Richmond, California enacts a rent control and just cause eviction ordinance, on hold for now

Originally planned to take effect on September 4, 2015, residential landlords and tenants in the City of Richmond would have been subject to a rent control and just cause eviction ordinance.

Introduction The city of Richmond, California, enacted a rent control and just cause eviction ordinance that was slated to take effect on September 4, 2015. On September 3, 2015, proponents of a referendum on the ordinance submitted to the City Clerk enough signatures to suspend the effective date of the ordinance. The County Elections Office has 30 days, not counting weekends and holidays, to verify the signatures and certify the results. If the results pass certification, the City Council may then repeal the ordinance, or place it on the ballot at the next regular municipal election (November 2016), or call a special election (possibly the Presidential primary in June 2016). (For details on the suspension procedure, see Elections Code section 9237.)

Assuming the ordinance becomes effective, readers of The California Landlord’s Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities, The California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions, and California Tenants' Rights should consider the following information when setting rents, terminating tenancies, and responding to rent increases. The information is presented in the same format as the appendices in all three books.

Name of Ordinance Municipal Code, Article XI, Chapter 11.100, Rent Control, and rules and regulations issued by the Interim and Rent Control Boards. (Sections 11.100.010 and 11.100.030((g).)

Adoption Date August 5, 2015, effective September 4, 2015.

Exemptions (rent control) Single family homes and condominiums; units that received a certificate of occupancy after February 1, 1995; units in motels, hotels, inns, tourist homes, rooming and boarding homes that are rented primarily to transient guests for a period of less than 60 days; units in hospitals, convents, monasteries, extended medical care facilities, asylums, non-profit homes for the aged, or dorms owned and operated by institutions of higher learning; units receiving project-based or tenant-based Section 8 subsidies; units used for providing, on a nonprofit basis, child care or other residential social services. Exemptions are not automatic; landlords must apply for them. (Section 11.100.020 (E).)

Exemptions (just cause). See Just Cause, below.

Administration Interim Board (5-member appointed board, September 4, 2015 to November 16, 2016); Rent Control Board (elected 5-member board, post-November 16, 2016). C/o City Manager’s Office, 450 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 300, Richmond, CA, 94804, Phone: 510-620-6512, Fax: 510-620-6542. Website: http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/59/City-Manager. (Section 11.100.030.)

Registration Landlords of regulated units must pay a registration fee. (Section 11.100.020(A).)

Vacancy Decontrol Pursuant to state law, following a voluntary or legitimate vacancy (see Just Cause, below), landlord my establish a new rent at landlord’s discretion. If the average annual vacancy rate in any category, classification, or area of controlled units exceeds five percent, the Board may, at its discretion, remove rent controls from such category, classification, or area. The Board must reimpose controls if the vacancy rate subsequently drops below five percent. (Section 11.100.030(q).)

Just Cause Required, except for units in motels, hotels, inns, tourist homes, rooming and boarding homes that are rented primarily to transient guests for a period of less than 60 days; units in hospitals, convents, monasteries, extended medical care facilities, asylums, non-profit homes for the aged, or dorms owned and operated by institutions of higher learning; units used for providing, on a nonprofit basis, child care or other residential social services.

Other Features Landlord who desires to remove a unit from the market, by demolition, conversion, or other means, must apply for and obtain a permit from the Board, in accordance with the Board’s rules and regulations. (Section 11.100.030(s).) Any notice of an increased rent must contain a statement that the unit and common areas are not subject to uncorrected citations or notices of violation of any state or local housing, health, or safety laws. (Section 11.100.040(g)(2).) Landlord may apply for pass-throughs for specified expenses. (Section 11.100.030(f)(15).) Landlords who violate the ordinance are guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be sued civilly. (Sections 11.100.090 and 11.100.100.)

Base Rent and Adjustments Landlords may not charge rent for the same tenancy for any controlled unit greater than the rent in effect on July 21, 2015 (the “base rent ceiling”). If there was no rent in effect on July 21, 2015, the base rent ceiling is the rent charged on the first date that rent was imposed following July 21, 2015. The base rent ceiling is the reference point from which the rent ceiling will be adjusted. Landlord must post the base rent ceiling for each unit in a prominent place. (Section 11.100.040.) No later than June 30 of each year, Board will announce the percentage by which controlled units’ rent will be adjusted, effective the following September 1. The adjustment is 100% of the CPI increase (All Urban Consumers, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose region), for the twelve month period ending in March (day of the month not specified in the ordinance). The adjustment may not be less than zero percent nor greater than six percent; landlord may petition for an upward or downward adjustment. (Sections 11.100.050(a), (b).)

Reasons Allowed for Just Cause Eviction

Additional Local Notice Requirements and Limitations: For all, notice must state the cause for the termination; in any action to recover possession, landlord must allege and prove compliance with Section 11.100.060.

Failure to pay rent after receiving a three-day notice.

Failure to correct a lawful obligation or covenant of the tenancy within seven calendar days after receiving notice as required by state law (exceptions: failure to surrender possession upon proper notice, and adding an additional tenant who is a dependent child of the tenant(s)

Landlord must file a copy of the termination notice with the Rent Control Board within three days of serving the notice on the tenant (applies to this and all below reasons).

Tenant is committing or permitting a nuisance, causing substantial property damage, or substantially interfering with the landlord’s or other tenants’ rights to quiet enjoyment.

Tenant is using the property for an illegal purpose.

Tenant with an oral rental agreement has refused to execute a written extension or renewal agreement.

Tenant has refused the landlord access to the rental unit as required by state or local law.

A person in possession of the unit at the end of the lease term, or upon sale at foreclosure, is an unapproved subtenant.

The landlord seeks the unit in good faith for a resident manager (relocation fees apply in some circumstances).

The landlord in good faith seeks to remove the unit from the rental market (relocation fees apply).

The landlord seeks to recover possession in order to demolish the unit, or perform work on the building (specific requirements apply).

The government has ordered that the building be vacated (relocation fees apply in some circumstances).

The landlord’s contract with a governmental agency to provide housing requires that the tenancy end, or the tenant no longer qualifies.