The Berkeley Rent Ordinance consists of a rent control component, which protects tenants from drastic rent increases, and a just cause for eviction component, which limits when a landlord may serve an eviction. Despite providing tenants numerous protections, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance does not cover every tenancy. Continue reading to learn the Berkeley Rent Ordinance basics, including whether your tenancy is covered.

Berkeley Rent Ordinance Coverage

Generally, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance’s Rent Control provisions cover rental units in a multi-unit building that have a certificate of occupancy issued on or before June 30, 1980. However, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance exempts several types of units from rent control coverage, including:

  1. Units owned by a government entity;
  2. Hotel, motel, inns where the tenant has not lived in the same room for fourteen continuous days or more;
  3. Units part of a nonprofit cooperative that is owned and controlled by a majority of the residents;
  4. Units leased to tenants assisted by Section 8 or the Shelter Plus Care Program, or any similarly federally funded rent subsidy program, except where the landlord collects rent over what the federal program permits;
  5. Hospital, skilled nursing facility, health facility, asylum, or non-profit home for the aged;
  6. Duplex units where the owner occupied one unit as their principal residence on December 31, 1979 and is the owner’s current principal residence;
  7. Any unit where the landlord shares a kitchen or bathroom facilities with the tenant and occupies the same property as their principal residence;
  8. Units owned by nonprofit accredited higher education schools where the tenant is a student, faculty, or staff;
  9. Units owned by an organization exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and rented to low-income tenants where the government sets the below-market-rate rent;
  10. Units owned by treatment, recovery, therapy, or shelter programs for clients where the client has been informed, at the start of treatment, of the temporary nature of the housing;
  11. Units rented by an active fraternity or sorority member recognized by UC Berkeley;
  12. Units in a lawful and fully permitted accessory dwelling unit, where the landlord resides in the main home as their principal residence.

Please note that even if the Berkeley Rent Ordinance does not cover your tenancy, California Rent Control may cover your tenancy. Click here to learn about California Rent Control.

Berkeley Rent Ordinance’s Rent Control

The Berkeley Rent Ordinance’s rent control portion limits the amount a landlord may increase a tenant’s rent each year. Rent control covers tenancies in multi-unit buildings built on or before June 30, 1980. Each year, the Berkeley Rent Board publishes the annual general adjustment percentage, which is tied to the consumer price index for all urban consumers in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose region. For tenancies covered by Berkeley Rent Control, a landlord is not permitted to increase the rent more than the annual general adjustment.

Click here to see the Annual General Adjustment for the current year.

Although a landlord cannot increase rent by more than the annual general adjustment, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance permits landlords to bank, or save, annual general adjustments. Through banking, a landlord can impose an accumulated rent increase on the tenant in a later year.

In addition to annual allowable increases, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance permits a landlord to petition the Rent Board for an individual rent increase for certain reasons. Under the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, a landlord can petition to increase the rent for, in part, increased occupancy, capital improvements, or due to a change in space or services. A tenant has the right to contest a landlord petition for rent increase. Notably, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance permits a tenant to file a petition for a decrease in services for, in part, substantial deterioration of the unit, the landlord’s failure to provide adequate services, or breach of the rental agreement.

Has your landlord tried to evict you or increase your rent in violation of the Berkeley Rent Ordinance?

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Berkeley Rent Ordinance’s Eviction Protections

The Berkeley Rent Ordinance’s eviction limitations component requires a landlord to have a just cause to evict a tenant from their rent-controlled unit. Berkeley eviction protections cover most rental units in Berkeley, even illegal units. Under the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, a landlord may only evict a tenant where:

  1. The tenant has not paid rent;
  2. The tenant has substantially breached their lease and failed to fix the breach;
  3. The has substantially damaged the unit and has ignored requests to stop, correct, or pay for repairs;
  4. The tenant refuses to sign a substantially similar written lease renewal;
  5. The tenant is creating or allowing a nuisance at the property;
  6. The tenant is refusing to allow the landlord, or his or her agent, to lawfully access the unit;
  7. The owner seeks to undertake substantial repairs necessary to make the property code compliant or correct an outstanding notice of violation that cannot be completed while the unit is occupied, and the owner has secured all necessary permits. The tenant has a right of first refusal to return to the unit;
  8. The owner seeks to demolish the unit, and has secured all necessary permits;
  9. The landlord seeks to evict so that the landlord, or a relative, can move into the rental unit as their principal place of residence;
  10. The owner seeks, in good faith, to recover possession of the unit for their occupancy as a principal residence where the landlord previously occupied the unit as their principal residence and has the right to recover possession through a written agreement with the tenant; or,
  11. Following the completion of repair work, the tenant refuses to vacate a temporary unit provided by the owner during substantial repairs being undertaken to make the property code compliant or correct a notice of violation.

Please note that Berkeley Rent Ordinance eviction protections do not apply to duplex units where the owner occupied one unit as their principal residence on December 31, 1979 and is the unit is the owner’s current principal residence.

Landlords may not recover possession unless at least one of the aforementioned just causes for eviction exists, and if the landlord has good cause recovering possession.

To evict a tenant, the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of the just cause of eviction he or she is exercising. The landlord must file a copy of the termination of tenancy notice with the Berkeley Rent Board within ten days of serving the notice on the tenant.

Money Damages Recovered For Berkeley Rent Ordinance Violations & Wrongful Eviction

Berkeley tenants with rent control and just cause eviction protections can exert their rights and recover money damages in a lawsuit for violations of the Berkeley Rent Ordinance. A wrongfully evicted tenant can recover the value of the lost Berkeley Rent Ordinance protected unit they were forced to vacate. Additionally, a wrongfully evicted tenant can recover for their landlord’s failure to pay relocation assistance.

If you have been wrongfully evicted, or are facing the prospect of wrongful eviction, in violation of the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, contact Astanehe Law for a legal information call.

If your landlord has violated the Berkeley Rent Ordinance, contact Astanehe Law immediately at (415) 226-7170 or for your legal information call. One of our experienced tenants’ rights attorneys will be able to speak with you and equip you with the knowledge necessary to fight back against your landlord’s abuse. Astanehe Law knows tenant rights!