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Rent Stabilization Program

Providing protections to rental residents against excessive rent increases and unjust evictions, while ensuring an economically vital and affordable rental market.

About the City of East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization Board and Program

Just cause for termination of tenancy and regulation of rent increases are among the main protections granted to tenants in East Palo Alto.
  Both the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance adopted by the voters in 1988, which still applies to mobile home park spaces, and the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance adopted by the voters in 2010, which applies to residential units, provide for such protections.

In April 1988...

Voters in East Palo Alto adopted the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance to protect residential tenants in the City from unreasonable rent increases and to protect tenants from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions; and at the same time to assure landlords the right to a fair return. The 1988 Ordinance continues in effect for the purpose of regulating space rents and providing eviction protections for tenants in mobile home parks.

In June 2010...

79% of East Palo Alto voters passed the City's comprehensive rent stabilization law, known as the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. Similar to the 1988 Ordinance, The purpose of the 2010 Ordinance, which regulates most residential tenancies, is to provide protections for residential tenants in the City from unreasonable rent increases, to protect tenants from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions and to assure landlords the right to a fair return. Beginning on the effective date of this Ordinance in August 2010, this Ordinance thus governs residential tenancies in the City except for mobile home park space rentals.

In 1995...

California legislature enacted the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which suspends rent control following a qualifying vacancy and reinstates it for a new tenancy. (Civil Code section 1954.50, et seq.) For the transition period between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1998, owners were allowed to set new rents within prescribed limits. Now, under full "vacancy decontrol," owners may set a market rent for most tenancies beginning on or after January 1, 1999. The rent charged a new tenant becomes the new rent ceiling. Owners must register new rents upon change in tenancy with the Rent Board and may increase these rents for a new tenant only by an annual general adjustment or an individual rent adjustment granted through the Rent Board's petition process. The Costa-Hawkins Act, however, does not apply to mobile home park tenancies. 

Recently... 

In July 2014, the City of East Palo Alto retained Dr. Stephen Barton to conduct a review of the City’s Rent Stabilization Program.  Dr. Barton has a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. He served as the Deputy Director of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Program and as Director of the Berkeley Housing Department.  He is also the author of numerous articles, book chapters and reports on housing economics, housing policy and rent stabilization. 

The purpose of the review was to advise the City on the adequacy of the current administrative resources and practices in meeting the goals of the Program under the City’s 2010 Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance and to provide financially feasible recommendations to the City on how the Program can best and most efficiently meet those goals.

During 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the Rent Stabilization Board held public meetings on the proposed Ordinance amendments  and submitted its recommendations to the City Council. The City Council then also held numerous public meetings and adopted a number of proposed amendments including those proposed by Dr. Barton and those that came about as a result of the public discussions. The Council then placed all proposed amendments on the November 8, 2016 Election Ballot. The East Palo Alto Residents, once again, expressed their support for the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance and approved amendments to the Ordinance to clarify operational aspects and to simplify administrative processes. The amendments were a result of the collaborative work of the City Council, the Rent Stabilization Board, landlord and tenant representatives as well as resident participation. All other provisions of the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance of 2010 (“2010 Ordinance”) continue to remain in full force and effect as originally adopted in 2010.

None of the amendments change the 1988 Rent Stabilization Ordinance which still applies to mobile home park tenancies.
 

For a full copy of Dr. Barton’s report see Barton’s Report 

The Rent Stabilization Board

Composed of seven regular members and one alternate member, appointed by the City Council enacts regulations, hears petition appeals and takes other actions to implement the Ordinances. The Rent Stabilization Program Administrator and staff provide information and assistance to landlords and tenants, calculate and issue certificates of Maximum Allowable Rent, engage hearing examiners to hold hearings and issue decisions on landlord and tenant rent adjustment petitions, collect registration fees, and maintain a database of registered rental units.

Owners of rental property covered by the Ordinances are required to register their units with the Board by filing registration statements and paying annual registration fees, which cover the program's cost.