Rent Adjustment Petitions
An overview of petitions, and the petitions and hearings process at the Berkeley Rent Board.
Common types of petitions and who can file them
Individual Rent Adjustment (IRA) petition
Landlords and tenants can file an IRA petition to ask for a change to the maximum amount of rent that can be charged for a unit that is fully covered by Berkeley’s Rent Ordinance. The petitioner (the person who filed the petition) can also ask for a refund of rent that was overcharged.
Common landlord IRA petitions:
- Increased occupancy
- Capital improvements
- Change in space or services
Common Tenant IRA petitions:
- Illegally high rent (including failure to return security deposit)
- Decrease in living space or housing services
- Substantial deterioration; failure to provide adequate services
- Failure to comply with codes or the warranty of habitability
Request for Rent Withholding (RWN) petition
Tenants in units not already under rent control can file this petition asking the Rent Board to decide if the unit should be under rent control. Talk to a housing counselor first to see if there is any reason to believe your unit should be under rent control.
Petition to Determine Exempt Status of Rental Unit (E) petition
A landlord who believes a rental unit is exempt from registration can ask for an administrative determination of exemption. If the exemption claim is administratively denied, the landlord can file an E petition to challenge the denial.
Initial Rent Determination (IRD) petition
Landlords and tenants in units fully covered by Berkeley’s Rent Ordinance can file this petition asking the Rent Board to decide if the landlord is allowed to set a new market-rate rent for a unit.
Other types of petitions
There are other types of petitions. Talk to a housing counselor to learn if a petition is right for your situation, and which petition forms to use. The Rent Board also offers mediation services that may be a better way to resolve your dispute more quickly and amicably.
The petitions and hearings process
Talk to a housing counselor who will help you figure out if you can file a petition and what forms to use.
Fill out the petition paperwork and gather supporting evidence. The petitioner will be able to submit evidence after the petition is filed and bring it to the hearing, but it’s best to gather as much as possible to file with the petition.
Review the petition with your housing counselor to make sure the forms are complete. The petition must be clear and readable; signed by all the petitioners named in the petition; and include the proper schedules (if necessary) and a Proof of Service.
File the petition and supporting evidence with the Rent Board. Anything filed with the Rent Board must be served on the other party (the respondent).
The Rent Board processes the petition. For IRA, D, and RWN petitions, an objection form is sent to the respondent to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. For all other petitions, the respondent can send the Rent Board a letter to respond to the petition.
Respondent files objection and supporting evidence with the Rent Board. The respondent must give the petitioner copies of anything filed with the Rent Board.
The Rent Board schedules the hearing and notifies the petitioner and respondent. Talk to your housing counselor about preparing for the hearing.
Settlement conference and hearing. The hearings examiner will first try to help the parties resolve their dispute informally. If this fails, the hearing starts. The hearing examiner takes evidence and testimony from both parties and any witnesses. The parties can bring a representative (like a lawyer or other advocate), but this is not required.
The hearing examiner issues a written decision based on evidence and testimony presented, which is mailed to the parties. Decisions become final if neither party files an appeal within 35 days. You will be sent information about filing an appeal along with the decision.