13.76.120

Individual adjustments of rent ceilings.

A. Petitions. Upon receipt of a petition by a landlord and/or tenant, the rent ceiling of individual controlled rental units may be adjusted upward or downward in accordance with the procedures set forth elsewhere in this section. The petition shall be on the form provided by the board. The board may set a reasonable per unit fee based upon the expenses of processing the petition to be paid by the petitioner at the time of filing. No petition shall be filed before September 1, 1980. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the board or hearing examiner may refuse to hold a hearing and/or grant an individual rent ceiling adjustment for a rental unit if an individual hearing has been held and decision made with regard to the rent ceiling for such unit within the previous six months.

B. Hearing Procedure. The board shall enact rules and regulations governing hearings and appeals of individual adjustments of rent ceilings which shall include the following:

1. Hearing Examiner. A hearing examiner appointed by the board shall conduct a hearing to act upon the petition for individual adjustments of rent ceilings and shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations.

2. Notice. The board shall notify the landlord if the petition was filed by the tenant, or the tenant, if the petition was filed by the landlord, of the receipt of such a petition and a copy thereof.

3. Time of Hearing. The hearing officer shall notify all parties as to the time, date and place of the hearing.

4. Records. The hearing examiner may require either party to an individual rent ceiling adjustment hearing to provide it with any books, records and papers deemed pertinent in addition to that information contained in registration statements. The hearing examiner shall conduct a current building inspection and/or request the city to conduct a current building inspection if the hearing examiner finds good cause to believe the board's current information does not reflect the current condition of the controlled rental unit. The tenant may request the hearing examiner to order such an inspection prior to the date of the hearing. All documents required under this section shall be made available to the parties involved prior to the hearing at the office of the board. In cases where information filed in a petition for an individual rent ceiling adjustment or in additional submissions filed at the request of the hearing examiner is inadequate or false, no action shall be taken on said petition until the deficiency is remedied.

5. Open Hearings. All individual rent ceiling adjustment hearings shall be open to the public.

6. Right of Assistance. All parties to a hearing may have assistance in presenting evidence and developing their position from attorneys, legal workers, recognized tenant organization representatives or any other person designated by said parties.

7. Hearing Record. The board shall make available for inspection and copying by any person an official record which shall constitute the exclusive record for decision on the issues at the hearing. The record of the hearing, or any part of one, shall be obtainable for the cost of copying. The record of the hearing shall include: all exhibits, papers and documents required to be filed or accepted into evidence during the proceedings; a list of participants present; a summary of all testimony accepted in the proceedings; a statement of all materials officially noticed; all recommended decisions, orders and/or rulings; all final decisions, orders and/or rulings, and the reasons for each final decision, order and/or ruling. Any party may have the proceeding tape recorded or otherwise transcribed at his or her own expense.

8. Quantum of Proof and Notice of Decision. No individual rent ceiling adjustment shall be granted unless supported by the preponderance of the evidence submitted at the hearing. All parties to a hearing shall be sent a notice of the decision and a copy of the findings of fact and law upon which said decision is based. At the same time, parties to the proceedings shall also be notified of their right to and the time limit for any appeal allowed by the board and/or to judicial review of the decision pursuant to this section and Section 13.76.180 of this chapter.

9. Consolidation. All landlord petitions pertaining to tenants in the same building shall be consolidated for hearing, and all petitions filed by tenants occupying the same building shall be consolidated for hearing unless there is a showing of good cause not to consolidate such petitions.

10. Appeal. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the hearing examiner may appeal to the board or to any appeals panel of the board established by the board, so long as such panel has at least three commissioners. On appeal the board or panel shall affirm, reverse, remand, or modify the decision of the hearing examiner. The board or panel may conduct a new (de novo) hearing or may act on the basis of the record before the hearing examiner without holding a hearing. An appeal to the board shall be filed no later than thirty days after receipt of the notice of the decision of the hearing examiner. The board may set a reasonable appeal fee to be paid by the appellant at the time of filing the appeal.

11. Finality of Decision. The decision of the hearing examiner shall be the final decision of the board in the event of no appeal to the board. The decision of the hearing examiner shall not be stayed pending appeal; however, in the event that the board or panel reverses or modifies the decision of the hearing examiner, the board shall order the appropriate party to make retroactive payments to restore the parties to the position they would have occupied had the hearing examiner's decision been the same as that of the board's.

12. Time for Decision. The rules and regulations adopted by the board shall provide for final board action on any individual rent adjustment petition within one hundred and twenty days following the date of filing of the individual rent ceiling adjustment petition, unless the conduct of the petitioner or other good cause is responsible for the delay.

13. Board Action in Lieu of Reference to Hearing Examiner. The Board, on its own motion or on the request of any landlord or tenant, may hold a hearing on an individual petition for a rent ceiling adjustment without the petition first being heard by a hearing examiner.

C. In making individual adjustments of the rent ceiling, the board or hearing examiner shall consider the purposes of this chapter and shall specifically consider all relevant factors, including (but not limited to):

1. Increases or decreases in property taxes;

2. Unavoidable increases or any decreases in maintenance and operating expenses;

3. The cost of planned or completed capital improvements to the rental unit (as distinguished from ordinary repair, replacement and maintenance) where such capital improvements are necessary to bring the property into compliance or maintain compliance with applicable local code requirements affecting health and safety, and where such capital improvement costs are properly amortized over the life of the improvement;

4. Increases or decreases in the number of tenants occupying the rental unit, living space, furniture, furnishings, equipment, or other housing services provided, or occupancy rules;

5. Substantial deterioration of the controlled rental unit other than as a result of normal wear and tear;

6. Failure on the part of the landlord to provide adequate housing services, or to comply substantially with applicable state rental housing laws, local housing, health and safety codes, or the rental agreement;

7. The pattern of recent rent increases or decreases;

8. The landlord's rate of return on investment. In determining such return, all relevant factors, including but not limited to the following shall be considered: the landlord's actual cash down payment, method of financing the property, and any federal or state tax benefits accruing to landlord as a result of ownership of the property;

9. Whether or not the property was acquired or is held as a long-term or short- term investment; and

10. Whether or not the landlord has received rent in violation of the terms of this chapter or has otherwise failed to comply with the chapter.

It is intent of this chapter that individual upward adjustments in the rent ceilings on units be made only when the landlord demonstrates that such adjustments are necessary to provide the landlord with a fair return on investment.

D. No individual upward adjustment of a rent ceiling shall be authorized by the board by reason of increased interest or other expenses resulting from the landlord's refinancing the rental unit if, at the time the landlord refinanced, the landlord could reasonably have foreseen that such increased expenses could not be covered by the rent schedule then in existence, except where such refinancing is necessary for the landlord to make capital improvements which meet the criteria set forth in Section 13.76.120 C.3. This paragraph shall only apply to that portion of the increased expenses resulting from the refinancing that were reasonably foreseeable at the time of the refinancing of the rental unit and shall only apply to rental units refinanced after the date of adoption of this chapter.

E. Except for cases of individual hardship as set forth in Subsection 13.76.120 I. of this chapter, no individual upward adjustment of a rent ceiling shall be authorized by the board because of the landlord's increased interest or other expenses resulting from the sale of the property, if at the time the landlord acquired the property, the landlord could have reasonably foreseen that such increased expenses would not be covered by the rent schedule then in effect. This Subsection (13.76.120 E.) shall only apply to rental units acquired after the date of adoption of this chapter.

F. No upward adjustment of an individual rent ceiling shall be authorized by the board under this Section if the landlord:

1. Has continued to fail to comply, after order of the board, with any provisions of this chapter and/or orders or regulations issued thereunder by the board, or

2. Has failed to bring the rental unit into compliance with the implied warranty of habitability.

G. Allowable rent increases pursuant to an individual upward adjustment of the rent ceiling shall become effective only after the landlord gives the tenant at least a thirty day written notice of such rent increase and the notice period expires.

H. If the board makes a downward individual adjustment of the rent ceiling, such rent decrease shall take effect no later than thirty days after the effective date set by the board for the downward adjustment.

I. No provision of this chapter shall be applied so as to prohibit the board from granting an individual rent adjustment that is demonstrated necessary by the landlord to provide the landlord with a fair return on investment.

(Ord. 5467-NS § 12, 1982: Ord. 5261-NS § 12, 1980.)