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Rent Stabilization Board
Rent Stabilization Board

Guide to Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Program
Rent Control & Eviction Protection
 January 2015

Other Laws Affecting Rental Properties

Local and State Laws

The following ordinances and statutes are either unique to the City of Berkeley or relatively new statewide requirements. This is not an exhaustive list of laws affecting landlords and tenants.

Residential Housing Safety Program. Most rental property owners must certify that their units meet housing safety standards by a City-prepared checklist by July 1st of each year, and give a copy of the certification to the tenant. For more information, contact the city’s Housing Department at (510) 981-5445, or follow the link from the Rent Board’s website under Habitability & Repairs.

Carbon monoxide alarms. State law required owners of all existing single-family homes with an attached garage or a gas appliance to install carbon monoxide alarms in the home by July 1, 2011. The device must be approved by the state fire marshal. This requirement went into effect for all multi-family dwellings on January 1, 2013.

Recycling in apartments. The state and Alameda County have adopted mandatory recycling requirements. Landlords of residential properties of five units or more must provide adequate recycling services (including containers for compostables). To establish recycling service, and for free assistance, containers, and instructional posters, call the City’s Call Center at 311 or (510) 981-7270. You can get more information from the Alameda County Recycling website at www.recyclingrulesac.org/.  

Soft Story Ordinance. The City of Berkeley has compiled an inventory of several hundred wood-frame buildings that have five or more units with a large opening, such as a garage or storefront, on the ground floor. The Soft Story Ordinance (B.M.C. Chapter 19.39) requires owners of these buildings to: provide written notice to every tenant that the building is included on the inventory, and send a copy of that notice to the City; post a warning sign in a conspicuous place near the building’s main entrance; and obtain a seismic engineering evaluation of the property. For more information contact the City’s Building & Safety Division at (510) 981-7440.

Smoking bans. Under new city legislation effective May 1, 2014, smoking is banned in all multi-unit residences (including common areas). Violators may be fined up to $500. Landlords must post notice of the ban and include a smoking prohibition clause in all new leases. For existing leases without a smoking ban, the Board encourages mutually agreed-upon lease addendums prohibiting smoking to ensure safe and healthy housing for all. A sample addendum is available on our website. While state law allows landlords to unilaterally ban smoking, even if previously permitted, this does not preempt Berkeley’s Rent Ordinance, which does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant for non-compliance with a unilaterally-imposed lease term where none existed before Regulation 1313.

Tenant screening fees. Before collecting a fee from prospective tenants to run a credit check or process a rental application, landlords must furnish a “Tenant Screening Fee Rights” statement and disclose the maximum fee allowed under state Civil Code section 1950.6(b). (B.M.C. Chapter 13.78.) For information visit www.cityofberkeley.info/rent.

Electronic payments. Landlords cannot require tenants to pay rent electronically, online, or through an automatic deduction system. Tenants may agree to pay rent in one of those ways, but they also have the right to rescind such an agreement at any time. (Civil Code section 1947.3.)

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Rent Stabilization Board, 2125 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: rent@cityofberkeley.info Phone: (510) 981-7368
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903
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