Rent and Eviction Control Laws

Rent & Eviction Control Laws

Although Rent Control laws and Eviction Control laws are two sides to the same coin, one should be careful to distinguish between the two. The ability to understand how each of these types of laws operate and interact with the other will make for both better informed landlords and tenants.

Rent Control

Rent Control laws are local by nature and are usually adopted by cities as a response to a shortage of housing and steadily rising rents, although some will argue that these laws are political in nature. Whatever the legislative intent behind these laws, local Rent Control laws regulate when and by what amount a landlord may increase a tenant’s rent. In areas that have adopted Rent Control Laws, rents are usually set by a local rent board which is charged with monitoring compliance with the local ordinance.

Bay Area Cities with local Rent Control Laws include:

-San Francisco

-Oakland

-Berkeley

However one should be aware that just because a rental property is located in a Rent Controlled Jurisdiction, does not necessary mean that the rental unit is automatically subject to Rent Control.  In some circumstances the local Rent Control Ordinance will automatically exempt rental units built after a particular date. For example in San Francisco residential units receiving their first certificate of occupancy after June 13, 1979 are exempt from the Ordinance.

Furthermore, in 1995 The California State Legislature passed the Costa-Hawkins Act, which further exempted certain types of units from local Rent Control Laws. In particular Single Family Homes and Condominiums. Note that Costa Hawkins does not exempt any units from Eviction Control.

Eviction Control

Rent Control Laws cannot exist without a coinciding Eviction Control ordinance. The reason being is that if a landlord has a tenant in a rent controlled unit who is paying below market rent, he/she is financially motivated to simply evict the tenant and reset the rent to market rate under the Costa Hawkins Act. Therefore Eviction Control is necessary in order to preserve Rent Controlled tenancies.

Eviction control laws operate to permit “Good (or Just) Cause for Eviction”. Good Cause to evict for a landlord is enumerated in each local ordinance and typically includes the following good causes for eviction:

-Non-payment of Rent

-Material Breach of the Lease

-Conducting illegal activity on the premises

-Owner Move-in

-Substantial Repairs to a unit are necessary

-The tenant has willfully damaged the property

-The tenant has refused the Landlord’s Right of Entry into the unit as allowed by law

Aside from Good Cause for Eviction a landlord also has one other very powerful, but financially dangerous tool to compel the eviction of a tenant – The Ellis Act. The Ellis Act Cal. Gov. Code §7060-7060.7, allows a landlord to effectively “Go out of Business” and thereby evict a tenant for the purpose of “permanently” removing residential property from the rental market.  Invoking the Ellis Act means that the property cannot be placed on the rental market for a period of ten years without legal consequence.

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