The Berkeley Rent Board Mailbag
Q. I'm a landlord and I just rented out an apartment in my building that has been exempt for some time. Do I need to register the unit? If so, do I need to register now, can I wait until the beginning of the fiscal year in July?
You do need to register the unit, and you must do so within 60 days of the date that the unit became available for rent. In order to register the unit, you must do the following:
- File a Vacancy Registration Form with the Berkeley Rent Board, and provide all the tenancy information for the most recent tenancy, and
- Pay any associated registration fees. The fiscal year begins on July 1 and runs through June 30 of the following year. If the unit must be registered midway through the fiscal year, then the fee you pay will be pro-rated according to how many months remain in the fiscal year. If you have any questions about how much to pay in pro-rated registration fees, you should call the Rent Board and ask to speak to a staff member in the Registration Unit.
In late May, you will receive an annual billing statement for the upcoming fiscal year. Annual Registration fees are due on July 1. If July 1 falls on a weekend, the fee is due on the following business day.
The penalty for late payment is 100% of all outstanding fees.
Q. I'm a new landlord and I overlooked my registration bill and my payment was late. I have heard that there is a 100% penalty for late payment. Is there any way I can have the penalty reduced?
It is true that late payment of both pro-rated and annual registration fees results in the assessment of a 100% penalty for all outstanding fees. The 100% penalty was enacted after the initial passage of the Berkeley Rent Ordinance because so many landlords were intentionally withholding registration fees in order to express their disagreement with the Ordinance. It is not a fee charged for the purpose of increasing revenue but a penalty to encourage compliance.
The Rent Board administratively waives a certain percentage of annual penalties if the account is resolved within 60 days of the July 1 due date. The percentage of waived penalty depends on the owner's payment history. In order to receive this administrative waiver, the owner must pay the fee and the reduced penalty no later than August 30.
If the penalty has been assessed on a pro-rated fee, or if the landlord no longer qualifies for the 60-day administrative waiver, the owner may submit a Request for Waiver of Late Registration Penalties directly to the nine-member elected Rent Board. In the request, the owner must describe the reason for late payment and attach any documentation that supports the request. The request will be reviewed, and the actual amount waived will be determined by the nine-member Board at one of their regular monthly meetings.
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