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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. 

In 2015...

Review of the City of East Palo Alto Rent Stabilization Program

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. 

In October 2014, Dr. Barton made a public presentation of his first draft of the report at a special meeting of the Rent Stabilization Board. The Board and the public provided their input and comments regarding the draft of the report. Dr. Barton then formally submitted a revised and final report to the Board in January 2015. 

In March 2015, the Board held a public study session, reviewed the Report and recommended the adoption of most of the recommendations. 

In July 2015, the City Council formally received a copy of Dr. Barton’s final report. The Council is currently going through an assessment of the report and has agendized a public study session on the report for the September 15, 2015.   

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

The City also retained attorney Kenneth Baar to review these recommendations and provide some assistance with regard to the proposed amendments. (“Review of Proposed Amendments to Ordinance, dated February 18, 2016). Mr. Baar also recommended certain amendments to effectuate certain of Dr. Barton’s recommendations and to strengthen the Rent Board’s authority under the 2010 Rent Ordinance.

For a copy of Kenneth Barr's Review of Proposed Amendments to the Ordinance Click Here 
 
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.