's bathroom or kitchen Yes
One room  No Yes - shared with other tenants Yes
Entire unit subleased from a master tenant No No - subtenant has exclusive use of kitchen and bathroom facilities Please see below
One room subleased from a master tenant  No Yes - shared with master tenant Please see below

 

Are subtenants and sub-lessees covered by the Rent Ordinance's tenant protections?

The Rent Program considers subtenancies on a case-by-case basis . If there is documentation suggesting a "landlord-tenant relationship" between the subtenant and the property owner, then the subtenancy may be subject to the Rent Ordinance's protections and the property owner may be responsible for ensuring that the subtenant is not subject to an invalid termination of tenancy and/or for making relocation payments. Subtenants should be aware that a master tenant may not have the same obligations under the Rent Ordinance that a landlord does.

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(PDF, 5MB).


 

Rent Registry

Are owners required to register rental units?

Yes. Section 6-58.55 of the Alameda Municipal Code requires that landlords provide an initial registration statement for each rental unit, including landlords of units that are subsidized through the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program.

How often is registration required?

Landlords of fully-regulated rental properties are required to submit an annual registration statement for each rental unit. Subsequently, registration must be updated within 30 days of the start of any new tenancy, and when there is a transfer of ownership. For more information on annual registration requirements, please visit this page. Please also see Regulation 20-01 for more information. 

Landlords of partially-regulated rental units must update the registration information within 30 days of the start of any new tenancy. Please see Regulation 20-04 for more information. 

Is the rent registry accessible to only landlords?

The rent registry will provide access to landlords for only the properties they own. After annual registration is submitted for a fully regulated unit, the Rent Program will provide the landlord and tenant a letter stating the apparent Lawful Rent Ceiling for the rental unit.  A tenant will have the opportunity to contest certain registration information provided by the landlord that is inconsistent with the tenant’s records. Both parties will also be informed of a process to appeal the Lawful Rent Ceiling as set forth in Civil Code section 1947.8.

What information is public?

Landlords, tenants and members of the public may request non-exempt rent registry information under the California Public Records Act.

Per State law, tenant information in the Rent Registry is considered “confidential” and is exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. Questions concerning this matter may be directed to Rent Program staff at rentprogram@alamedaca.gov.

Click here to read the press release issued by the City of Alameda concerning the privacy of tenant information.

What are the consequences if an owner does not register the rental unit?

For fully-regulated properties, Landlords who fail to submit annual registration or pay the annual program fees are considered non-compliant with the Rent Ordinance. If a landlord is out of compliance, they cannot lawfully raise rents and/or file a petition for upward adjustment of rent, including Capital Improvement Petitions. Being substantially out of compliance may result in:

  • Mailing of non-compliance letters with a copy sent to affected tenants
  • Late fees of 10% per unit per month for not paying annual program fees
  • Additional penalties and Administrative Citations. 

 


 

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. 3250, 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 (rentprogram@alamedaca.gov) 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 3250, 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. 

  • 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. Information can be verified with the Rent Program. For verification of annual fee payments prior to the 2020-2021 program year, contact the City Finance Department at 510-747-4881 or finance@alamedaca.gov.

Rent-Back Agreements

What is a "rent-back" agreement?

A rent-back agreement, also known as a post-closing possession agreement, enables the seller to continue occupying the property after the sale. The involved parties agree on a specified time frame during which the seller can remain in the property and establish a monthly rent amount.  

Are "rent-back" agreements regulated under the City of Alameda's Rent Ordinance? 

Such agreements may establish tenancy and confer rights to the former owner, including "just cause" protections under the City's Rent Ordinance. It is crucial to approach these arrangements with caution and careful consideration. When considering long-term occupancy, it is advisable to incorporate specific terms in the purchase contract that align with local and state laws. Importantly, please note that the Rent Ordinance does not permit the waiver of tenant rights. In certain scenarios, if the former owner does not vacate, the buyer may need to initiate a "no fault" termination of tenancy and provide the relocation payment required by local law to take possession.

To ensure compliance with local regulations, please reach out to Alameda Rent Program staff. 

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 for a Public Records Act Request (PRA)

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. Some personal information, such as tenant phone numbers and email addresses, will be redacted.

Click here to read the press release issued by the City of Alameda concerning the privacy of tenant information.

Were the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) meetings recorded?

Yes. Audio recordings and approved RRAC meeting minutes are available online. Click here to access the RRAC archive.


Rent Increase Overview

Please see Rent Increases 101 for 10 questions landlords should consider when implementing a rent increase.

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. See below for more information.

What is the Annual General Adjustment (AGA)?

2023 AGA: 2.9% - Effective September 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024
2022 AGA: 3.5% - Effective September 1, 2022 - August 31, 2023
2021 AGA: 2.7% - Effective September 1, 2021 - August 31, 2022*
2020 AGA: 1.0% - Effective September 1, 2020 - August 31, 2021*
2019 AGA: 2.8% - Effective September 1, 2019 - August 31, 2020*

*In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ordinance 3275(PDF, 8MB) placed a moratorium on rent increases for units subject to rent control. Any rent increase that was to take effect on or after April 22, 2020, was considered null and void. Ordinance 3315(PDF, 338KB) allowed landlords to begin serving tenants with AGA rent increases no sooner than May 1, 2022. For more information on the moratorium, click here.

How often may the rent be increased?

Only one rent increase may be imposed within any 12-month period.

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

By no later than May 31 of each year, staff at the Rent Program will provide that information. The AGA will be effective September 1 of that year through August 31 of the following calendar year.

May 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. Serving notice of a rent increase that uses "banked" amounts is not permitted until December 18, 2022. Click here 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. Click here for more information.

May rent be increased if an additional tenant(s) moves into the rental unit?

The City does not generally get involved in the formation of new tenancies. However, any rent increases imposed on existing lawful tenants, including roommates, are subject to our local regulations. See Regulation 20-06(PDF, 1MB) for additional information.

Are there limits on revising the utilities, amenities, or housing services that are included in the rent?

For multi-family rental properties built before 1995, there are limits on making revisions to charges or fees that are included with the rent. This can include, but is not limited to, charges for utilities, parking, storage, and pets. Landlords generally may not increase any such charges or fees, nor may the landlord “unbundle” such charges and fees so that they are no longer included with the rent during the terms of the rental agreement or month-to-month tenancy.

If the tenant signs a new or renewed rental agreement or revised terms for a month-to-month tenancy, and if the landlord unbundles or increases any charges or fees that had been included in the rent and lists them separately, those charges and fees shall be included when calculating the Maximum Allowable Rent. However, if the tenant requests housing services that were not included in an existing rental agreement or month-to-month tenancy, such charges or fees will not be included when calculating the Maximum Allowable Rent. 

For details, see Section 6-58.45 of the Rent Ordinance.

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 amounts in compliance with all the “banking” limitations

What should tenants do if they receive a rent increase in excess of the Annual General Adjustment?

A tenant may always request a review of previous or pending rent increase notices by filing a copy of the notice or other documentation along with an RP-100(PDF, 115KB) cover form and Attachment C(PDF, 171KB). Requests for review may also be filed online by creating a tenant Rent Registry account.

Please note that a rent increase in excess of the AGA may be in compliance with the Rent Ordinance if the landlord has "banked" a previous year's AGA and imposes the banked amounts in compliance with all the “banking” limitations

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.

Banking Rent Increases

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

Each year, a landlord is entitled to raise the rent by the allowable rent increase amount, also known as the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). Banking means that for a full 12 months a landlord chose not to raise the rent or to raise the rent less than the AGA. Increases that landlords were not permitted to take due to the moratorium on rent increases during the COVID-19 pandemic were likewise banked. 

A landlord may increase rent above the AGA in a subsequent year by imposing “banked” amounts, in addition to the current year’s AGA, provided the landlord adheres to the following requirements:

  • The total rent increase may not exceed the current year’s AGA plus 3.0 percent.

  • A landlord must provide the tenant with Banking Addendum Form RP-203(PDF, 289KB) when serving notice of a rent increase that includes "banked" AGA

  • A landlord must file with the Rent Program a copy of a rent increase notice that includes "banked" AGA within three calendar days.

  • A landlord may not bank more than 8.0 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.

  • The option to “bank” a rent increase became effective in September 2019. Therefore, there is no “banking” option for any years prior to September 2019 in which a landlord did not increase the rent.

  • Due to the rental protections enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the earliest a landlord may serve tenants with a rent increase that makes use of "banked" amounts is December 18, 2022. For more information on the rent increase moratorium, click here.

 

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 attach Form RP-203(PDF, 289KB)  to any notice of rent increase that exceeds the AGA when the landlord is imposing a “banked” rent increase. Such notices must also be filed with the Rent Program within three days of serving a tenant with such increase. 

All rental units must adhere to the following notice requirements, in addition to state law, for a rent increase above 10 percent. A landlord must complete and attach Form RP-209(PDF, 231KB)  to a notice of rent increase of more than 10 percent. Such notices must also be filed with the Rent Program within three days of serving a tenant with such increase.

 

Determination of Maximum Allowable Rent (MAR)

I received a letter from the Rent Program with the subject "Determination of Maximum Allowable Rent." What is this letter?

The Rent Ordinance requires the Rent Program to notify all landlords and tenants of fully regulated units of the Maximum Allowable Rent, or MAR, on an annual basis. The purpose of the letter is informational. It is intended to advise tenants of their rights and the restrictions landlords must follow when raising rent.

If a landlord has failed to register the property or pay the annual program fee, the landlord and tenant will instead receive notification that the landlord is not in compliance and may not implement the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) until the issue is resolved. Once the landlord is in compliance, the landlord and tenant will receive the annual MAR determination.

What is the MAR?

The Ordinance establishes 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 MAR is the “base rent” increased each year by the AGA, calculated based on compound addition.

  • Example 1: A tenancy began in 2018. As of September 1, 2019, the tenant was paying $2,000 per month. The MAR would be calculated as follows based on the each year's AGA:
    • $2,000 increased by 2.8% (for September 2019-August 2020) = $2,056
    • $2,056 increased by 1.0% (for September 2020-August 2021) = $2,076.56
    • $2,076.56 increased by 2.7% (for September 2021-August 2022) = $2,132.63
    • $2,132.63 increased by 3.5% (for September 2022-August 2023) = $2,207.27
    • $2,207.27 increased by 2.9% (for September 2023-August 2024) = $2,271.28
    • And so on
  • Example 2: A tenancy was established on June 1, 2021, with a monthly rent of $2,000. The landlord would first be eligible to raise the rent on June 1, 2022. The MAR would be calculated as follows based on each year's AGA:
    • $2,000 increased by 2.7% (for September 2021-August 2022) = $2,054
    • $2,054 increased by 3.5% (for September 2022-August 2023) = $2,125.89
    • $2,125.89 increased by 2.9% (for September 2023-August 2024) = $2,187.54
    • And so on

By definition, a tenant's rent may not exceed the MAR. If a tenant's monthly rent is more than the MAR, that is an indication something is wrong and the tenant should contact Rent Program staff.

Landlords may gauge how much, if any, they have "banked" by comparing the current rent to the MAR.

May a landlord increase a tenant's rent to the MAR with the next rent annual rent increase?

Not necessarily! The Maximum Allowable Rent as calculated above and the maximum rent increase allowed by the Rent Ordinance may not be one and the same. Imposing a rent increase in excess of the current AGA requires following all of the Rent Ordinance's "banking" limitations. As a result, landlords are prevented from increasing rent to (a) to a rent that exceeds the MAR as determined by the Rent Program or (b) by a percentage that exceeds the current year’s AGA plus 3.0%, whichever, i.e., (a) or (b), is smaller. See Rent Increases 101 for more information.

What do I do if I think the MAR or other information in the annual letter is incorrect?

Tenants may 1) request that program staff conduct a review of determination of MAR or 2) contest the base rent and/or the housing services included with the base rent that the landlord reported when registering the rental unit. To request this review, tenants should file a RP-100(PDF, 115KB) cover form along with Attachment B(PDF, 106KB) and supportive documentation. Requests for review may also be filed online by creating a tenant Rent Registry account.

Landlords have the right to request review of the determination of MAR by filing Form RP-200(PDF, 108KB) or logging on to their Rent Registry account.

What should tenants do if their monthly rent is more than the MAR?

By definition, a tenant's rent may not exceed the MAR. A tenant may request a review by filing a copy of the most recent rent increase notice along with an RP-100(PDF, 115KB) cover form and Attachment C(PDF, 171KB). Requests for review may also be filed online by creating a tenant Rent Registry account.


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. (Click here(PDF, 112KB) for more information on 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 a completed RP-200(PDF, 108KB) cover form and Attachment A(PDF, 132KB). Petitions may also be submitted online by logging on to a Rent Registry account. Hearing officers hear petitions and issue binding decisions. 

On the petition form, 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. (Please note that Base Rent Year when petitioning for a rent adjustment is not related to the concept of "base rent" when registering a rental unit.)

How does a tenant petition for a reduction in rent?

A tenant may petition for a downward rent adjustment based on a reduction in housing services, living space, or amenities; a substantial deterioration of the rental unit; and/or the landlord’s failure to comply with housing, health, and safety codes or the City’s rent regulations. To file a petition for a downward rent adjustment, the tenant should file an RP-100(PDF, 115KB) cover form along with Attachment A(PDF, 132KB) . Petitions may also be submitted online by creating a Rent Registry tenant account. 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.


Program Fee Information

General Fee Information

Is there a fee being charged to administer this program?

Landlords pay an annual program fee to the City to cover the costs to provide and administer the Rent Program. Fee amounts are updated annually in accordance with Resolution 15771(PDF, 2MB).

What is the current annual fee?

Please refer to the Annual Program Fee Schedule for more information.

When is the fee due?

Please refer to the Annual Program Fee Schedule for more information.

Are there late penalties for fees not paid by the deadline?

Yes. If the fee is not paid, a 10% late penalty will be applied after the due date, with an additional 10% to be added each successive month until a maximum penalty of 60% has been reached.

Can the fee be prorated?

No. The entire 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 during 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. 

Fee Pass-Throughs

May a landlord pass the annual program fee on to the tenant?

As of July 1, 2020, landlords are allowed to pass through 50% of the 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. No additional program forms are required to institute a tenant pass-through fee.

No additional program forms are required to institute a tenant pass-through fee; however, landlords who choose to use Form RP-210(PDF, 261KB) to notice an Annual General Adjustment of rent may indicate the fee pass through on the form. 


Temporary Relocation Information

When a tenant is forced to vacate a rental unit because the unit cannot be safely occupied, that tenant may be entitled to payments to help with the cost of temporary accommodations.

A landlord is only required to make Temporary Relocation Payments if a governmental agency, such as the City’s Code Enforcement Division , has issued an order to vacate (i.e. a “red tag”) or a Notice of Violation or similar edict that identifies conditions in the unit that have an adverse effect on the health and safety of an occupant.

The Rent Program does not make determinations about whether a unit may be safely occupied; however, if a governmental agency makes such a determination, Rent Program staff ensures that the tenant receives any relocation payments to which the tenant is entitled under the Rent Ordinance and related regulations.

See Regulation 20-07(PDF, 176KB) for complete details about the requirements and processes related to Temporary Relocation Payments.

Temporary Relocation Payments may also be required as part of an approved Capital Improvement Plan, if the landlord believes that improvements cannot be accomplished safely with the tenant remaining in the rental unit.

What should tenants do if they have concerns about the habitability of their rental unit?

The City of Alameda’s Code Enforcement Division (part of the Planning, Building and Transportation Department) is responsible for responding to complaints about violations that appear to be an immediate hazard to the health, safety, or welfare of the occupant(s) of a building.  Tenants who have concerns about their health and safety due to conditions in their rental unit are encouraged to contact Code Enforcement for more information or to submit a code violation complaint.

When conditions in the unit do not present an immediate health and safety hazard or require the tenant to vacate the unit, the tenant may be able to petition for a downward rent adjustment due to a substantial deterioration of the rental unit. Rent Program staff can provide more information about this process.

Are there circumstances in which a landlord may not be required to make Temporary Relocation Payments to a tenant who has vacated a rental unit?

Temporary Relocation Payments are only required if a governmental agency has issued an order to vacate or a Notice of Violation or similar edict that identifies conditions in the unit that have an adverse effect on the health and safety of an occupant.

If a governmental agency issues such an order or notice but, in the agency’s discretion, also makes a determination that (i) the tenant or a guest of the tenant caused or contributed to the conditions, or (ii) the conditions are the result of an event beyond the control of the landlord, such as a natural disaster, then the landlord is not required to make payments.

What happens once a governmental agency determines that the rental unit cannot be safely occupied?

Rent Program staff will ask the tenant to complete a declaration that all members of the household have vacated the rental unit. The Rent Program cannot require the landlord to make Temporary Relocation Payments until the tenant submits this declaration.

The landlord is required to complete Form RP-207(PDF, 283KB), which includes a notice explaining Temporary Relocation Payments to the tenant. The landlord must serve this notice on the tenant as soon as possible but within no more than three calendar days of the tenant’s vacating the rental unit. Within three calendar days of service of the notice on the tenant, the landlord must file a copy and other documentation with the Rent Program. See RP-207(PDF, 283KB) for complete requirements.

Payments initially are based on a daily amount calculated based on such factors as the number of people in the tenant household. For current per diem amounts, refer to the Temporary Relocation Payment Schedule.

The landlord should begin to make payments immediately upon the tenant vacating the rental unit and must make such payments on at least a weekly basis.

The tenant continues to pay rent to the landlord while receiving these payments.

What if the tenant is still displaced after 60 days?

If the work necessary to comply with the governmental order or to correct the violation takes longer than 60 days, then the payment standard switches to a monthly rent differential. Under rent differential payments, the tenant no longer pays rent to the landlord, and the landlord pays the difference between the lawful rent the tenant was paying at the time they vacated and the Fair Market Rent for a unit with the same number of bedrooms as the tenant’s rental unit. For current Fair Market Rent amounts used to calculate the rent differential, refer to the Temporary Relocation Payment Schedule.

What if the tenant decides to find new housing rather than waiting to re-occupy the original rental unit?

A tenant who is owed Temporary Relocation Payments may elect, in the tenant’s sole discretion, to end the tenancy and find alternative permanent housing. A tenant who does so is also owed a Permanent Relocation Payment, similar to the payments owed when a landlord permanently terminates a tenancy based on no-fault grounds. Refer to the Permanent Relocation Payment Schedule for current amounts.

When does the requirement to make Temporary Relocation Payments stop?

The landlord’s obligation to make either per diem or rent differential payments continues until either the conditions have been corrected and the tenant re-occupies the rental unit or the tenant has found alternative, permanent housing and the landlord has paid the tenant the full amount of a Permanent Relocation Payment.

The requirement to make Temporary Relocation Payments also stops if the landlord and tenant are able to negotiate a buyout agreement, or if the landlord permanently terminates the tenancy based on one of the allowable grounds, such as permanent withdrawal the rental unit from the rental market.

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 Temporary Relocation Payments if the conditions described above are met.

Does a tenant need to provide proof that they are paying for temporary accommodations in order to receive Temporary Relocation Payments?

No, a tenant is entitled to the Temporary Relocation Payments as long as the conditions described above are met.

If a tenant is staying somewhere with a kitchen, is the landlord still required to pay the meal per-diem?

No, the meal per diem is not required if the temporary accommodations include kitchen facilities.

Can a landlord provide temporary accommodations for the tenant rather than making Temporary Relocation Payments?

In lieu of making Temporary Relocation Payments, a landlord may offer the tenant a comparable rental unit in the City of Alameda. If the tenant does not agree that the unit is comparable, the tenant must so inform the landlord in writing. The landlord must pay the tenant’s reasonable and documented moving expenses.

If a landlord has directly paid for a tenant’s temporary accommodations (e.g. at a hotel or motel), the landlord may submit documentation of payment and deduct the amount from the Temporary Relocation Payments owed to the tenant.

Can Temporary Relocation Payments be appealed?

A landlord or tenant may file an appeal within 10 calendar days of the Rent Program informing the parties as to whether or not the tenant is owed Temporary Relocation Payments. Appeals will be heard and decided by an independent Hearing Officer.

Please note that an appeal may result in an order for the tenant to reimburse the landlord if the hearing officer determines that the landlord was not obligated to make payments.

A tenant or landlord may not appeal a governmental agency’s failure to take action, for example to not issue or not withdraw an order to vacate.


 

Termination of Tenancy Information

Allowable Grounds for Termination of Tenancy

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

There are eight (8) 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 - see below for qualifications and procedures

  • Withdrawal from the Rental Market - the landlord certifies in good faith permanent removal of the entire rental property from the rental market, regardless of a change in ownership, in accordance with the City's Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB) 

  • Demolition - see below for qualifications and procedures

  • 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, the removal is permanent, regardless of a change in ownership. The City’s Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB) subjects a landlord to specific requirements, restrictions, and 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.

Does a termination of a tenancy based on 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.

For Owner Move-In, is there a requirement for the owner or qualifying relative to live in the unit for a certain amount of time?

Yes, the owner or the qualifying 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.

If the landlord or qualifying 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 the Rent Program in writing

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’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.

Termination of Tenancy Notice Requirements

How much advance notice must a landlord give to a tenant prior to the vacate date?

Landlords are required to comply with state law's noticing requirements when terminating a tenancy for either "for cause" or "no fault" grounds. The California Courts Self-Help Guide has more information on the different types of notices under state law and in which circumstances they may be used, or review the California Tenants guide for additional information.

For terminations of tenancy based on Withdrawal from the Rental Market, the City's Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB) requires landlords to serve tenants with specific forms at least 120 days prior to the date the landlord intends to permanently withdraw the rental unit from the rental market. Tenants must vacate by that date; however, if the tenant has lived in the unit for at least one year and is either a) age 62 or older or b) a person with a disability, the tenant may assert a right to remain in the unit for up to one year by completing Form RP-202(C)(PDF, 262KB).

How does a landlord serve notice of a "no fault" termination of tenancy?

In addition to complying with state law, a notice of termination of tenancy for Owner Move-In, Demolition, Withdrawal From the Rental Market, or Compliance with a Governmental Order must also adhere to the following requirements.

1. A notice to terminate a tenancy must state the following:

  • The grounds for termination enumerated in the Rent Ordinance.

  • The exact amount of relocation payment.

  • For terminations based on 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.

  • Terminations based on Withdrawal from the Rental Market have different requirements and procedures. Please review Form RP-202 Instructions(PDF, 178KB).

2. The landlord must file the following paperwork with the Rent Program within three calendar days of service on the tenant:

For Owner Move-In, Demolition, or Compliance with a Governmental Order:

  • A complete copy of the notice of termination of tenancy
  • Form RP-201
  • Supportive documents to substantiate the grounds for termination

For Withdrawal from the Rental Market

3. The landlord must meet these additional qualifications:

  • Owner move-in: The property cannot have a comparable vacant unit available at the time the notice of termination of tenancy is served. The owner terminating the tenancy must be a "natural person" (i.e. not a corporation, real estate investment trust, etc.) and have at least  a 50% ownership stake in the property, and submit supporting documentation of both. Qualifying relatives are limited to the owner's spouse, domestic partner, child, parent(s), grandparent(s), grandchild, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law. See Form RP-201(PDF, 180KB) and Regulation 20-08(PDF, 202KB) for additional information.

  • Withdrawal from the Rental Market: For physical structures that have multiple rental units, or for multiple detached structures located on the same parcel, generally all rental units must be withdrawn from the rental market. Landlords must provide tenants and the Rent Program with documents certifying the landlord's intent to permanently withdraw the unit from the rental market, including a notarized memorandum to recorded on title in the Alameda County Records. See the City’s Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB) and RP-202 Instructions(PDF, 178KB)

  • Demolition: The landlord must have already obtained the necessary and related permits from the City of Alameda and submit copies to the Rent Program. 

  • Compliance with a Governmental Order: The landlord must submit a copy of the governmental order to vacate the unit.

What happens once the Rent Program has verified compliance with the requirements?

The landlord must provide the tenant with a permanent relocation payment and abide by certain restrictions on the rental unit, depending on the grounds for termination. See below for more information. 

What if a landlord does not meet the requirements, or terminates a tenancy based on grounds not permitted under the Rent Ordinance?

The Rent Program will contact the landlord, direct the landlord to rescind the invalid termination of tenancy, and explain why the notice was deficient. It is then up to the landlord to decide whether to serve a new, compliant notice of termination of tenancy on the tenant. 

Relocation Payments

Who is eligible for a permanent relocation payment?

Any tenant whose tenancy is terminated for an Owner Move-In, DemolitionWithdrawal 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.

A permanent relocation payment is also owed when a landlord notices a tenant of a pass through based on an approved Capital Improvement Plan and the tenant notifies the landlord within 30 days that the tenant intends to vacate the rental unit.

What is the payment amount?

Please refer to the Permanent Relocation Schedule. Click here to view.

When are payments due?

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.

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 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. Please see below for more information. 

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(PDF, 180KB).

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.

Is a tenant who finds a new home after receiving an invalid termination notice entitled to a relocation payment?

Yes. If the Rent Program reviews a notice of termination of tenancy and finds it does not comply with the requirements of the Rent Ordinance and/or Ellis Act Policy, program staff will immediately direct the landlord to rescind the invalid notice, allowing the tenant to remain in the unit until the landlord serves a valid notice. However, if the tenant has already taken action based on the invalid notice—including vacating the rental unit, signing a rental agreement for a new rental unit, or paying the security deposit for a new rental—the tenant is entitled to a permanent relocation payment.

Are tenants in partially regulated units entitled to a relocation payment after receiving a notice of a rent increase greater than 10%?

Yes, landlords of partially regulated units are subject to this requirement if the tenant informs the landlord, in writing, within 90 days of receiving the notice that the tenant will vacate the unit. See Section 6.58.85 A , Alameda Municipal Code. Please note, any notice of a rent increase above 10% must include Form RP-209, which informs the tenant of the entitlement to a relocation payment. 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, RP-209, and a proof of service (RP-204).  See Section 6.58.35 P, Alameda Municipal Code.

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(PDF, 3MB) and subject to the restriction caused by the relevant ground for termination indicated below.

  • Owner move-inThe 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.

  • Withdrawal from the Rental Market: The unit is permanently removed from the rental market, regardless of a change in ownership, and may not be rented to a new tenant. The Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB) specifies that, if the landlord wishes to return the unit to the rental market within five years, the displaced tenant gets right of first refusal and, regardless of if the displaced tenant accepts, the rent charged cannot be more than 5% above the rent at the time the tenancy was terminated. If the unit is rented within two years, the landlord is liable to the tenant for damages and the City of Alameda may institute a civil proceeding against the landlord.

  • Capital Improvement Plan (CIP): The landlord must make the improvements and provide the Rent Program with documentation showing they have been completed.

  • DemolitionThe property must be demolished.

  • Compliance with a Governmental OrderThe displaced tenant must be offered the same unit at the same rent after the landlord has complied with the governmental order.

  • An invalid termination of tenancy: A landlord who has terminated a tenancy on grounds not permitted under the Rent Ordinance shall not impose rent  for a new tenant that exceeds the Maximum Allowable Rent or Certified Rent at the time the prior tenancy was terminated. See Section 6-58.140(D), AMC.

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(PDF, 238KB). 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(PDF, 238KB).

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(PDF, 238KB) 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 of fixed-term lease

Are tenants entitled to a relocation payment 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 make a relocation payment 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 make a relocation payment 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 provide a relocation payment. A tenant, however, may voluntarily vacate a rental unit at the end of a lease. If that occurs, the landlord owes no relocation payment.

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 a relocation payment, please contact the Rent Program.


Capital Improvement Plans

What is a Capital Improvement Plan?

On December 19, 2023, the Alameda City Council adopted Ordinance 3361(PDF, 1MB) to revise the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Policy. The new policy became effective January 19, 2024.

The purpose of the policy is to encourage landlords to improve the quality of the City's rental housing stock, ensure that landlords receive a just and reasonable return on their Capital Improvement expenditures, and to provide relocation assistance for tenants who are temporarily displaced as a result of improvements to their rental units.

By filing an application for a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), landlords may be able to recover the cost of eligible improvements over time by passing them on to the tenants in the form of a pass through. The pass through is calculated by amortizing the cost of the improvement, including interest for the financing the landlord secures, over the useful life of the improvement.

For details on how the policy is implemented, please refer to Regulation 23-01(PDF, 252KB).

When would a landlord apply for a Capital Improvement Plan?

CIP Pass Through: If a landlord makes eligible improvements to the rental property and as a result wishes to recover their cost, the landlord may submit a Capital Improvement Plan to the Rent Program. If the plan is approved, Rent Program staff will determine the allowable pass through based on a formula set forth in the Capital Improvement Policy. Landlords may file prior to work commencing to receive conditional approval based on estimates or may file within 12 months of completion based on documented costs. Conditional approval requires the landlord to demonstrate the actual costs of the improvements once the work is complete.

Temporary Relocation of Tenancy: If the tenant must be displaced temporarily, because of the work associated with eligible improvements, the landlordmust submit a Capital Improvement Plan to the Rent Program prior to work commencing. Landlords may or may not choose to include a request a CIP pass through in association with the improvements.

 

Eligibility Criteria

Which properties are eligible to file for a Capital Improvement Plan?

Rental Properties that are subject to rent control and which have between two and 24 units. 

What work qualifies as a Capital Improvement?

A qualifying Capital Improvement must meet a cost threshold of $10,000 for the property or $1,000 per unit if the property has between 11-24 units.

In addition, 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

List of Qualifying Improvements for CIP

  1. A new roof covering all or substantially all of a building or a structurally independent portion of a building;

  2. A significant upgrade of the foundation of all or substantially all of a building or a structurally independent portion of a building, including seismic retrofits;

  3. A new or substantially new plumbing, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in one or more rental units;

  4. Exterior painting or installation/replacement of siding on all or substantially all of a 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.

  6. The installation of water conservation devices that are intended to reduce the use of water or energy efficient devices, such as a solar roof system, or converting utilities from gas to electric, that are intended to save energy and/or reduce greenhouse gases;

  7. Improvements or upgrades to a rental unit that meet or exceed disability/ accessibility standards as required by law;

  8. A fire sprinkler or fire alarm system covering all or substantially all of a building;

  9. Replacement of stairs and/or railings in all or substantially all of a building;

  10. Lead based paint stabilization and abatement

 

  
 

What work does NOT qualify as a Capital Improvement?

  • Routine repairs, such as replacing broken windows, interior painting, etc.
  • Improvements or repairs for which the Landlord receives insurance proceeds
  • Any additional cost incurred for property damage/deterioration due to unreasonable delays in the completion of the improvement/repairs. 

How much project cost may be recovered?

  • The percentage of the total project cost eligible for pass through is determined by property size:
    2-4 Units  100% 
    5-15 Units  75%
       16-24 Units       50% 
  • 25+ Unit properties are NOT eligible; capital improvement expenses may be included in a Landlord Petition for a an upward adjustment based on Fair Return. 
  • Specified improvements for seismic retrofits and lead paint remediation/abatement may be eligible for 100% cost recovery for properties with 5-24 units. 

CIP Pass Throughs

Pass throughs are subject to two different caps: one calculated at the time the Rent Program approves the CIP, and another cap whenever the landlord imposes a rent increase that includes a CIP pass through.

  • When the CIP is approved: The CIP pass through can never exceed 5% of the tenant’s monthly rent at the time of approval.
    • As part of the application process, landlords are required to provide the current rent amounts for each tenant. If necessary, the Rent Program will extend the amortization period to reduce the monthly amount to 5% of the tenant’s current rent. This sets a maximum monthly CIP pass through which can never be exceeded.
  • Whenever the landlord imposes a rent increase: The total monthly increase—including the combination of the Annual General Adjustments, allowable use of banked amounts , and any approved CIP pass throughs—may not exceed 8% of tenant’s current rent  
    • In order to meet the 8% cap, the landlord may choose to reduce the CIP pass through to less than the maximum until the next rent increase. Alternately, the landlord may reduce the size of a banked rent increase.
    • Landlords may use Form RP-210(PDF, 261KB) to notify a tenant of an AGA, a banked rent increase, and/or any authorized pass through, and to specify the amounts of each.

How is the allowable pass through calculated? 

If a landlord demonstrates an improvement qualifies as a Capital Improvement under the CIP Policy, the Rent Program will determine the amount of the pass through by amortizing the cost of the improvement, including the confirmed interest rate for the financing the landlord secures for the improvements, over the useful life of the improvements, as determined by the Program Administrator.

Assume the improvements have a useful life of 15 years (180 months). The monthly pass through would be calculated using the following formula: [total costs of repairs + interest for financing improvements] ÷ 180 months ÷ # of units improved

Example 1

  • 20-unit apartment building
  • Total cost: $400,000
  • Monthly rent increase per unit: $400,000 ÷ 180 ÷ 20 = $111.11

Example 2

  • Triplex (one unit owner occupied)
  • Total cost: $50,000
  • Monthly rent increase per unit: $50,000 ÷ 180 ÷ 3 = $92.59

 

What happens if a CIP pass through is more than 5% of a tenant’s current rent?

The Rent Program will determine whether any pass through would surpass the 5% cap and, if so, adjust the amortization period accordingly:

Example 1 (Assume 20-unit building, Total Cost = $400,000, useful life of 15 years)

  • Tenant’s Current Rent: $2000
  • CIP Pass Through: $111.11
  • Maximum 5% Pass Through: $100.00
  • Tenant Portion of Total Cost: $400,000 / 20 units = $20,000
  • Amortization Period Adjustment: $20,000 / $100.00 = 200 months or 16.67 years

     

Example 2 (Assume 3-unit building, Total Cost = $50,000, useful like of 15 years)

  • Tenant’s Current Rent: $1,750
  • CIP Pass Through: $92.59
  • Maximum 5% Pass Through: $87.50
  • Tenant Portion of Total Cost: $50,000 / 3 units = $16,667
  • Amortization Period Adjustment: $16,667 / $87.50 = 190 months or 15.87 years

When may a landlord implement an approved pass through?

The Rent Ordinance limits rent increases to once every 12 months.  A CIP pass through is considered a rent increase for these purposes. Accordingly, a CIP pass through may only be imposed if at least one year has passed since the last rent increase. A landlord who has received final, unconditional approval of a CIP may impose the allowable pass through at the same time as a valid Annual General Adjustment, so long as the total increase does not exceed 8% of the tenant’s current rent. 

Tenant Hardship Pass Through Exemption

A tenant may qualify for relief of payment of a Pass Through if the Tenant demonstrates ONE of the following financial hardship situations exist:

1) Tenant is a recipient of means-tested public assistance, such as:

  • Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • General Assistance (GA)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids (CalWORKS)

2) The Tenant’s gross household income is less than 80% of the current Area Median Income (AMI).

3) The Tenant’s gross household income is less than 120% of the current Area Median Income (AMI) AND the rent charged, including a CIP Pass Through, would be greater than 33% of monthly gross household income.

4) Exceptional circumstances exist, such as excessive medical bills or student loan payments.

Relocation Payments for CIP

What if a tenant cannot safely remain in the unit while the capital improvement work is being done?

If the Landlord in good faith believes the work associated with the Capital Improvements cannot be accomplished safely with the tenant(s) remaining in the Rental Unit, the landlord is required to file a CIP application prior to taking any action to relocate the tenant. If the CIP application is approved, the tenant(s) will be entitled to Temporary Relocation Payments in accordance with AMC 6-58.85.

Can the landlord provide comparable housing for the tenant?

Yes. If the landlord identifies a vacant, comparable rental unit, the tenant may elect to relocate temporarily without necessitating Temporary Relocation Payments; however, the decision to accept the offer is left up to the tenant’s discretion.

Can a tenant who has been displaced from their unit find new housing rather than waiting to return to their unit?

Yes. A tenant who has been temporarily relocated, or informed that they will be temporarily relocated, may elect to end their tenancy and find alternative, permanent housing. If they do so, the landlord must provide a Permanent Relocation Payment in accordance with AMC 6-58.85. A tenant who has found their own temporary accommodations may do so at any time prior to reoccupying their rental unit. A tenant who has accepted a landlord’s offer of a comparable unit may do so with good cause after 120 days.

Is a tenant who moves out rather than paying an approved CIP pass through entitled to a relocation payment?

If the Rent Program determines that a project qualifies for a CIP pass through, program staff will notify each affected tenant of the approved maximum pass through amount. To implement a pass through, the landlord must provide the tenant(s) with written notice, which can be served concurrently with a rent increase notice. At this time, tenants can elect to vacate the rental unit in lieu of paying the CIP pass through.

If a tenant has elected not to pay the CIP pass through and has provided the landlord with the appropriate notice required by state law of their intention to vacate the rental unit (see Regulation 23-01(PDF, 252KB) for details), the Landlord shall make Permanent Relocation Payments to the tenant in accordance with AMC 6-58.85.

CIP Filing Procedures

What documents are required for filing a CIP application?

Landlords must complete form RP-214(PDF, 223KB)

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?

Landlords must provide notice to tenants at the following steps of the CIP process:

  1. When the landlord submits a CIP to the Rent Program, affected tenants must receive a notice that a CIP has been submitted to the Rent Program and whether, as part of the application, the landlord is requesting the tenant's tenancy be temporarily or permanently terminated. Landlords are not required to inform tenants of an estimated pass through amount at this time. The Rent Program will advise tenants and landlords of an approved pass through amount if the CIP is approved.

     

  2. A landlord who intends to impose a pass through that has received final, unconditional approval from the Rent Program must provide written notice to the affected tenants and advise them that they have 30 days to inform the landlord whether they intend to pay the pass through or vacate the rental unit and receive a permanent relocation payment.

Landlord/Tenant Appeals

Please note, any tenant or landlord may appeal the Rent Program’s determination(s) concerning the unconditional CIP Pass Through approval, and conditional approval involving temporary relocation before a project commences.

Any appeal must be filed within 20 days of the Rent Program’s final determination notice. 

  1. The tenant’s grounds for appeal include, but are not limited to:
    • Whether or not the improvement qualifies as a Capital Improvement
    • The length of amortization
    • The amount of pass through (costs are excessive or not reasonable)
    • The work in the application was not performed
    • Improvements were necessary due to unreasonably delayed maintenance
    • Whether a Tenant must be temporarily relocated
    • Whether the pass through is applicable to their tenancy
  2. The landlord’s grounds for appeal include, but are not limited to Rent Program’s determination of:
  • The length of amortization
  • The amount of pass through
  • Which improvements qualified as a Capital Improvement
  • Whether a tenant(s) must be temporarily relocated
  • Whether the pass through is applicable to specified tenant(s)

Temporary Tenancies

Am I able to temporarily rent my home to a tenant?

Dwelling units that are rented or leased to transient guests for 30 consecutive days or less are fully exempt from the Rent Ordinance.

The Rent Ordinance also makes allowances for homeowners to temporarily rent their residence to a tenant— if, for example, the landlord has to relocate for work or will be traveling—without having to make a permanent relocation payment once the tenancy concludes. These "temporary tenancies" 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 five 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 landlord must inform the Rent Program when a temporary tenancy is established. 

How do I inform the Rent Program of a temporary tenancy?

It is strongly suggested that landlords contact Rent Program staff to discuss the requirements of a temporary tenancy prior to signing a lease with a tenant.

To proceed with filing a notice of temporary tenancy:

  1. Please notify the Rent Program within 30 days of signing a temporary tenancy lease with the tenant. This notification must be in writing (email OK) and include a copy of the lease.
  2. The above notification should indicate that a) you will move back into the unit within 60 days of the end of the lease and notify the Rent Program, and b) that no relocation payment will be owed to the tenant. Please cc the tenant when you submit the notification.
  3. Rent Program staff will follow up with a letter informing you whether the arrangement meets the requirements of a temporary tenancy and, if it does, instructions for what you must do once the lease ends (move back in within 60 days, notify our office in writing within 30 days of moving back in, and provide documentation of your re-established residency).
  4. Staff will also send a letter to the tenant, reiterating that their tenancy will end once the lease concludes and they will not receive relocation assistance.
  5. Once the Rent Program receives notification that you have moved back in, we will follow up with a request for documentation of residency.
  6. Once 12 months have passed, we will follow up with a final request for documentation of their residency, for monitoring purposes.