BERKELEY LANDLORDS:
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A few helpful reminders for all Berkeley landlords:

1)  REGISTER YOUR RENTAL UNITS

All rental units covered by the Ordinance should be registered annually by July 1.  If registration fees are not paid on time, the penalty is 100%.   If you rent out a unit that was formerly exempt, then you must register the unit within 60 days of date that the unit became covered by the Ordinance.

2)  INCREASE RENTS LAWFULLY

Rents can be increased annually according to the Annual General Adjustment (AGA).  In most cases rents can be raised by the AGA amount on January 1st of each year, after the landlord serves the tenant with a 30-day notice of rent increase.

Landlords CANNOT raise rents until one full calendar year has expired (January 1- December 31).  For example if the tenant moves in June 1st 2011, the first time you can raise the rent would be January 1, 2013.  Be aware that if the tenant is on a fixed-term lease on January 1st, you would not be able to raise the rent until the lease expires, unless the lease has a provision which allows you to raise the rent within the term of the lease (click here for more information).

3)  PAY THE INTEREST ON THE SECURITY DEPOSIT ANNUALLY

Landlords must pay interest on tenants’ security deposits by the end of each calendar year at one of the two rates published on the Berkeley Rent Board’s Web site, depending on where the deposit is held.  The interest is calculated on the period between November 1 and October 31 (the federal fiscal year).

Landlords must also pay interest on the deposit whenever a tenant vacates a unit.  Failure to pay interest on the security deposit by January 10 of each year can result the tenant having the right to take 10% of the security deposit deducted from one month’s rent (click here for more information).

4)  BE CAREFUL WHEN CONSIDERING EVICTION

Landlords must cite one of the “good causes for eviction” listed in the Berkeley Rent Ordinance in order to evict a tenant.  (Some examples of situations that are NOT good causes for eviction include the mere expiration of a lease, sale of the property, and foreclosure.)  Note: It is good cause to evict if upon expiration of a fixed term lease, a tenant refuses to sign a new fixed term lease that is substantially identical to the previous fixed term lease (click here for more information).

Along with State Law requirements, a valid notice to quit must include three elements:

a.  The landlord must specify one or more of the good causes for eviction.

b.  The landlord must allege compliance with 1) registration requirements for all covered units on the property (compliance means that all registration fees are paid and all registration forms are completed and filed), and 2) the lawful rent ceiling requirements.

c.  The landlord must allege substantial compliance with the implied warranty of habitability (no serious repair problems) for all covered units on the property.

The landlord must file with the Rent Stabilization Board a copy of the notice to quit or notice of termination, and of the summons and complaint, within ten days of the date they are given to the tenant(s).

4)  BE AWARE OF ALL CITY FEES TO BE PAID

Guide of Fees for Property Owners