The Fairfax Rent Ordinance’s eviction control protections (“Fairfax Rent Control”) keep Fairfax tenants housed by limiting rent increases to reasonable amounts. For units protected by Fairfax Rent Control, the landlord may not increase the rent in an amount greater than an amount set by the Town of Fairfax, which the Town adjusts annually. Fairfax Rent Control defines this amount as the annual general adjustment.

What Units Are Covered Under Fairfax Rent Control?

Only controlled rental units are subject to Fairfax Rent Control. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.020. Controlled rental units are all units in the Town of Fairfax, except:

  • Fairfax rental units in hotels, motels, inns, or other units rented primarily to transients for fewer than thirty (30) days;
  • Fairfax rental units in hospitals, convents, monasteries, extended medical care facilities, nonprofit homes for the aged, or university dorms solely owned and operated by an accredited post-high school institution;
  • Fairfax rental units in government agency or authority owns, operates, or manages buildings, provided a law or regulation specifically exempts such units from municipal rent control;
  • Fairfax rental units exempt from rent control due to Costa-Hawkins, which include single-family homes, condominiums, and all buildings constructed after February 1995. Please note that some of these units may be covered under California Rent Control;
  • Private, for-profit care homes, assisted care facilities, and supportive housing; and,
  • Fairfax rental units subject to affordable housing restrictions as defined by California Health & Safety Code section 50053. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.030.

Under Fairfax Rent Control, How Much Can a Landlord Increase the Rent?

Each year, the Fairfax Rent Board announces the permissible annual adjustment. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080. The annual general adjustment typically takes effect on September 1st that year.

How Do Tenants Calculate Their Fairfax Rent Control Base Rent?

For tenancies existing on or before February 2, 2022, the rent in effect on that date shall become the base rent for purposes of Fairfax Rent Control. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080. If there was no base rent in effect on February 2, 2022, the base rent shall be the rent charged on the first date that landlord charges rent after February 2, 2022. That is, for tenancies created after February 2, 2022, the base rent shall be the initial rent charged for the Fairfax rental unit.

Are Fairfax Landlords Required to Post the Annual General Adjustment at the Fairfax Property?

Yes. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080. Fairfax landlords must post a notice setting for the annual general adjustment in a prominent place at the property.

Can a Tenant Petition the Town of Fairfax for a Lower Rent?

Yes, Fairfax tenants may petition the Town of Fairfax for a lower annual general adjustment. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080. In determining whether to decrease a Fairfax tenant’s rent, the hearing examiner may consider loss of services, habitability issues, substantial unit deterioration, the landlords failure to provide adequate housing services, or the landlord’s failure to comply substantially with housing, health, and safety codes.

How Much Notice is Required for a Fairfax Rent Control Rent Increase?

Usually, the landlord need only provide thirty (30) days’ notice. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080.

Are Fairfax Tenants Required to Pay a Direct Charge for Utilities?

No. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.080. The landlord may not charge a Fairfax tenant for utility charges indirectly. The landlord may only pass on a utility charge to a Fairfax tenant where the utility service is separately or individually metered. Further, the utility must be registered to the Fairfax tenant, and not the landlord.

Does Fairfax Rent Control Permit Rent Increase Banking?

Presently, it is unclear if Fairfax Rent Control permits for rent increase banking.

What Damages May Fairfax Tenants Recover for Landlord Violations of Fairfax Rent Control?

The Fairfax Rent Ordinance contains a private right of action for landlord violations. Fairfax Town Code §§ 5.54.030, 5.54.070.

Fairfax tenants may seek injunctive relief, equitable relief, and money damages, including actual damages and emotional distress damages for landlord violations of the Fairfax Rent Ordinance. Fairfax Town Code § 5.54.030. Where the landlord attempts or actually wrongfully evicts a Fairfax tenant, the Fairfax tenant’s damages are tripled. After the Fairfax tenant prevails at trial, they may recover their reasonable attorney fees.

Where a landlord fails to pay relocation assistance as required by the Fairfax Rent Ordinance, the Fairfax tenant may commence litigation seeking unpaid relocation assistance. Fairfax Town Code § 5.54.050.

Where a landlord demands, accepts, receives, or retains any payment of unlawful rent, the landlord shall be liable to the Fairfax tenant in court. Fairfax Town Code § 5.55.110. The Fairfax tenant may recover their actual damages, attorney fees, and court costs. Further, the Fairfax tenant may obtain a civil penalty treble the amount of unlawful rent demanded, accepted, received, or retained shall be awarded where the Fairfax landlord acts willfully, or with oppression, fraud, or malice.

To discuss the Fairfax Rent Ordinance, Fairfax Ellis Act Evictions, Fairfax Owner Move-In Evictions, Fairfax Rent Control, Fairfax wrongful evictions, or California Rent Control (AB 1482) with a tenant attorney, contact Astanehe Law.