Local COVID-19 Protections

Frequently Asked Questions About Changes to the Moratorium on Rent Increases

Updated September 1, 2022

Background

On September 1, 2019, Rent Ordinance 3250(PDF, 3MB) went into effect. For rental units at most multi-unit properties in Alameda, also known as fully-regulated units, landlords are not permitted to increase rent by more than a certain percentage, known as the Annual General Adjustment or AGA. If a landlord does not increase the rent by the full amount allowed by the AGA, the landlord can “bank” the unused portion and impose it in a later year; however, such increases are subject to numerous restrictions.

Just over half a year into this new rent control policy, the Alameda City Council instituted a COVID 19-related Declaration of Local Emergency(PDF, 4MB) and passed a moratorium on rent increases for units subject to the AGA. Any rent increase that was to take effect on or after April 22, 2020, was considered null and void. The moratorium remained in effect for almost two years. Under Rent Ordinance 3250, the AGA rent increases that landlords could not impose were instead “banked.”

On March 15, 2022, the City Council passed Ordinance 3315(PDF, 338KB), allowing landlords to begin noticing rent increases, but these increases may not exceed the AGA. Any “banked” rent increases will not be available for landlords to use until 60 days after the City Council rescinds its Declaration of Local Emergency, which currently remains in effect.

What rental units are subject to the AGA cap?

The AGA applies to multi-unit properties built prior to February 1, 1995, also known as fully-regulated properties. 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.

I rent a unit subject to the AGA. By how much may my landlord increase my rent?

Your landlord may serve you with a notice of rent increase for no more than the current AGA percentage cap, which is 3.5% for the period of September 1, 2022, through August 31, 2023.

What about rent increases that were effective prior to September 1, 2022?

The AGA through August 31, 2022, was 2.7%. Per Ordinance 3315(PDF, 338KB), landlords were not permitted to serve notice of a rent increase before May 1, 2022. So any notice served after May 1, 2022, with an effective date on or before August 31, 2022, could not exceed 2.7%.

Please note that all notices are also required to follow the normal requirements of state law, including the amount of prior notice that landlords must give tenants of a proposed rent increase. 

What does "serve notice" mean?

Landlords must provide tenants with advanced, written notice that their rent will be increasing. See the California Tenants guidebook for more information on the difference between the notice date and the effective date, when the rent increase takes effect.

What do I do if my landlord gave me written notice prior to May 1, 2022, that my rent would be increasing?

Reach out to the Rent Program as soon as possible to request a review so staff can determine whether the notice is in compliance with all the City’s rent regulations. Tenants may do this by submitting Form RP-100(PDF, 263KB) and Attachment C(PDF, 450KB) by email, mail, or fax. Alternately, tenants may submit Attachment C by creating an account in the Rent Registry and clicking on the green “File a Petition” button. (For more information, see the Rent Registry User Guide(PDF, 1MB).)

What do I do if my landlord serves me with a rent increase in excess of the AGA?

Similarly, reach out to the Rent Program to request a review of the rent increase notice by submitting Form RP-100(PDF, 263KB) and Attachment C(PDF, 450KB).

Can my landlord end my tenancy?

Landlords may terminate a tenancy based only on certain allowable grounds identified in Ordinance 3250. The COVID-19 Urgency Ordinance(PDF, 8MB)  adopted by the City Council in April 2020 further limits these grounds, effectively prohibiting landlords from terminating a tenancy based on Owner Move-In or an approved Capital Improvement Plan. These protections remain in place while the Declaration of Local Emergency is in effect. Landlords still may permanently withdraw a property from the rental market in accordance with the City’s Ellis Act Policy(PDF, 495KB).

The California legislature has passed statewide laws concerning unpaid rent and eviction protections for tenants who had “financial distress” due to COVID-19. State law contains explicit language pre-empting local control in this area. For more information on state requirements and protections, see the City of Alameda’s FAQs for renters.

Is there emergency rental assistance available to tenants who are behind on rent or utility payments due to COVID-19?

See the City of Alameda’s Tenant Resources page for the latest resources and information on assistance.

What will happen once the City Council lifts its Declaration of Local Emergency?

Thirty days after the declaration is lifted, landlords may begin issuing terminations of tenancy based on Owner Move-In or Capital Improvement Plans.

Sixty days after the declaration is lifted, landlords may be able to notice a rent increase that exceeds the AGA using the “banked” rent increases that they were not able to impose due to the moratorium. Such rent increases would be subject to all of the regular rules, restrictions, and requirements of Ordinance 3250.

What rules apply to using a “banked” rent increase?

See the full FAQ on banking rent increases for a complete list of restrictions; however, some rules to highlight:

  1. A landlord may implement only one rent increase in any 12-month period.
  2. Regardless of how much a landlord has banked, no rent increase may exceed the current AGA plus 3.0%.
  3. A landlord that serves a rent increase that makes use of any banked amount must also serve the tenant with Form RP-203(PDF, 140KB) . Within three calendar days, the landlord must also file with the Rent Program a copy of the rent increase notice and a proof of service(PDF, 89KB) .
  4. A landlord may not implement a rent increase that uses banked amounts in consecutive years or more than three times during a tenancy.
  5. Banked rent increases do not transfer to a new owner when a property changes hands.

Once the Declaration of Local Emergency is over, how soon and how much could my rent increase?

It will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Did your rent increase between September 2019 and April 2020 when the moratorium began?
  • Has your landlord already noticed you with a rent increase since May 1, 2022?
  • What will the next AGA percentage cap be and how soon does it become effective?
  • Has the property changed ownership?

You can always contact the Rent Program for more information based on your specific circumstances.