1274. Limit on Individual Increases

(A) Purpose

The purpose of this regulation is to protect tenants from substantial rent increases which are not affordable, and which may force such tenants to vacate their homes and result in consequences contrary to the stated purposes of the Ordinance, namely, to maintain the diversity of the Berkeley community, to preserve the public peace, health and safety, and advance the housing policies of the City with regard to low and fixed income persons, minorities, students, handicapped and the aged.

(B) Rent Increase Limit

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the implementation of a rent ceiling increase shall be limited each year as follows:

15% of the rent ceiling on the date the petition is filed, or $50 per month, whichever is greater, with a cap of $75 per month.

On January 1st of each year beginning in 1993, the $50.00 and $75.00 limitations shall be adjusted upward by 100% of the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers, for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metropolitan area, less its shelter component, for the twelve month period ending on the preceding June 30th, rounded to the nearest dollar.

For purposes of this limitation, increases authorized by Regulation 1113 shall be calculated separately from all other rent increases, and shall be added to the otherwise applicable rent.

If the amount of any rent increase granted under these regulations exceeds this limit, any portion in excess of the annual limit shall be deferred. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subsection (B), but subject to subsection (C), the portion of the Regulation 1113 adjustment which is deferred under this subsection (B) shall go into effect and may be implemented at any time on or after May 1, 1992. Except in the case of a Regulation 1113 adjustment, the deferred amounts shall be computed by calendar years, until the entire increase granted is implemented.

Except to the extent of a Regulation 1113 adjustment, this deferred increase shall go into effect on January 1 of each year and shall be implemented as follows:

(1) Compute the total amount, as limited above, that the owner would receive for the calendar year were the increase to take place on the anniversary date of the decision;

(2) Divide this total yearly amount by twelve months.

The rent increase limit for the first calendar year may then be calculated with the following formula: C = RL/12 months

C = Amount of rent increase that goes into effect on the January 1 following the Hearing Examiner's decision.

R = Number of months remaining in the calendar year from the effective date of the increase.

L = The limit

For subsequent calendar years the rent will increase by L until the final year in which the deferred amount is to be applied. In that year, apply the remaining deferred amount.

The rent increase limit of this subsection (B) does not apply to the following situations:

1. Annual General Adjustments granted by the Board;

2. Landlord and tenant agreements to an increase schedule which exceeds these limits;

3. Units which are vacant, where the vacancy was voluntary or the result of an eviction for any of the good causes listed in Section 13 of the Ordinance except for 13(a)(8), 13(a)(9), or 13(a)(10);

4. Units which subsequently become vacant, where the vacancy was voluntary or the result of an eviction for any of the good causes listed in Section 13 of the Ordinance except for 13(a)(8), 13(a)(9), 13(a)(10);

5. Rent increases granted for an increase in the number of tenants under Regulation 1270;

6. Rent increases which are subject to the Rent Increase Phase-In provided by subsection (C);

7. Temporary rent adjustments granted under Regulation 1281 in cases where the Board finds that a different implementation schedule is appropriate.

(C) Rent Increase Phase-In for Limited Income Tenants. 

(1) Eligibility Standard. 

(a) The Rent Increase Phase-In authorized by this subsection (C) shall apply only to rent increases implemented pursuant to Regulation 1113 or Regulation 1280.

(b) Increases shall be subject to this subsection (C) for so long as:

the monthly rent allowed under this regulation exceeds one-twelfth of 30% of the household's annual gross income as published for Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of l937; and

at least one tenant who resided in the affected unit at the date the landlord filed a petition under Regulation 1280, or, with respect to an increase under Regulation 1113, who resided in the affected unit on the date the landlord first increased the rent under that regulation, continues to reside there, and either:

(i) that tenant receives general assistance pursuant to California Welfare & Institutions Code Sections 17000 et seq., Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance; or

(ii) the household's income is less than the lower income limit for a household of the applicable size published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Oakland PMSA. The Executive Director or his or her designee shall make available, as an appendix to this regulation or by some other means, the applicable income limits.

(c) Prior to January 1, 1992, the amount of a rent increase authorized by Regulation 1113(5) shall be limited to 10% of the tenant's actual rent prior to the Regulation 1113 adjustment, provided the tenant gives notice of qualification for this Rent Increase Phase-In, as described in subsection (C)(3)(a) If the first phase of a rent increase limited by this subsection is implemented prior to January 1, 1992, no increase may be implemented during calendar year 1992 under Regulation 1113 and/or Regulation 1280 unless the increase is necessary to equal the increase allowed under subsection (C)(1)(d) below.

(d) On or after January 1, 1992, increases subject to this subsection (C) implemented during any calendar year shall be limited to the greater of:

(i) ten percent (10%) of the lawful rent ceiling in effect on September 1 of the prior calendar year; or

(ii) the amount which increases the rent to 30% of one-twelfth of the household's annual gross income as published for Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. For purposes of this subsection (C), income is defined to include only the following categories: wages, salaries, and other monetary compensation; business and professional income; interest and dividends; income received as beneficiary of a trust; periodic payments such as social security, retirement funds, pensions, annuities, and royalties; payments in lieu of earnings, such as unemployment and disability; welfare assistance; alimony and child support. Earned income of household members under the age of eighteen is not income for purposes of this regulation.

(e) Increases in years subsequent to the year in which a household first qualified for the Rent Increase Phase-In and during which such household remains eligible shall be limited to ten percent (10%) of the sum of: the lawful rent ceiling in effect on September 1, 1991 and any Regulation 1113 and/or Regulation 1280 rent increases permitted to be implemented after October, 1991.

(2) Grounds for Disqualification. 

(a) A household shall be disqualified from the Rent Increase Phase-In if any member of the household over the age of eighteen and under the age of sixty-five was claimed as a dependent on the federal or state income tax return for the most recently completed tax year of any person whose principal residence is not the household in question unless the eligibility of a household is based upon subsection (C)(1)(b)(i).

(b) No tenant or household shall qualify for the Rent Increase Phase-In if the household occupying the unit in question contains less than one person for each bedroom, unless at least one tenant in the household is disabled as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.) or is over the age of 65. A bedroom, for purposes of this regulation, shall include a room intended for sleeping which conforms to the provisions of Chapter 5 of the Uniform Housing Code, being not smaller than seventy (70) square feet in floor area with a ceiling height not less than seven (7) feet six (6) inches.

(3) Determination of Eligibility. 

(a) To obtain a Rent Increase Phase-In, a tenant must mail to the landlord and file with the Board, within twenty (20) days after service of the rent increase notice, a statement that the tenant's household qualifies for the phase-in. Unless the landlord files a written objection with the Board within ten (10) days of receipt of the tenant's statement, the Rent Increase Phase-In shall become effective.

If a landlord files a timely, written objection with the Board, the tenant shall be required to complete and file a Declaration of Household Income, on a form supplied by the Board. The Executive Director or his or her designee shall thereafter administratively determine if the household qualifies based upon the information supplied in the Declaration. Refusal to supply information verifying income may be grounds for disqualification.

After a tenant gives notice of the household's eligibility and until the administrative determination of eligibility, the rent increase shall be limited pursuant to subsection (C)(1). If it is determined that a household does not qualify for the Rent Increase Phase-In or has underpaid rent pursuant to this subsection, the tenant(s) shall be liable for the amount of the rent increase which was not paid.

A landlord or tenant who objects to the determination of the Executive Director or his or her designee, may appeal the determination by filing an individual petition with the Board no more than fifteen (15) days after the administrative determination, pursuant to the applicable provisions of Chapter 12 of these Regulations.

(b) Eligibility for application of this subsection (C) to a rent increase under Regulation 1280 shall be determined consistently with the terms of that regulation.

(c) If a landlord alleges in writing on a form supplied by the Board that a unit no longer qualifies for the phase-in, in whole or part, the Executive Director or his or her designee shall determine whether the unit qualifies. A party may contest this determination by filing a petition with the Board pursuant to Chapter 12 of these Regulations. The petition must be on a form approved by the Board and filed within fifteen (15) days of the mailing of the determination.

(4) Relation to Other Rent Increases. The limitation of this subsection (C) shall apply only to rent increases authorized under Regulation 1113 or Regulation 1280. Where rent increases are authorized under both Regulation 1113 and Regulation 1280, the limitation of this subsection (C) shall apply to the total of the two increases provided the tenant had timely applied for limitation for both increases pursuant to this subsection (C). Other rent increases authorized for the same units during the same year shall be subject only to subsection (B) of this Regulation 1274.

[Amended December 26, 1992 and December 5, 1997]