Rent Control in the City of San Jose

Note: The information provided herein is intended as a general summary/overview of the rent control ordinance. Please refer to the actual ordinance, Municipal Code Chapter 17.23, regarding specific questions or issues.

I just attended my first class that was offered through the California Apartment Association regarding rent control in the Cities of San Jose and Los Gatos, and the number of rules and regulations that property owners, managers, and landlords must follow to be in compliance with city codes is pretty ridiculous.

Now, I can understand the premise of rent control –

To preserve affordable housing to tenants by providing a reasonably priced, secure place to live without the fear of inflation and rises in the cost of living to keep them from being put out on the streets.

On the other hand, there are so many little things you need to know if you’re an owner with property covered by the Apartment Rent Ordinance. First of all, you should find out if you’re effected by rent control by checking the searchable online database. You also need to make sure that all of your tenants are aware that the property is covered by rent control by providing them with specific information within the rental agreement at the inception of any tenancy. Then, you must provide your tenants with a copy of the City of San Jose’s Rental Right and Referrals Tenant Information Brochure, which is available by calling (408) 975-4480.

DID YOU KNOW…

  • that you can’t increase the rent for future tenants if the owner/property manager is the one who decided to end the tenancy with the prior tenant?
  • that you must file two separate documents with the city any time you serve a 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, or 120-day notice to tenants who are in properties covered by rent control?
  • that you can only raise the rent a maximum of 8% per 12-month period if the property is under rent control?

Per the City of San Jose’s Economic Analysis of San Jose’s Rent Control, “The ordinance allows a maximum rent increase of eight percent annually, or 21 percent if the rent has not been raised for two or more years. Only one increase can occur in any 12-month period.”

Finally, whether you can serve a 90-day or 120-day notice to a tenant is completely dependent upon the city’s vacancy rate, as determined by the Director of Housing. If the vacancy rate (the amount of rental properties that are currently vacant) is:

  • 2.99% or less, then a 120-day notice is in effect for termination of tenancy
  • 3.00% or greater, then a 90-day notice is sufficient for termination of tenancy

Per the Legal Posting for the Mercury News, Rental Rights & Referrals Program, San Jose Municipal Code 17.23, “The Director of Housing has determined that the City of San Jose is NOT experiencing a Severe Rental Housing Shortage. Based on information for the first quarter of 2008, the San Jose rental housing market has a 3.4% vacancy rate. The impact of these findings is that, effective June 1st, “no-cause” notices served to tenants living in rent-controlled properties will be 90-day notices, or 60-day notices including an offer to arbitrate….”

While there are countless rules that apply to rent control in general, the aforementioned issues are the most general inquiries that will hopefully help keep owners out of trouble! For more information regarding rent control, you can visit the City of San Jose’s Department of Housing. If you need help with rent control as it pertains to an eviction, you should definitely call the Eviction Service Center for assistance!

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