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Health, Housing & Community Services Department
Health, Housing & Community Services Department

Inclusionary/Below-Market Rate (BMR) Rental Owners and Property Managers

Welcome to the City of Berkeley's site for owners and managers of BMR properties.  Below are policies, procedures, trainings, and forms.   Owners are responsible for adhering to all policies and procedures.  Owners and property managers can contact the City's Affordable Housing Monitor for more questions.

Documents and Forms

New Annual Monitoring Fee Requirement

Inclusionary Housing/BMR Rental Program Guidelines and Operational Manual 

2016 BMR Training Presentation 

Rent and Income Limits  

Tenant Approval Form  

Utility Allowances  

Self-Certification Form  

Income Source Documentation   

Participation Agreement  

Inclusionary Housing Ordinance  

Mitigation Fee Ordinance 

BMR FAQ for Tenants


Inclusionary Housing/Mitigation Fee Ordinance Requirements

In 1986, the Council of the City of Berkeley ("City") passed an Inclusionary Housing Ordinance ("Ordinance") in response to the substantial need for affordable. The Ordinance was codified in Chapter 23C.12 of the Berkeley Municipal Code ("BMC").  Under the ordinance, residential projects with 5+ units are required to include a percentage of housing units that are affordable to low-income households. 

As a result of a 2009 State court case, the City can no longer require owners to include low-income units in their developments.  Now, under the Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee Ordinance (Chapter 22.20 of the BMC,) new projects have the option to either pay a fee or include low-income units in their project. 


Marketing Procedures

At least 30 days prior to marketing the BMR Units, the Owner must submit a draft marketing plan to the City for review and approval.  The City will approve or reject the marketing plan in writing within 10 business days of submission. Rejections will be based upon an Owner's failure to include the minimum components in the marketing plan described below and/or the City's determination that the marketing plan insufficiently reaches a wide cross-section of Berkeley citizenry potentially eligible to participate in the Program.  If the City rejects the marketing plan, the City will cite the reasons for withholding approval in writing.  The Owner shall then submit a revised plan for City approval, which the City shall approve or reject in accordance with the procedures stated above.  This process shall continue until the City approves the plan. 

The marketing plan shall include at least the following: 

  • Narrative of development, including overall description of the project, location, total number of units, amenities, and other descriptive features
  • Overview of BMR Units, including the Unit count at the Project, breakdown by affordability level, unit square footage, number of bedrooms, and proposed BMR Rent
  • List of newspapers and/or other publications where Units will be advertised
  • List of civic groups, churches and other non-profit organizations to which Owner will transmit electronic or hard copy information for distribution
  • Berkeley local businesses, community areas and other key City locations to which Owner will transmit electronic or hard copy information for distribution
  • List of websites where Units will be advertised (i.e., Craigslist, Owner/property-specific website)
  • Sample of flyer, electronic notices, and print advertisements
  • Start date and duration of initial marketing period
  • How random selection of applicants will be ensured (i.e. lottery)
  • How the Section 8 requirement will be met if your project was approved between December 1, 2016 and September 19, 2019

The marketing plan shall also include procedures for the following:

  • Distributing and accepting applications, including a description of criteria that will be used for evaluating both BMR and market-rate applicants, e.g. credit history, rental history, criminal background, income history and references
  • Notifying accepted applicants
  • Notifying rejected applicants
  • Placing applicants on a waiting list, including policies and procedures for updating the waiting list and removing applicants from waiting list


Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a BMR unit, households must meet the following criteria:

  • Reside in the BMR unit at least 10 months of the year as the household's permanent, sole residence.
  • Occupy the unit as his/her sole, permanent residence within 60 days of lease execution.
  • Have no ownership interest in any residence, either as an investment or alternate residence.
  • Have a member of the household who is legally able to execute contracts (i.e., is at least 18 years old)
  • Document that the Head of Household, including full-time students, cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax returns.
  • Demonstrate that no employment relationship with the property owner or property management company exists. 


Tenant Certification and Initial Occupancy Procedures

Owners must determine the applicants' eligibility with the BMR program.  At initial occupancy, when the property first rents up, Owners must submit documents to the City for final approval.   

Steps to Determine Income Eligibility and Approval of BMR Renters

  1. Owner Completes Tenant Approval Form
  2. Owner Determines Income and Eligibility

         Every household member's income must be included and documented.  Documentation includes:

  • Completed Tenant Approval Form
  • 3 most recent pay stubs
  • Other non-wage income as listed on the Source Documentation Form
  • Most recent tax return
  • Most recent W-2
  • If, within the last year, the applicant was a dependent of someone else, provide the most recent tax return of that other person (not necessary for foreign tax returns)
  • If applicant was recently someone else's dependent, provide a signed statement from that person stating the amount of the financial assistance within the last 12 months and how much will be provided within the next 12 months
  • 2 months of the most recent bank statements
  • Letters of explanation for unusual circumstances.
  • Additional documentation as requested by the City to clarify or confirm information. 
  1. For households applying during the first rent up period, owner submits to documents to the City for final approval.


Ongoing Certifications/Recertifications

After initial occupancy, owners are required to certify new applicants and recertify existing tenants annually.  For new tenants, owners must collect the documentation and determine eligibility as described in the Tenant Certification and Initial Occupancy Procedures section above.  For existing tenants, there are different requirements depending on the year of the tenancy.  On the first anniversary of the lease date and then every 5th year of the anniversary of the lease, the BMR household must provide the full income documentation as listed in the Tenant Certification and Initial Occupancy Procedures process (i.e. if the initial lease was signed in 2010, full income documentation, as listed is required in 2011, 2015, 2020, 2025, etc).   All other years, the Tenant Approval and the Self-Certification form are the only documents required.

Effective January 1, 2017 and after initial occupancy, owners are not required to obtain the City's approval for new or ongoing residents.  However, owners are still required to certify tenants according to the City's guidelines.  The certification documents must be kept on file and available for the City to inspect.


On-site Monitoring

The City's Affordable Housing monitor will visit the property and review tenant files for compliance with BMR program. The City will notify owners or property managers of the site visit in advance.


Annual Online Monitoring

Owners are required to submit annual reports on City Data Services (www.citydataservices.net).  The reports include the Occupancy Report in which owners will update changes to the tenants, their rents, and their incomes.  The other report is the Narrative Report which contains questions about the marketing procedures and condition of the property.  Each owner/property manager is assigned a user name and password for City Data Services to submit reports.   Unless the City changes the date, annual reports are due February 15. 


Administrative Citations

Failure to comply with the BMR program is a violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code.  Owners may be cited for each separate violation each day, beginning on the date the violation is required to be corrected.  The administrative penalties for violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code can be as much as $500 per violation per day.


Contact Information




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Health, Housing & Community Services Department, 2180 Milvia Street, 2nd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: HHCS@cityofberkeley.info Phone: (510) 981-5400
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