Rent Stabilization FAQ

What is the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act?

On November 8, 2016, the residents of the City of Mountain View voted to adopt Measure V, also known as the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act (“CSFRA”), in order to stabilize rents by regulating rent increases for certain rental units and requiring landlords to have just cause in order to terminate a tenancy. The CSFRA is effective as of December 23, 2016.

Download a PDF of the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act.

What types of rental properties are covered?

The CSFRA applies to the following rental units:

What are the key provisions of the CSFRA?
  • For Fully Covered Units, the CSFRA establishes a Base Rent which is the rental rate charged on October 19, 2015. For tenancies that commenced after October 19, 2015, the Base Rent is the initial rent charged at the start of the tenancy.
  • The CSFRA limits rent increases to ONE (1) per 12 months. A rent adjustment may occur in one of two ways:
    • An Annual General Adjustment of rent (“AGA”) will be adopted each year equal to 100% of the CPI (for All Urban Consumers, Bay Area Region (“CPI”).
    • Rent increases pursuant to this Annual General Adjustment shall be no less than 2% or no more than 5%. 
    • Landlords and tenants may file an individual petition to request individual upward and downward rent adjustments.
    • The CSFRA limits the reasons for which a landlord can issue termination notices (“Just Cause” evictions), including: failure to pay rent, breach of lease, nuisance, criminal activity or failure to give access. Necessary repairs, owner move-in, withdrawal of the property from the rental market and demolition are also just causes for eviction and in these instances a landlord may be required to provide tenant relocation assistance, or where applicable offer first right of return to a terminated tenant.
    • The CSFRA establishes a Rental Housing Committee, which consists of 5 Committee members and 1 alternate member, who are Mountain View residents, appointed by the City Council.
    What is Base Rent and the rent roll back?

    From December 23, 2016 onwards, a landlord of Fully Covered Units can only charge Base Rent plus any lawful rent increases actually implemented pursuant to the CSFRA. Rent increases can only be imposed once per 12 months. The Rental Housing committee determines each year’s allowed increase (“AGA”).

    Base Rent needs to be set at the following levels: 

    • If a tenancy was in existence on or before October 19, 2015, the Base Rent is the amount of rent in effect on October 19, 2015, or
    • If a tenancy started after October 19, 2015, the Base Rent is the initial rent charged at the start of the tenancy. 
    What is a lawful rent increase?

    Annual General Adjustment of Rent (“AGA”)

    An annual rent increase can only be charged once per 12 months in accordance with the Annual General Adjustment (“AGA”) as set by the Rental Housing Committee.

    The AGA is set by using 100% of the rise in the Consumer Price Index of the Bay Area region from February to February of each year as set by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics.

    The Rental Housing Committee approved the following AGAs:

    AGA 2019: 3.5% (for the period September 1, 2019 – August 31, 2020)
    AGA 2018: 3.6% (for the period September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019)
    AGA 2017: 3.4% (for the period September 1, 2017 – August 31, 2018)

    A landlord may apply the AGA to a tenancy when

    1. at least 12 months have passed since the last rent increase
    2. the annual Rental Housing Fees have been paid
    3. the owner is otherwise in compliance with the provisions of the CSFRA
    4. the tenant has been served with a written 30 day notice as required by state law.

    Individual Rent Increase Petitions

    Aside from the AGA, a rent increase can also be requested by a landlord, through filing an individual petition to request an upward adjustment of rent with the Rental Housing Committee.

    What is “banking” of a rent increase?

    If a Landlord does not use any of the allowed rent increases in part or in whole, the remaining amount may be “banked” for future use. If a landlord decides to charge any of the previously banked rent increases and as a consequence the total rent increase exceeds the Annual General Adjustment (AGA) for 2018 (3.6%), the landlord must include in its written rent increase notice, the following mandatory text as stipulated in Chapter 7 of the Regulations.

    "The rent increase requested in this notice exceeds the annual general adjustment authorized for the current year. Landlords may save ("bank") annual general adjustments that were not imposed in previous years and implement them with the current annual general adjustment in accordance with the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act section 1707 and implementing regulations.  Rent may only be increased once every twelve months and rent increases cannot exceed ten percent (10%) of the rent actually charged in the previous year.  Tenants have the right to petition the Rental Housing Committee (RHC) for relief if this rent increase will cause an undue hardship.  The RHC defines a hardship based on either household income or if the household spends 50% or more of household income on rent, with specific definitions for households with children, seniors, or persons with disabilities or who are terminally ill.  If you believe the rent increase requested in this notice is incorrect, excessive or causes an undue hardship, you can (a) contact your landlord to discuss the increase, and/or (b) file a petition with the RHC.  For more information about petitions or the hardship process, contact the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline at (650) 282-2514 or CSFRA@housing.org."

    General rent increase cannot exceed 10% in any given year.

    A template form “Attachment to 2018 Annual General Adjustment and/or Banked Increase of Rent Notice” is available on the City’s website http://www.mountainview. gov/rentstabilization/forms.

    Tenants may file a Petition, if any banked rent increase now charged, causes an undue hardship (see under Tenant Undue Hardship).

    What is the “Bankable Rent Increase for Inflationary effects prior to September 1, 2016”?

    On May 21, 2018, the Rental Housing Committee adopted a 2.6% bankable rent increase for inflationary effects prior to September 1, 2016.

    Landlords may include this 2016 bankable rent increase in the next annual rent increase under the following conditions:

    1. The landlord has continuously owned the property since October 19, 2015; and
    2. The current tenant has continuously resided in the unit since October 19, 2015; and
    3. No rent increase has been imposed for that unit between October 19, 2015 and December 23, 2016; and
    4. The landlord is in full compliance with the CSFRA.
    5. This bankable 2016 increase must be implemented before September 1, 2020. 

    Again, tenants may file a Petition, if any previously banked rent increase now charged, causes an undue hardship (see under Tenant Undue Hardship).

    When can a Tenant claim Undue Hardship?

    If any Banked Rent Increase is currently being charged, a tenant may file an Undue Hardship Petition if any of the following conditions exist:

    Hardship Condition

    Household Income Limit [Percent of Area Median Income (AMI) or 50% of Income Paid toward Rent]

    Additional Criteria

     

    Inadequate Household Income

    100% of AMI or 50%

    n/a

     

    Families with Children

    120% of AMI or 50%

    Primary residence of one or more persons under the age of 18

     

    Senior Household

    120% of AMI or 50%

    Primary residence of individual who is 62 or older

     

    Persons with Disabilities

    120% of AMI or 50%

    Primary residence of person who is disabled

     

    Persons who are Terminally Ill

    120% of AMI or 50%

    Primary residence of person who is certified as terminally ill

     

    Other

    120% of AMI or 50%

    Other extenuating circumstances

    State annual Average Median Income (AMI) for Santa Clara County in 2019 adjusted for family size:

    Household Size:

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    100% AMI

    $92,000

    $105,100

    $118,250

    $131,400

    $141,900

    $152,400

    120% AMI

    $110,400

    $126,150

    $141,950

    $157,700

    $170,300

    $182,950

    Tenants who are considering filing an undue hardship petition are advised to carefully review the applicable sections in the CSFRA and the Regulations before filing a petition. All forms for filing a petition, as well as the CSFRA and the Regulations, are posted on www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization/forms.

    How often can rent be raised?

    Rent can be raised once (1) per twelve-month period, whether this is an Annual General Adjustment of rent, a previously Banked Rent Increase or a rent increase based on a decision by a hearing officer with regard to an individual petition.

    Are utilities, pet fees, etc. included in the Base Rent and the calculation of allowable CPI rent increase?

    Yes, the CSFRA defines “Rent” to encompass all periodic payments made, including any separate fees for “Housing Services” like pet fees, parking, utility charges, etc.  Per the CSFRA, even if you do not pay for any Housing Service separately, those Housing Services are still considered covered by the Rent you pay. 

    Any new charge that a Landlord imposes to a tenant, that was not charged on October 19, 2015 (or if you moved in after October 19, 2015, at the start of your tenancy) would be considered an increase in rent and cannot not exceed the Annual General Adjustment of your rent for any given year (for 2019 the allowable annual increase is 3.5%)

    If a landlord has always charged separately for a Housing Service, such as utilities, that monthly charge is also subject to the Base Year and the Annual General Adjustment rent increase restrictions.

    Can the amount of a Security Deposit be raised during a tenancy?

    California law allows a landlord to collect up to two months’ rent for an unfurnished unit or three months’ rent for a furnished unit at the start of a tenancy. This deposit may be collected at the start of a tenancy in addition to the first month’s rent. The CSFRA generally does not permit a landlord to increase the amount of the security deposit during a tenancy (CSFRA Section 1706 (c). The CSFRA does not require a landlord to pay interest on security deposits.

    What do I need to do if I want to add a family member or roommate to my unit?

    If a tenant in a Covered Rental Unit would like to house additional eligible family members (child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother, or sister of tenant or tenant's spouse or domestic partner, or spouse or domestic partner of tenant):

      • Housing the additional family member cannot exceed maximum occupancy under state law

      • The tenant must send a mandatory notice to inform the landlord, with copy to City, that includes:

        1. Date of the notice and date when the family member will move in the unit

        2. Full name of the family member

        3. Qualifying Family Relationship with tenant or tenant's spouse/domestic partner

        4. Notice should be provided 15 days prior to the proposed move-in date

      • The landlord may request reasonable documentation of the eligible family relationship

      • The landlord may not charge additional rent or security deposit

     

    If a tenant in a Covered Rental Unit would like to replace a leaving roommate:

      • The tenant must send a mandatory notice to inform the landlord, with copy to City, that includes:

        1. Date of the notice, and date when the roommate will move in

        2. Full name of the replacement roommate

        3. How much rent the roommate will pay and to whom (e.g. to landlord, tenant, etc.)

        4. Notice should be provided 15 days prior to the proposed move-in date

      • The landlord may perform typical tenant screening and charge a fee

      • The landlord may not charge additional rent or security deposit

     

    If a tenant in a Covered Rental Unit would like to house any other additional occupant/roommate:

      • The lease terms and/or landlord control whether this is allowed

      • The original tenant cannot charge rent in excess of lawful rent

      • The landlord and additional occupant each must disclose rent terms upon request

     

    The landlord can ONLY renegotiate rent with Additional Tenants, when ALL original tenants have moved out. The noticing requirements for rent increases need to be taken into account.

    What is a petition and how can it be filed?

    The CSFRA allows landlords and tenants to file petitions to adjust rent levels. The filing of a petition usually results in the matter being scheduled for a hearing. There are several types of petitions:

    Rent Increase Petitions - Landlords may file a petition to seek to increase rent levels at their property. Increase petitions can affect the rents for all units on a property at the same time and are often based on unusually high expenses, including capital improvements.

    Rent Decrease Petitions - Tenants may file a petition to seek to decrease the rent level for their unit for any of the following three reasons:

    1. failure to maintain a rental unit in compliance with health and safety or building codes;
    2. reduced service or maintenance;
    3. charged rent is in excess of lawful rent;
    4. undue hardship in case a banked increase is charged or a landlord filed a petition for upward adjustment of rent.

        Forms for petitions are available at: www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization/forms. Please contact the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline for confidential counseling and information services. Bilingual assistance is available (habla Español). Telephone: (650) 282-2514; Email: CSFRA@housing.org.

        Services are also provided during weekly walk-in office hours at City Hall, 500 Castro Street, 1st floor, Public Works Front Conference Room, Thursdays 12pm-2pm. Workshops are held every 1st and 3rd Friday afternoon (1-3pm) at the Plaza Conference Room, City Hall, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View.

        What types of notices do landlords need to provide to tenants under CSFRA?

        Landlords need to provide the following types of notices to tenants:

        1. “CSFRA Information Sheet”: At the start of a lease and with every notice of rent increase, landlords must provide a CSFRA Information Sheet to the tenant. The approved text of this CSFRA Information Sheet can be accessed at www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization under Forms & Notices.

        2. “Notice of Rent Increase”: Allowable rent increases pursuant to CSFRA shall become effective only after the landlord provides at least a 30 days advance written Notice of Rent Increase pursuant to state law.

        3. “Notice of Previously Banked Rent Increase greater than the AGA: If an requested rent increase contains more than the Annual General Adjustment, the Notice must identify the increase in monthly Rent Due, including the actual increase as well as a calculation of the dollar increase as a percentage of the rent due immediately prior to the imposition of the rent increase; and must include the following text in at least 12 point font:

           “The rent increase requested with this notice exceeds the annual general adjustment authorized for the current year. Landlords may save ("bank") annual general adjustments that were not imposed in previous years and implement them with the current annual general adjustment in accordance with the Community Stabilization and Fair Rent Act section 1707 and implementing regulations.

          Rent may only be increased once every twelve months and rent increases cannot exceed ten percent (10%) of the rent actually charged in the previous year. Tenants have the right to petition the Rental Housing Committee (RHC) for relief if this rent increase will cause an undue hardship. The RHC defines a hardship based on either household income or if the household spends 50% or more of household income on rent, with specific definitions for households with children, seniors, or persons with disabilities or who are terminally ill. 

          If you believe the rent increase requested with this notice is incorrect, excessive or causes an undue hardship, you can (a) contact your landlord to discuss the increase, and/or (b) file a petition with the RHC. For more information about petitions or the hardship process, contact the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline at (650) 282-2514 or CSFRA@housing.org.”

           Copy of this Notice needs to be filed with the Rental Housing Committee within 7 days of serving this notice on tenant at www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization/forms

        4. “Termination Notice”: a written notice in accordance with state law detailing the specific reason for termination. A landlord shall notify tenants of their rights to relocation assistance at the time of service of the termination notice.

          Copy of this Termination Notice needs to be filed with the Rental Housing Committee within 3 days of serving this notice on tenant at www.mountainview.gov/rent stabilization/forms.

        5. “Written Notice to Cease”: a written notice that gives tenant the opportunity to cure an alleged violation or problem concerning a Breach of Lease, a Nuisance, a Criminal Activity or Failure to Give Access, before serving a termination notice. This notice needs to provide a telephone number for the Rental Housing Committee which is 650-903-6379.

        6. “Tenant Buyout Disclosure Form: a written notice that informs tenants of their rights under the CSFRA regarding offers to vacate a rental unit in exchange for compensation by the landlord. This notice needs to provide the contact information of the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline at (650) 282-2514 and CSFRA@housing.org. The approved text of this Tenant Buyout Disclosure Form can be accessed at www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization under Forms & Notices.

        Does a landlord need to offer tenants the option of a 6 months and 1 year lease?

        No, the Right to Lease Ordinance, requiring a landlord to offer tenants a 6 months and 1 year lease, was repealed when the CSFRA became effective. The CSFRA stipulates that only ONE (1) rent increase can be imposed in a 12 month period. The CSFRA also provides for Just Cause eviction protections, limiting landlords to nine specified conditions upon which a termination notice can be issued.

        What is a “just cause” eviction?

        A landlord is only permitted to issue a termination notice for the following reasons (causes):

        1. Failure to pay rent
        2. Breach of lease
        3. Nuisance
        4. Criminal activities
        5. Failure to give access
        6. Temporary vacancy due to necessary/substantial repairs
        7. Owner move-in
        8. Withdrawal of units from market
        9. Demolition
        How do I know if a termination notice complies with CSFRA?

        If you would like to know whether a termination notice complies with the CSFRA, please contact the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline at (650) 282-2514 or CSFRA@housing.org. Weekly walk-in office hours are also available at City Hall, 500 Castro Street, 1st floor, Public Works Front Conference Room, Thursdays 12pm-2pm or consult an attorney for legal advice.

        What are the eligibility criteria for relocation assistance?

        A landlord seeking to recover possession of a rental unit through certain “just cause” termination reasons as stated in the CSFRA:

        • necessary repairs,
        • owner move-in,
        • withdrawal of the property from the rental market or
        • demolition,

        may be required to provide relocation assistance for eligible tenants (household income not exceeding 120% of median household income). A landlord must notify tenants of their rights to request relocation assistance at the time of service of the termination notice.  Please contact the Mountain View Rental Housing Helpline at (650) 282-2514 or CSFRA@housing.orgor consult an attorney for legal advice.

        2019 HCD Average Median Income Levels per Household Size:

        Household Size:

        1

        2

        3

        4

        5

        6

        120% AMI

        $110,400

        $126,150

        $141,950

        $157,700

        $170,300

        $182,950

         

        When do tenants have the “first right of return” option?

        The “first right of return” option is available to tenants when a landlord terminates a tenancy for one of the following “just cause” reasons as stated in the CSFRA:

        • necessary repairs,

        • owner move-in,

        • withdrawal of the property from the rental market or

        • demolition,

        and following termination, the landlord returns that rental unit to market, as indicated in the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (”TRAO”):

        First Right of Return Regulations:

        • If the rental unit is returned to the rental market within 2 years, the former tenant has a first right to renew the terminated tenancy at the same lawful rental rate at the time the landlord gave notice of termination plus any allowed general adjustments of rent. The tenant is also eligible for actual and punitive damages;

        • If the rental unit is returned to market within 5 years, the former tenant has a first right to renew the terminated tenancy at the same lawful rental rate at the time the landlord gave notice of termination plus any allowed general adjustments of rent. The tenant is also eligible for punitive damages if the tenant is not notified, not to exceed 6 months’ rent.

        If the rental unit is returned to market within 10 years, the former tenant has a first right to renew the terminated tenancy at market rate.

        What are Tenant Buyout Protections?

        Tenant Buyout Agreements, in which an agreement is made between a property owner and a tenant(s) to vacate a unit in exchange for money, are one means of potentially circumventing the CSFRA and/or Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance.

        Landlords are required to provide tenants with a mandatory Tenant Buyout Disclosure Form (the approved text of this Tenant Buyout Disclosure Form can be accessed at www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization under Forms & Notices) before they enter into negotiations with tenants. A landlord must file a copy of the Disclosure Form, signed and dated by landlord and tenants, as well as notice of execution of a Tenant Buyout Agreement with the Rental Housing Committee. This can be done online at cityofmountainview-hrhcy.formstack.com/forms/ntc_tnnt_buyout_agrmnt.

        Chapter 8 of CSFRA Regulations further stipulates that Tenant Buyout Agreements must:Be in writing;

        • State the amount of money;
        • State any other consideration offered to tenants in exchange for vacating a rental unit;
        • Identify the date when the consideration must be received by tenants;
        • Contain the date when tenants must vacate in order to receive the consideration; and
        • Include mandatory disclosure language.
        What is the annual Rental Housing Fee?

        The Rental Housing Committee is required to finance the reasonable and necessary expenses of implementing the CSFRA by charging a Rental Housing Fee. Landlords are required to pay the annual Rental Housing Fee for Fully and Partially Covered rental units:

        • 2019 Rental Housing Fee: $101 per unit
        • 2018 Rental Housing Fee: $124 per unit
        • 2017 Rental Housing Fee: $155 per unit 

        Per the CSFRA, these fees cannot be passed through to tenants.

        What should a new owner of a rent stabilized property know?

        Before purchasing a rent stabilized property, future owners may want to learn the current rent levels and review the tenant records regarding the property. Once new owners have purchased the property they may want to contact the City to:

        • File an online “Change of Ownership” form
        • Determine whether the annual Rental Housing Fees have been paid and otherwise the property is in full compliance with the CSFRA
        • Check on allowed rent increases for the property
        • Get informed on the Just Cause eviction protections
        How can I learn more about CSFRA?

        Phone: (650) 282-2514
        Email: CSFRA@housing.org 
        Online: www.mountainview.gov/rentstabilization

        E-Newletter:  www.mountainview.gov/mymv 
        then click on Rental Housing Committee

        Walk-in Office Hours: Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
        City Hall, 500 Castro street, 1st Floor
        Public Works Front Conference Room

        Petition Workshops: Thursdays 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
        City Hall, 500 Castro street, 2nd Floor
        Plaza Conference Room

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