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2015 Apartment Rent Ordinance Proposed Changes
The Apartment Rent Ordinance website is currently being updated. You may experience broken links and content may have moved or been reorganized since your last visit. Please call staff with any questions at (408)975-4480.

Apartment Rent Ordinance Overview
 
In 1979, the San José City Council appointed a task force to address rent issues in rental housing.  In July 1979 the City Council adopted a rent-stabilization ordinance for mobile home parks and apartments and created the Rental Rights and Referrals Program to administer the ordinance. In 1985 the City Council voted to separate the Rent Stabilization Ordinance into two separate ordinances, one for mobile home parks and another for apartments. 

The Apartment Rent Ordinance, which is Municipal Code Chapter 17.23, and its companion Regulations regulate rent increases on apartments that are covered by the ordinance. 

Apartment Rent Ordinance Coverage 
Properties that are covered by the City's Apartment Rent Ordinance were built and occupied prior to September 7, 1979. A list of properties that were built prior to this date can be found here. If an apartment covered by this Ordinance is rented with a government-funded rent subsidy, the apartment is exempt from the Ordinance. The multiple housing roster linked above is a previously compiled reference listing of buildings subject to the Ordinance. It may not include every address in a building or buildings that were exempt at the date of compilation. Please contact staff at 408.975.4480 if you have questions 

Rental housing developments exempted from the ordinance include single-family dwellings, duplexes, condominiums, hotels, boarding houses, which are rented to transient guests for periods of less than 30 days, nonprofit homes for the aged, school dormitories, rental units owned and operated by any government agency, and any new rental units first rented after September 7, 1979. 

Allowable Rent Increase Under the Ordinance 
Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, rent increases may only be given once in a 12-month period. The maximum annual allowable increase is 8%. If an increase has not been given in more than 24 months, an increase of up to 21% is allowable. 

The City Council has directed that changes be made to the Apartment Rent Ordinance. Staff anticipates that revisions to the Ordinance will be completed by the end of 2016.

Beginning June 17, 2016, an Interim Ordinance will be in effect until revisions to Apartment Rent Ordinance are completed. The Interim Ordinance reduces the annual allowable rent increase from 8% to 5% and outlines the process for filing cost pass-through petitions.  

After the revisions to the Apartment Rent Ordinance are complete the annual allowable rent increase will be set at 5%. Owners will be allowed to bank up to 10% of unused annual increases. After combining the annual allowable increase, any banked increase, and capital improvement cost-pass through awards the annual increase can be no more than 8%.

Exceptions to the Allowable Rent Increases
Rent increases that are exempt from these requirements include an increase after the rental unit has been voluntarily vacated by the tenant and an increase after eviction of a tenant. 

Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, both property owners and tenants may file a petition. Property owners who file a petition to increase rent in excess 8% must submit a cost worksheet to the Rental Rights and Referrals Program. Pending a decision by the Hearing Officer, the amount of rent in excess of 8% is deferred and only an 8% rent increase should be de demanded or paid.

Starting September 1, 2016, debt service pass-through petitions will no longer be accepted by our office. However, capital improvement cost pass-through petitions will still be accepted.

Tenants with a rent increase subject to review and/or service reduction claims or housing code violations may file a petition. 

Service Reductions 
A service reduction has occurred when the level of service provided by the landlord has been reduced without a corresponding decrease in rent. The Ordinance allows tenants to request an administrative hearing for a service reduction claim. The tenant has the burden of proof to their claim by submitting evidence such as maintenance record requests, photographs, and/or testimony. If the claim is proven, the Hearing Officer will determine the percentage that the usability of the rental unit was reduced and the duration of the reduction. If the rent increase is unreasonable, the Hearing Officer may reduce a rent increase, order a credit against the paid and/or permanent or temporary reduction in future rent. 

Housing Code Violations 
A housing code violation has occurred when there are health and safety defects which violate the San Jose Housing Code and/or California Civil Code Sections 1941.1 and 1941.2. The tenant has the burden of proof to their claim by submitting evidence such as a Code Enforcement Inspection which is considered presumptive evidence; unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary, violations listed in the report are considered to have been proven to exist. Issues of this type may also be service reductions. The Hearing Officer may reduce, disallow or reasonably condition any rent increase based on the severity of any Housing Code violations. 

Freedom to Exercise Rights 
Apartment owners may not do the following in retaliation for tenants demanding their rights under the Ordinance: 
•Threaten to sue, evict or terminate the tenancy of the tenant(s). 
•Harass you until you leave. 
•Reduce your services. 
•Increase your rent. 
•Impose a security deposit or any other new charge. 

If any of these actions occur, provide a written complaint to the Rental Rights & Referrals Program.