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New Rent Mediation Law Takes Effect Tomorrow

Alameda rental mediation ordinance changes.

Changes to local ordinances for rent mediation go into effect October 1st.

Two new ordinances go into effect tomorrow, October 1st, with the intent of strengthening rent dispute mediation between Alameda landlords and tenants.

Landlords will now be required to advise tenants of the availability of the City of Alameda’s rent review process when providing a rent increase notice.

Additionally, tenants may now request a rent review hearing before the Rent Review Advisory Committee (RRAC) no matter how small the increase.

If a landlord fails to appear at a rent review hearing, the rent increase is voided and not enforceable.

The California Apartment Association has intimated that it may challenge that last provision in court as contrary to state law.

Local tenant activists have stated that the changes don’t go far enough; they have started a petition for a moratorium on rent increases and continue to call for the City of Alameda to implement rent control.

Responding to a report on rent survey data earlier this week, Don Lindsey of Gallagher & Lindsey, a local real estate firm, asserted that the “RRAC has worked well” and that through the rent mediation process, tenants at Croll’s Garden apartments negotiated noticed increases from 18 percent down to 10 percent.

“We have a serious problem with large rent increases in Alameda,” said Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer, in a prepared media statement. “These ordinances strengthen our public hearing process as a fair and reliable way to mediate disputes. This approach is available to all renters and has proven to be successful. We want more people to use it.”

Property owner Doug Smith told Action Alameda News that he supports the new rules, but also said, “Let’s go after the owners that are giving ‘significant’ increases and penalize them. Most owners are reasonable and even with the recent increases are only increasing rents 3%-4% on average over the 15 year rental cycle.”

Alameda City Council unanimously approved the ordinance changes on September 1st. The City of Alameda is also under contract with BAE Urban Economics to report back to councilmembers with a study of the Alameda rental market, possibly by the end of the year.

Text of the Notice Landlords Must Provide to Tenants

NOTICE: Under Civil Code section 827(b) a Housing Provider must provide a Tenant with 30 days’ notice prior to a rent increase of 10 percent or less and must provide a tenant with 60 days’ notice of a rent increase of greater than 10 percent. Because the Housing Provider proposes a Rent Increase or because the Housing Provider proposes a Rent Increase within 12 months of the immediately preceding Rent Increase, under Article XIV of Chapter VI of the Alameda Municipal Code, a Housing Provider must at the same time provide this Notice of the availability of the City’s rent review procedures before imposing any such Rent Increase.

You may request the Rent Review Advisory Committee to review the increase by submitting the request for review in writing within seven calendar days of your receipt of the notice of Rent Increase by personally delivering or mailing the request to the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda 701 Atlantic Avenue Alameda CA 94501 or emailing the request to the Housing Authority of the City of Alameda at rrac@alamedahsg.org. You must submit along with your request a copy of the Notice of Rent Increase.

You and your Housing Provider will be required to appear before the Committee for a hearing concerning the Rent Increase. Following the hearing the Committee will make a non-binding recommendation to you and your Housing Provider concerning your request. It is illegal for a Housing Provider to retaliate against a Tenant for lawfully and peacefully exercising his or her legal rights including your request for the Committee to review the Rent Increase.

Civil Code, Section 1942.5. A Housing Provider’s efforts to evict a Tenant within six months of a Tenant’s requesting a hearing may be used as evidence of a retaliatory eviction.

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