12-month lease ordinance

On December 6, 2016, the City Council passed a 12-month lease ordinance finding that tenants have a right to a written lease and that a contractual relationship with a landlord may offer some needed assurances of stability and minimize displacement of tenants in a rental housing market affording tenants few and increasingly expensive options.

What rental units does the ordinance cover?

The ordinance applies to multi-family rental properties, with four or more units.
Rental units not included in the 12-month lease ordinance are:

  • Single-family dwellings
  • Rooms in hotels which are rented for a period of less than thirty (30) consecutive days
  • Units in a condominium, community apartment or planned unit development
  • Accommodations in a hospital, skilled nursing, health or care facility, extended-care facility, nonprofit home for the aged
  • Units shared by landlord and tenant
  • Accessory dwelling units
  • Duplexes and triplexes
  • Units rented by a medical institution which are then subleased to a patient or patient’s family
  • Units whose rents are controlled or regulated by any government unit, agency or authority, or whose rent is subsidized by any government unit, agency or authority
  • Units acquired by the city or any other governmental unit, agency or authority intended to be used for public purposes
  • Units in unincorporated Menlo Park

When is the 12-month lease ordinance effective?

This ordinance became effective March 6, 2017.

What is required of the landlord/property owner/property management company? 

A landlord shall offer a tenant or prospective tenant a written lease with a minimum term of one (1) year every twelve months. The written offer must include both the English and Spanish paragraphs below, in all capital letters and in at least size fourteen (14) font:
THE MENLO PARK CITY CODE PROVIDES YOU WITH THE RIGHT TO A WRITTEN LEASE. LANDLORDS MUST OFFER TENANTS THE OPTION TO ENTER INTO A ONE (1) YEAR WRITTEN LEASE. IT IS THE TENANT'S CHOICE WHETHER TO ENTER INTO SUCH A WRITTEN LEASE WITH A LANDLORD. FURTHER INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON THE CITY'S WEBSITE (MENLOPARK.ORG).

EL CODIGO DE LA CIUDAD DE MENLO PARK LE PROPORCIONA EL DERECHO A UN CONTRATO DE ARRENDAMIENTO POR ESCRITO. LOS PROPIETARIOS DEBEN OFRECER A LOS INQUILINOS LA OPCION DE TENER UN CONTRATO DE ARRENDAMIENTO POR ESCRITO POR UN TIEMPO MINIMO QUE INCLUYE UN OPCION: UN ANO. ES LA OPCION DEL INQUILINO SI ESCOGE TIPO CONTRATO POR ESCRITO CON DEL DUENO. PARA MAS INFORMACION VISITE EL SITIO WEB DE LA CIUDAD (MENLOPARK.ORG).

Contact us

Mike Noce

Acting Housing Manager
Email

650-330-6624

FAQs

Where can I find the ordinance?

Does this ordinance apply to current tenants or new tenants?

It applies to all tenants, both current and prospective.

When does the landlord need to offer a one year lease to a tenant?

A one year lease must be offered to a tenant, in writing, every twelve months.

  • If there is no current written lease agreement (commonly known as month-to-month), a one year lease must be offered within thirty days of the ordinance taking effect April 5, 2017.
  • If there is a current written lease agreement, with an expiration date in place, a one year lease must be offered when the lease expires.

How do landlords prove they offered a one year lease to their tenants?

The ordinance does not specify how to prove a one year lease was offered. It is a best practice for landlords to keep track of offering tenants a one year lease and keep all of the signed rejected/accepted offers. The ordinance does specify, “a rejection of the offer must be documented in writing and signed by the tenant” and “signing of a lease which has a minimum term of one year shall be considered an offer in writing.”

Is there a specific document for landlords and/or tenants to sign?

No. The landlord is responsible for providing this documentation the tenants. Remember, the one year lease offer must be in writing and the specified language (in question above) must be included in the lease agreement.

What if the tenant does not respond to the landlord’s 12-month lease offer?

That would be up to a court to determine, not the City. Question of fact as to whether they received and rejected/didn’t accept the offer, or whether never received the offer unless you have proof of delivery.

It is recommended the landlord send the tenant a notification by certified mail.

What happens if a tenant does not want a one year lease?

A tenant may reject the one year lease option. A rejection of the offer must be documented in writing and signed by the tenant.

May the landlord and tenant agree to terms shorter or longer than a one year lease?

Landlords must offer tenants a one year lease, but the landlord and tenant may agree to other rental terms.

A landlord offers a tenant a one year lease and the tenant declines it. Within the one year, the tenant changes their mind and asks for a one year lease. Does the landlord have to give them a one year

No. Landlord are only obligated to offer tenants a one year lease every twelve months.

A landlord offers a tenant a one year lease but they both agree to and sign a six-month lease. At month three, the tenant wants a one year lease. Does a landlord need to offer a one year lease?

No. The landlord is only obligated to offer a tenant a one year lease every twelve months. Even after the six-month lease is up, the landlord does not need to offer the tenant a one year lease.

Is the landlord required to offer a one year lease to a tenant if they do not want to rent to them anymore?

No. The decision to renew a lease is between the landlord and tenant.

Can a landlord change rates within the one-year lease?

The ordinance does not address rate increases, but if the landlord and tenant agree to a rate increase within the lease agreement, it should be written within the contract of the lease agreement.

What happens if a tenant was not offered a 12-month lease?

The ordinance provides a tenant with the opportunity to file a civil claim against the landlord. For free legal advice, contact Community Legal Services. As an alternative, Project Sentinel offers free tenant/landlord dispute mediation.