Guide to Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Program
Rent Control & Eviction Protection
Purpose of this Guide
This guide is published to help landlords, tenants, property managers, Realtors, and potential rental property owners understand how rent stabilization works in Berkeley. It explains the basic provisions of Berkeley’s rent control law and certain state laws relating to rental housing. The information in this guide is not a substitute for legal advice.
Generally, Berkeley’s rent control law governs: rent levels; changes to existing rent levels based on changes in space, services, number of occupants, or a rental unit’s condition; security deposit interest; and good causes to evict. The local law does not address many other aspects of landlord-tenant relationships, such as privacy rights and noise complaints. On our website (www.cityofberkeley.info/rent) go to Other Sources for listings of other organizations and resources for help resolving these kinds of problems.
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 carry out the Ordinance. Rent Board staff provide information and counseling to landlords and tenants, calculate and certify 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 pay annual registration fees to the Rent Board. These fees fund the program.
In 1995, the California legislature passed 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.) After a three-year phase-in, full “vacancy decontrol” took effect, allowing owners to set a market rent for most tenancies beginning on or after January 1, 1999. Owners must register new rents with the Rent Board and may increase those rents for a sitting tenant only by the annual general adjustment, or by an individual rent adjustment granted through the Board’s petition process.
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