WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A few helpful reminders for tenants renting in Berkeley:
1) Your unit should be REGISTERED
Every year, landlords must register all units covered by the Ordinance by July 1. Registration includes paying a registration fee and filing a Vacancy Registration Form for each unit. If a landlord has not paid these fees, then s/he may be prohibited from increase rents or evicting tenants.
2) Most Berkeley units are RENT-STABILIZED
Your rent CANNOT be increased before one calendar year has expired (January 1- December 31). This means that if you moved in during June of 2011, the first time the landlord can raise the rent would be January 1, 2013* (click here for more information).
After one full calendar year has passed, your rent can be increased annually according to the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). Rents can be raised by the AGA amount on January 1st of each year, after the landlord gives you a 30-day notice of rent increase. *If you are on a fixed term lease, the landlord may not be able to raise the rent until the lease expires, unless the lease allows the landlord to increase the rent within the term of the lease.
3) You should receive INTEREST ON YOUR SECURITY DEPOSIT EVERY YEAR
Each December, you should receive interest on your security deposits at one of the two rates published on the Berkeley Rent Board’s Web site, depending on how the landlord holds the deposit. The interest is calculated on the period between November 1 and October 31 (federal fiscal year).
You also should receive interest on your deposit when you vacate the unit. Failure by the landlord to refund your interest by January 10 of each year can result in you having the right to take a 10 percent penalty (click here for more information).
4) You have EVICTION PROTECTIONS
Landlords can’t ask you to leave without citing one of the “good causes for eviction” listed in the Berkeley Rent Ordinance (click here for more information). The mere expiration of the lease is NOT a good cause for eviction, nor is sale of the property or foreclosure. It is good cause to evict if, upon the expiration of the lease, you refused to sign a new fixed term lease that is substantially identical to the previous fixed term lease.
A valid notice to quit must include three elements:
a. The landlord must specify one or more of the good causes for eviction.
b. The landlord must allege compliance with 1) registration requirements for all covered units on the property (compliance means that all registration fees are paid and all registration forms are completed and filed), and 2) the lawful rent ceiling requirements.
c. The landlord must allege substantial compliance with the implied warranty of habitability (no serious repair problems) for all covered units on the property.