History of Rent Control in Berkeley

Rents in Berkeley have been regulated since November 1978, when Measure I was passed to insure that owners shared with tenants the property tax savings resulting from the passage of Proposition 13 in June, 1978. Measure I required owners to roll rents back to the level charged on June 6, 1978 and, starting on January 1, 1979, to reduce the rents to reflect 80% of the tax savings. Owners who incurred unavoidable increases in operating costs which exceeded the 20% tax savings they retained could increase rents if they provided the tenants with documentation of the costs and 30 days written notice of rent increase. Retaliatory evictions were prohibited.

When Measure I expired at the end of 1979, the Berkeley City Council enacted a temporary rent law, Ordinance 5212. It extended the provisions of Measure I for a six month period beginning January 1, 1980, but limited the maximum rent increase during this period to 5% of the lawful rent and disallowed rent increases based on increased mortgage costs. (Ordinance 5212-NS)

The Rent Stabilization and Eviction For Good Cause Ordinance, BMC 13.76, was passed in June 1980. The current Rent Ordinance derives from this law, which provided comprehensive rent and eviction controls and required that owners refund security deposit interest. Rent ceilings, which were based on the legal rent in effect on May 31, 1980, could only be increased in accordance with Annual General Adjustments (AGA's) granted by the Board, or pursuant to Individual Rent Adjustment (IRA) petitions filed with the Board. (Ord. 5261-NS)

The Tenants Rights Amendments Act of 1982 (Measure G), passed in June 1982, amended the Rent Ordinance to increase penalties for non-compliance and to cover previously exempt, owner- occupied three and four unit buildings. Rent ceilings in those buildings were based on the rent in effect on December 31, 1981. (Ord. 5467-NS, June, 1982)

The nine-member Rent Board, which has the power to determine, arbitrate and set rent levels of any unit covered under the Ordinance, and to administer any Berkeley program which regulates rents and evictions, had been appointed by the City Council until the passage of Measure N, in November, 1982, which amended the City Charter to call for an elected Rent Board.

The Ordinance was further amended in June 1988, to exempt rental units owned by nonprofit, accredited institutions of higher education and rented to students, faculty or staff of the institution or of a member of a school of the Graduate Theological Union, provided that the institution owned the unit as of January 1, 1988. (Ord. 5872-NS)

An additional amendment in November 1988, eliminated the conflict of interest provision that had prevented Board commissioners who owned residential rental property in Berkeley from participating in making Rent Board decisions which determined rent levels. Board commissioners were still precluded from participating in decisions on individual rent adjustment petitions affecting their own unit(s). (Advisory Measure)

A June 1990 amendment changed the date annual registration fees were due from September 1st to July 1st of each year reduced the rate at which penalties for non-registration accrued. (Ord. 6008-NS)

This page was last updated 5/21/1995.

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