Ellis Act Eviction
Under state law, Berkeley property owners can evict tenants to remove units from the rental housing market, but must follow Berkeley’s Ellis Implementation Ordinance to do so.
Effective October 29, 2022, Berkeley’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Ordinance (Berkeley Municipal Code section 13.110) prohibits evictions under the Ellis Act during the local state of emergency. The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board will not accept any Ellis Act notices or relocation payments while this prohibition is in effect.
Under a state law called the Ellis Act (CA Gov. Code Sec. 7060 et seq.), an owner can evict tenants in order to withdraw a rental property from the rental housing market. A local ordinance, Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 13.77, establishes specific procedures under the state law. We strongly urge you to get legal advice if you are an owner attempting to withdraw a property from the rental market, or a tenant who has received a 120-day (or one year in some cases) Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations.
Process for withdrawing residential rental property from the rental housing market
To comply with the Ellis Implementation Ordinance, you must meet the following conditions and obligations:
- You must withdraw all accommodations on your property from the rental market. Accommodations are defined as “the residential rental units in any detached physical structure containing four or more residential rental units” or “[w]ith respect to a detached physical structure containing three or fewer residential rental units, the residential rental units in that structure and in any other structure located on the same parcel of land…” (See CA Govt Code Sec. 7060 and 7060.7 and BMC 13.77.050.A.1.)
- You must pay administrative fees to cover the costs of administering the Ellis Implementation Ordinance. Please see the Rent Board's Administrative Fee Schedule for the current fees. Fees must be paid before the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations is given to the tenants; otherwise, the notice is invalid. (BMC 13.77.070.)
- You must give your tenants at least 120 days’ notice of your intent to withdraw your units from the rental market. The notice period increases to twelve months for senior and/or disabled tenants who have lived in a unit for one year or more. (See BMC 13.77.050.A.8.)
- You must deposit with the Rent Board an initial relocation assistance payment of $18,011 for the household of each accommodation that is withdrawn from the market. You may be required to deposit an additional $6,003 to tenant households that qualify as low income or include disabled or elderly tenants, minor children, or a tenant whose tenancy began prior to January 1, 1999. (BMC 13.77.055.)
- You must offer to those tenants who expressed an interest, the opportunity to re-establish their tenancy in your property if you choose to re-rent the property within ten years of the date you withdrew the units from the rental housing market. (BMC 13.77.040.)
- You must notify the City of Berkeley of your intent to re-rent your property.
- Going out of the rental housing business does not give you a right to change the use of your property. (BMC 13.77.020.B.)
No vacancy increase for five years
Once a Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations has been filed with the Rent Board, no vacancy rent increase may be taken on the affected rent-controlled units during the five-year period following the date the notice is filed or the actual date of withdrawal, whichever is later. This prohibition applies even if the Notice of Intent is subsequently rescinded or the withdrawal of the units from the market is never completed. Once a Notice of Intent to Withdraw is filed, the rent on the units covered by the notice may be increased only as authorized by the Rent Board, no matter how many vacancies occur during the next five years. (BMC 13.77.040.A.)
Relocation assistance payment procedures
All households receiving a Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations From Rent or Lease are entitled to a minimum of $18,011 in relocation assistance.
Qualifying households can submit a claim to an additional $6,003 in relocation assistance if the household:
- Qualifies as low income
- Includes disabled or elderly tenants, or minor children
- Has a tenant whose tenancy began before January 1, 1999
Depositing relocation assistance funds with the Rent Board
The relocation assistance must be deposited with the Rent Board when the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations is filed with the Board. The funds will be held in trust for each household until requested in writing by the tenants who are being displaced. (BMC 13.77.055.B.)
Written claim for additional relocation assistance funds necessary
Households that qualify for the additional relocation assistance must submit a written claim of entitlement to the owner and the Rent Board no more than 30 days from the date the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations is personally delivered or mailed. (BMC 13.77.055.D.)
Section 13.77.050.A.1 of the Ordinance requires that, along with the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations, the owner must provide two stamped addressed postcards that the tenant household can complete and return, and thereby use to claim a right to additional relocation assistance. Suggested language for the postcard (copy, clip, and affix to the postcard, if desired):
To Whom It Concerns:
My household is entitled to $6,003 in additional relocation assistance because:
____ My household’s annual income does not exceed the qualifying limits; or
____ I am over the age of 60.
____ I am disabled.
____ I am the parent of a minor child who lives with me in the unit.
____ My tenancy began prior to January 1, 1999.
Print Name: __________________ Address: ________________________
One of the postcards should be addressed to yourself (the owner); the other should be addressed to:
City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
2125 Milvia Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Depositing the additional payment with the Rent Board
When you receive a claim for additional relocation assistance, you must, within 10 days of the date the claim is mailed, deposit $6,003 with the Rent Board. These additional funds will also be held in escrow for the household claiming a right to the relocation assistance. (BMC 13.77.055.D.)
Challenging a claim to the additional payment
If you want to challenge the household’s eligibility for the relocation assistance, you must file a written challenge of the household’s eligibility within 10 days of the date the claim is mailed. (BMC 13.77.055.D.1.) (Note: Filing a challenge does not pause or excuse the obligation to deposit money into escrow.) If the claim of eligibility is challenged, the deposited money will be held by the Board until the Board receives an agreement of the parties or a court order stating how the money is to be distributed. (BMC 13.77.055.D.2.) A dispute regarding the eligibility for the additional relocation payment may also be resolved by an order of a City or Rent Board hearing examiner issued pursuant to a petition process conducted in accordance with applicable Rent Board regulations. If no challenge is filed, the money will be distributed upon receipt of a request from the tenants.
Date property is withdrawn from the rental market
Generally, a property is legally withdrawn from the rental housing market:
- 120 days after the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations is filed with or mailed to the Rent Board; AND
- A Certificate and a Memorandum summarizing the Notice to the City of Berkeley of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations are recorded with the Alameda County Recorder’s Office. (BMC 13.77.050.A.4.)
Condominium conversions and the Ellis Ordinance
Berkeley Municipal Code section 21.28.050.A specifically prohibits the conversion to condominium of dwelling units for the 10-year period immediately following the date of filing of a notice of intent to withdraw accommodations from the rental housing business under the Ellis Act. (Note: There is also a 10-year prohibition on condominium conversion from the date of an owner or relative move-in eviction. (BMC 21.28.060.C.1; B.M.C. 21.28.090 B.1.(a).)
The Rent Board’s Ellis Ordinance Packet contains a table that will help you determine the order in which you should proceed to notify your tenants and the Rent Board of your intent to withdraw your property from the rental housing market. Generally, there are five steps:
- Pay the administrative fee (please consult the Rent Board's Administrative Fee Schedule).
- Serve the tenants with the Notice of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations, Notice of Termination of Tenancy, and the postcards and forms for asserting entitlement to additional relocation assistance, an extended notice period, or an interest in reoccupying the unit.
- Serve the Rent Board with the Notice to City of Intent to Withdraw Accommodations.
- Deposit relocation assistance with the Rent Board as needed.
- Record Certificate and Memorandum with the County Recorder.