About the City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board and Program

In June 1980, Berkeley residents passed the City's comprehensive rent stabilization law, known as the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance. (Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 13.76.) The Ordinance regulates most residential rents in Berkeley, provides tenants with increased protection against unwarranted evictions and is intended to maintain affordable housing and preserve community diversity.

The Rent Stabilization Board, composed of nine elected commissioners, enacts regulations, hears petition appeals and administers a program to implement the Ordinance. Rent Board staff provide information and counseling to landlords and tenants, calculate and certify individual rent ceilings, conduct administrative hearings and issue decisions on landlord and tenant rent adjustment petitions, collect registration fees, and maintain a database of registered rental units. Owners of rental property covered by the Ordinance are required to register their units with the Board by filing registration statements and paying annual registration fees, which cover the program's cost.

In 1995, the California legislature enacted the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which suspends rent control following a qualifying vacancy and reinstates it for a new tenancy. (Civil Code section 1954.50, et seq.) For the transition period between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1998, owners were allowed to set new rents within prescribed limits. Now, under full "vacancy decontrol," owners may set a market rent for most tenancies beginning on or after January 1, 1999. The rent charged a new tenant becomes the new rent ceiling. Owners must register new rents with the Rent Board and may increase these rents for a sitting tenant only by an annual general adjustment or an individual rent adjustment granted through the Board's petition process.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Rent Stabilization Board is to regulate residential rent increases in the City of Berkeley and to protect against unwarranted rent increases and evictions and to provide a fair return to property owners. The Board works to ensure compliance with legal obligations relating to rental housing; and to advance the housing policies of the City with regard to low and fixed income persons, minorities, students, disabled, and the aged.