New Laws Affecting Rental Properties
Brief summaries of recent changes to Rent Board Regulations, and new state and local laws affecting rental properties.
Recent Rent Board Regulation changes
Regulation 801 - Amended to clarify that landlords must file certain rent registration statements for units required to be registered pursuant to recently-enacted Measure MM. Amended January 20, 2022.
Regulation 1311 - Amended to clarify that a landlord’s failure to file registration statements as articulated in amended Regulation 801(D) shall be a defense to any action for possession. Amended January 20, 2022.
Regulation 503 - Amended to eliminate the “sunset” provision in 503(B)(2) as stated in 503(E). Amended October 21, 2021.
Recent state or local law changes
New Registration Requirements for Partially Covered Units
Measure MM (passed by Berkeley voters in 2020) requires rented single-family homes, rented condominiums, and newly constructed rental units to be registered with the Rent Board. These units are exempt from rent control, but not from the good cause for eviction requirements. Registration generally includes an annual fee and the filing of registration forms. The Registration requirements do not apply to landlords who only own a single-family home and who will be temporarily absent from it for not more than two years, provided they live in the home for one year before renting it out, and the period of absence is specified in the lease.
Measure MM also clarified that the full exemption for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) only applies to properties that contain one single-family home, and one ADU.
The City of Berkeley declared a local state of emergency and passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance in March 2020, banning evictions except for those pursuant to the Ellis Act or necessary for the health and safety of the residents. An amendment prohibiting Ellis Act evictions will go into effect on July 1, 2022. The law establishes a repayment period to pay back rent owed due to COVID-19. (This time period was altered by state law). Tenants have until May 31, 2023, or one year from when the local state of emergency ends, whichever is sooner, to pay back rent owed from March 17, 2020, to September 30, 2021, due to COVID-19. The law is subject to change, as with other emergency rules and laws addressing the COVID-19 crisis, so check the Rent Board's COVID-19 page for updates.
State Law Limiting Evictions Due to COVID-19
State law (AB 3088, SB 91, and AB 832) prohibits landlords from evicting residential tenants who are unable to pay rent because of COVID-19-related financial distress. All court actions related to COVID-19 rental debt were prohibited until October 1, 2021.
Certain tenant protections continue after October 1, 2021. For the covered period of March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, landlords must have provided a minimum 15-day eviction notice with a declaration form a tenant can use to confirm if the unpaid rent was due to COVID-19. Tenants must return the declaration to be protected. More documentation may be required for tenants earning more than 130% of the county median household income.
In addition, tenants must pay back at least 25% of the rent they owe between September 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, no later than September 30, 2021, to be protected from eviction. Unpaid rent that cannot serve as a basis to evict may be claimed as consumer debt by the landlord and recovered in small claims court after the repayment period ends as provided under the local state of emergency (see above).
Funding has been allocated towards state rental assistance for 100% of unpaid rent due to COVID-19 for low-income tenant households (≤ 80% Area Median Income) at risk of homelessness. Applying for rental assistance may also provide a defense to an eviction action. Visit our website for more information.
Mortgage relief is available for homeowners and landlords with four or fewer properties with difficulty making mortgage payments due to COVID-19. Contact your mortgage servicer directly.
Both during and after the local State of Emergency, late fees are prohibited for tenants who have provided a declaration of COVID-19 related financial distress.
The law is subject to change, as with other emergency rules and laws addressing the COVID-19 crisis, so check the Rent Board's COVID-19 page for updates.
The standard relocation assistance payment to tenants for Ellis Act and Owner Move-in (OMI) evictions increased from $16,341 to $16,864, with the additional payment of $5,447 increased to $5,621 for low-income, disabled, elderly, families with minor children, or tenancies that began prior to 1999.
Prohibits the use of criminal history in housing decisions.
AB 1482, Statewide Anti-Rent Gouging and Just Cause for Eviction Protections
Effective January 1, 2020, AB 1482 limits annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation and requires just cause to evict tenants who have lived in their unit for at least one year. The state law does not override local rent controls with stronger protections, like the Berkeley Rent Ordinance. The statewide rent cap does not apply to certain units, including those that are less than 15 years old, single-family homes owned by a natural person, owner-occupied duplexes, and government-subsidized housing (e.g. Section 8, Shelter Plus Care). Accordingly, some units that are partially or fully exempt from the Berkeley Rent Ordinance will be subject to the statewide rent cap. These include single-family homes that are owned by certain corporate entities and units that were built after 1980, but more than 15 years ago.