Rent limits and just cause urgency ordinance

New state law (Assembly Bill 1482 Tenant Protection Act of 2019) provides an annual rent cap of 5% plus Consumer Price Index (CPI) and just cause eviction protections for residential tenancies beginning January 1, 2020. To prevent the displacement of vulnerable residents, the Menlo Park City Council passed an urgency ordinance (Ordinance No. 1063) to enact the law locally, beginning on November 12, 2019. The City's ordinance remained in effect within the Menlo Park city limits from November 12, 2019 through December 31, 2019, which provided tenants with a legal defense to certain unlawful detainer actions prior to state law taking effect on January 1, 2020.

Rent increase limits

Annual rent increases are limited to 5% plus CPI, or 10%, whichever is lower. 

  • Within incorporated Menlo Park, rent increase notices served on or after September 12, 2019, shall not exceed the maximum increase limit, which is 9%
  • Rent cannot be increased more than twice in one year and the total increase must not exceed the maximum increase limit
  • Certain exemptions apply based on building type
  • Excluded housing: 
    • New housing with certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years
    • Government subsidized or below market rate housing with rent based on income level
    • Single family homes or condos with no corporate ownership
    • Duplexes if the owner lives in the other unit
    • College dorms
    • Mobile homes and RVs in mobile home parks that are owned by the occupant

Just cause eviction protections

Landlords/owners need a valid reason to evict a tenant, which are identified by the following categories.

  • At-fault eviction (nonpayment of rent, breach of lease, etc.).
  • No-fault eviction (owner or family member intends to occupy the unit, intent to substantially remodel, etc.); no-fault eviction notices require relocation payments to the tenant 
    • One month rent relocation payment is required for all tenants or if tenant qualifies for the Menlo Park Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance up to three to four months relocation payment is required
  • Certain restrictions and exemptions apply based on building type and term of occupancy
  • Just cause protection requires at least 12 months of tenancy
  • If a new tenant has been added to a lease, one or more of the existing tenants must have continuous tenancy of 24 months or more
  • Excluded housing:
    • New housing with certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years
    • Government subsidized or below market rate housing with rent based on income level
    • Single family homes or condos with no corporate ownership
    • Duplexes if the owner lives in the other unit
    • College dorms
    • Hotels
    • Extended care and adult residential facility
    • Co-housing where owner shares kitchen or bathroom
    • ADU’s where owner occupies main unit

FAQs

What if the rent amount increased over nine percent (9%) prior to November 12, 2019?

If your rent has increased more than nine percent (9%) between March 15, 2019 and November 12, 2019:

  • Your rent must be reduced to what you were paying on March 15, 2019, plus nine percent 9%
  • If a landlord attempts to evict a tenant for not paying rent, the tenant may have a legal defense and should consult with a lawyer before withholding rent

If your rent has not increased between March 15, 2019 and November 12, 2019:

  • You can receive up to two more increases before March 15, 2020, not to exceed nine percent (9%) above your March 15, 2019 rent

If a tenant moves out and the unit becomes vacant, can the rent be raised more than nine percent (9%)?

Yes, the new law does not affect a landlord/owner’s right to raise the rent once a tenant vacates the unit. However, once a new tenant is placed in the unit, any future rent increases are subject to rent limit laws.

What is the difference between at-fault and no-fault just cause eviction?

  • At-fault eviction causes are based on the actions or activities of the tenant.
  • No-fault eviction causes are based on the owner’s actions or the owner’s compliance with a government entity. No-fault eviction causes are not based on the actions of the renter.

What type of renter violations are included in an at-fault just cause eviction?

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Violation of the lease terms
  • Nuisance
  • Waste (damage to the property)
  • Refusal to execute a similar new lease
  • Criminal activity
  • Subletting in violation of the lease
  • Denying access to the unit
  • Using the premises for unlawful purposes
  • An employee (e.g. resident manager), agent or licensee’s failure to vacate after their termination
  • Failure to vacate the unit following written notice to the owner of the renter’s intention to terminate the lease, which the owner has accepted in writing.

What type of renter violations are included in a no-fault just cause eviction?

  • Owner or family member intends to occupy the unit
  • Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
  • Intent to demolish or substantially remodel the unit
  • Owner is complying with a local ordinance, court order, or other government entity resulting in the tenant needing to vacate the property

When is the landlord/owner required to pay relocation assistance to the tenant?

When the termination of a tenant rental agreement is based on a no-fault cause, the renter is entitled to a relocation assistance payment or rent waiver.

  • One (1) month rent relocation payment is required for all tenants evicted for no-fault cause or if tenant qualifies for the Menlo Park Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance up to three (3) to four (4) months relocation payment is required.

What if a landlord/owner fails to pay relocation assistance?

The notice of termination to evict the tenant is no longer valid and becomes void.

How long does a landlord/owner have to issue relocation payment or rent waiver?

The landlord/owner has 15 calendar days to issue the payment or rent waiver.

May the landlord/owner pay part of relocation assistance and part in rent waiver?

No, AB 1482 does not account for this type of payment structure. The landlord may choose one form of relocation assistance compensation.

Are there organizations who can help me with legal concerns and questions?

Yes, please contact either of the following free legal assistance organizations.

  • Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto
  • Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County

Contact us

Adam Patterson
Management Analyst II
Email

650-330-6625