The Berkeley Rent Board Mailbag
Q: I have been subletting a furnished apartment for a year, and I am thinking of re-signing the lease to stay on for another year. I actually signed three agreements when I moved in: one for the apartment, one for the furniture, and one for the parking space. Can the person I'm subletting from raise the rent on all three if I agree to another year?
First, the sublessor can charge you no more than the legal rent ceiling that the owner would be eligible to charge the sublessor for occupancy of the rental unit. As for the furniture and parking, if those items are rented to you under a lawful separate agreement, the sublessor may attempt to charge you more, but you are not obligated to continue renting the services. In fact, either party can cancel a separate agreement by serving the other party with a 30-day written notice of cancellation. If furnishings and parking are regulated housing services for your unit, then the sublessor may not charge you a separate fee for them at all.
It is currently permissible for housing services, like furniture and parking, to be rented separately if they were not included in the base or initial rent. (The base rent for most units is the rent charged in 1980.) Regulation 1012 provides that such a separate agreement for unregulated housing services should be in a separate document from the lease or rental agreement, and (1) must not be a condition of tenancy; (2) must have commercially reasonable terms; and (3) their termination cannot be used as a ground for eviction.
Assuming that the furniture belongs to your sublessor, it was probably not a base year housing service. Similarly, if there are fewer parking spaces than apartments in the building, parking may not have been included in the unit's base year rent. However, if the sublessor first rented the unit after January 1, 1999, then the housing services initially provided to the sublessor are the regulated housing services for your unit, regardless of what housing services were provided in the base year. If you have questions concerning the housing services provided with your unit, you should check the records at the Rent Board office.
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