Rental Housing Safety Program
The purpose of the Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP) is to increase the safety of rental properties through the participation of owners, tenants, the City, and the community. (This program incorporates the City's existing program of conducting inspections in response to complaints. The City additionally conducts proactive inspections to properties randomly selected).
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I. Inspection Program Components
The following represents the fee schedule for the Rental Housing Safety Program. The Berkeley City Council adopted the Reinspection fees, and the Annual Per Unit/Room fees shown below on September 16, 2003 per Resolutions No.62,230-N.S. and No. 62,231 N.S., respectively. In addition, the City Council adopted the Penalty fees shown below on July 12, 2005 per Resolution No. 62,990-N.S., with an effective date of September 12, 2005 and Resolution No. 63,773-N.S. on July 10, 2007, with an effective date of September 10, 2007.
A. Owner's Rental Housing Safety Certification
1. Except as noted in item 4 below, all owners of rental housing are required to certify annually by July 1st of each year that their units meet housing safety standards on a checklist form prepared by the City. This requirement applies to owners of residential rental property (even if only one or two units are involved) and to owners of boarding houses or residential hotels with five (5) or more rooms. Owners who have not certified their unit are encouraged to do so as quickly as possible to avoid complications and possible fines.
2. Owners are required to provide a copy of the certification to the tenant(s) of the unit certified. They do not have to provide a copy to the City. If the owner cannot self-certify to the proper functioning of the items on the certification checklist, he/she must inform the City by submitting Schedule A to the Rental Housing Safety Program indicating that certification was not possible.
3. Owners or tenants may request that the City conduct an inspection in lieu of self-certification. However, if the City is unable to conduct this inspection, the owner is still required to self-certify.
4. The following units are exempt from the owner self-certification:
a) Newly constructed rental units are exempt for 5 years after the issuance of a certification of occupancy.
b) Units where the tenant refuses consent to inspect to both the owner and the City are exempt until the earlier of either the following July 1st or a new tenancy.
c) Units receiving a City Housing inspection and cleared of all violations will not be subject to self-certification for a 3-year period following the inspection.
B. City Housing Inspections
1. The City has the authority to inspect any housing unit, but will give priority to units where there are indications of code violations.
2. The City’s Housing Code Enforcement Section will inspect all units where a tenant has made a complaint of suspected code violations, and all common areas. Tenants are encouraged to contact the owner before making a complaint and requesting that needed repairs be made in a timely way.
3. If a City housing inspection takes place and no violations are found or violations found are cleared upon re-inspection, the City will issue a certificate of compliance. If violations are found, written notice will be given to the owner and tenant and the City will set a time period for compliance and reinspection.
1. Inspection Fees: Resolution No. 62,230-N.S. establishes the fee schedule for City housing inspections. There are no fees for the initial City inspection, nor for the first re-inspection if all code violations are corrected. If violations have not been cleared there is a fee for all reinspections.
2. RHSP Annual Per Unit/Room Fee: Resolution No. 64,455-N.S. establishes an annual per unit or room fee to be paid by owners to help defray the costs of the RHSP. The fee is $26.00 per rental unit. The fee is $13.00 per room in boarding houses or residential hotels with 5 or more rooms.
D. Refusal of Entry by the Tenant
1. Where a tenant refuses entry to the owner or owner’s agent for purposes of carrying out the self-certification inspection, the owner may request that the City carry out the inspection.
2. City Housing inspections are considered a “necessary service” under the California Civil Code Section 1954(b).
3. The City may also request a warrant from the Court to allow inspection.
E. Citations and Penalties
1. Owners can be cited for failure to bring the property into code compliance after receiving notice of the violation and being given a reasonable time to make repairs.
2. Tenants can be cited if they modify, damage, destroy or otherwise alter their premises in a manner which endangers the safety of the public or the occupants and, if they refuse to correct the violation after receiving written notice and being given a reasonable opportunity to do so by the City.
3. Any tenant, or the City, can bring a civil action where the owner has failed to submit a certification to the City or where the owner has failed to provide a copy of the certification after the owner has received written request to do so and been given a reasonable opportunity to provide the certification. Penalties are set at an amount not to exceed $500 per violation.
A. The City has developed safety guides and other- informational materials for tenants and owners in an effort to increase housing safety awareness by reducing the number of housing related accidents.
B. The City has a web page providing a variety of educational information about how to increase safety.
C. The City works with the University of California at Berkeley, property owners associations, the Rent Stabilization Board, other City departments, and community groups to improve housing safety.
III. Program Review
The City will periodically evaluate the Rental Housing Safety Program and encourages comments and suggestions for improving the program.
IV. Further Information
For further information, contact the Housing Code Enforcement Office at (510) 981-5444; TDD (510) 981-7474; or by e-mail at RHSP@cityofberkeley.info.