The Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction and Homeowner Protection Ordinance
In his annual State of the City address, Mayor Tom Butt conceded that excessive rent increases don't appear to be a problem for Richmond, and noted that median rents in Richmond are below other Bay Area locales.
The high costs of living were substantial enough, however, for the city to enact the Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance, known more popularly as Measure L. Residential units with two or more units that have a certificate of occupancy prior to February 1, 1995, are likely subject to Richmond rent control, though exceptions apply.
If Richmond properties are governed by the ordinance, rent increases are limited to the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Proper notice of rent increases is always required throughout rent-controlled jurisdictions, but Richmond ups the ante by requiring housing providers to furnish a copy of a brochure prepared by the Richmond Rent Board which spells out the tenant's legal rights. If the tenant is not given proper notice and notification of their rights, the rent increase is void.
The city has enumerated eight reasons why a tenant can be evicted and when the tenant is displaced through no fault of their own, he or she is entitled to relocation payments to aid in the transition out of the rental unit.
These no-fault evictions include the temporary termination of the tenancy to make substantial repairs, an owner move-in or relative move-in eviction, or the removal of the property from the rental market under the “Ellis Act”.
We hasten to say that long-term tenants who are elderly or disabled cannot typically be translated by way of an OMI or RMI eviction.
The five-member Rent Board is tasked with airing out grievances by tenants and landlords alike, but refreshingly, Richmond affords plenty of opportunities for landlords to be heard and come away with a decision advantageous to their rental business.
For example, under Richmond rent control, landlords who are saddled with rising costs can petition the Rent Board to pass on these expenses to tenants, be it increased property taxes, capital improvements, an increase in the number of tenants who occupy the unit, or other costs attendant to increasing the housing services provided.
Of course, tenants are entitled to contest the landlord's petition for a rent increase, perhaps claiming that there has been a decrease in housing services provided or a deterioration of the unit, along with other defenses.
Make no mistake, Richmond rent control rules vigorously protect the rights of tenants, but the interests of owners are also held in high regard. Studious landlords who comply with the Code and do right by their tenants can survive and thrive in this balanced regulatory regime, with the proper counsel of Bornstein Law.
Resources for Richmond landlords