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Apartment Rent Ordinance
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 a second for apartments.

The Apartment Rent Ordinance, which is Municipal Code Chapter 17.23, and its companion Regulations regulate rent increases on apartments.

Apartment Rent Ordinance Coverage
The City’s Apartment Rent Ordinance applies to residential housing developments with three or more units built, first rented prior to September 7, 1979 (Chapter 17.23.470).  Find a listing of rent controlled properties.

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, annual rent increases are set at a maximum of 8% over the past 12 months or no greater than 21% if the increase was more than 24 months prior to the current increase. Also, rent may not be increased more than once in a 12 month period.

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.

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
Park owners may not do the following in retaliation for park residents demanding their rights under the Ordinance:

  • Threaten to sue you for possession of your coach.
  • 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.

Administration of the Ordinance
The City’s Rental Rights and Referrals Program administers the ordinance paid for by an annual mediation fee. The current fee is $11.75 per apartment.

The Rental Rights and Referrals Program may be contacted at (408) 975-4480 or by email and is located at:
 
San José City Hall
Housing, 12th Fl
200 East Santa Clara St.
San José, CA 95113-1305

The implementation of the ordinance is overseen by the Housing Department's Rental Rights and Referral Program staff.  The Housing and Community Development Commission provides a forum for citizens to offer input regarding the ordinance.