Guide to Tenant Protections in Petaluma

Are you a property owner in the City of Petaluma who rents to a tenant(s)? Are you a renter in the City of Petaluma? If you are either, you should be aware of the City’s Residential Tenancy Protections (Tenant Protections) that took effect on October 12, 2022.

PROTECTING TENANTS FROM TENANCY TERMINATION

Both the State of California and the City of Petaluma have adopted new laws that are meant to protect tenants from the termination of their tenancy. These protections are particularly focused on “no cause” termination of tenancy - when the reason for termination is not because of a cause created by the tenant. These “no-cause” terminations can cause hardship for tenants and thus require special noticing and assistance in some cases so that the tenant has the time and help they need to move.

This is a summary meant to help you understand and comply with State of California and City of Petaluma Laws. We are sharing this for your convenience. The rules fall into two general categories: 1) tenant rights and termination of tenancy, and 2) rent increases. Petaluma’s rules apply to tenant rights and termination of tenancy. The State rules apply to rent increases.

Landlords should review the Petaluma Ordinance here, the CA State Law here, and speak with an attorney or with a representative from Petaluma People Services to be sure you are complying with the new laws as there are more details, definitions, and caveats not included here for brevity.

This list is a summary of all applicable laws. The current State of California rules took effect January 1, 2020. The Petaluma rules took effect October 13, 2022, and expire on March 1, 2023. Subscribe here to be notified about changes to Petaluma laws related to tenant protections.

TENANT PROTECTION DETAILS

The Ordinance applies when tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied a rental unit within the City of Petaluma for:

  • 6 months – when owner does not live on the same property as the tenant
  • 12 months – when the owner lives on the same property as the tenant or if the tenant rents an accessory or junior accessory dwelling unit.

Exceptions:
The following situations are not subject to the Petaluma rules:

  • Dwelling units owned or subsidized by a government agency where the rent does not exceed 30% of household income.
  • Dwelling units in developments in which at least forty-nine percent of the dwelling units are subject to affordable housing deed restrictions
  • Dwelling units with tenant managers and
  • Dwelling units in which the owner resides with a tenant as the owner’s primary residence.

“For Cause” reasons to terminate a tenancy include when a tenant: 

  • Fails to pay rent
  • Breaches rental agreement
  • Is convicted of Illegal activity on property
  • Threatens violence
  • Fails to cease activities causing nuisance
  • Fails to give access to landlord

Landlord can terminate a tenancy without cause (“no cause”) when:

  • Owner wants to remove a unit from the rental market
  • Owner or family member wants to occupy unit (see exceptions below
  • Substantial rehabilitation to the unit is needed for health and safety purposes

Exceptions:

    • Owner may not terminate a tenancy under the reason of “owner or family member wants to occupy unit” if:
      • The owner or owner’s relative who intends to move into the unit as their primary residence already occupies another dwelling unit on the same property unless the owner or owner’s relative is disabled and needs the unit for their disability. In such a case, the tenant being evicted shall have first right of refusal to rent the other unit.
      • The tenant is 62 years of age or older or is disabled, and has been residing in the unit for at least 10 years; or
      • The tenant is disabled and catastrophically ill and has been residing in the unit for at least one year.
    • Owner may not terminate a tenancy in retaliation of the tenant exercising their rights under the Ordinance

NOTICE OF TENANT RIGHTSENGLISH  |  ESPAÑOL

Landlords must notify their tenants about their rights when:

  • Entering, or changing, a lease
  • Raising the rent
  • Before and after the sale of a unit

If the City updates applicable laws – Subscribe Here to be notified.

  1. Provide Tenants with a Notice of Termination: ENGLISH  |  ESPAÑOL
    • Landlord must provide this notice to the tenant(s) in the language used to negotiate the lease.
    • The Notice of Termination must be provided to the tenant(s) in advance of the proposed move out date. The timing of the notice depends on several factors and must be at least:
      • 3 days prior to move-out date: for any tenant who fails to pay rent or fails to resolve issue(s) that breach the lease
      • 30 days prior to move out date: for tenant living in unit for less than one year
      • 60 days prior to move out date: for tenant living in unit for at least one year
      • 120 days if the termination constitutes a “withdrawal from the rental market”
      • 365 days if the termination constitutes a “withdrawal from the rental market” and at the request of the tenant (within 60 days of notice date) who has resided in the unit for at least a year and is over the age of 62 or is disabled.
      • Timing dependent: if the termination constitutes a “withdrawal from the rental market” or “owner to occupy dwelling unit” and the household includes a child under the age of 18 or an educator, the move out date cited on the Notice of Termination may not be during their school year.
  2. Additional Noticing: The “No-fault” reasons for terminating a tenancy permitted under the TPA include the following and require additional noticing as noted below:
    • Permanent withdrawal from rental market. Require Notice 6G: English | Español
      • Additional memorandum is also needed. The City is working with the County Recorder’s Office to create this memorandum and will be linked here once available.
    • Owner to occupy dwelling unit. Require Notice 6H: EnglishEspañol
    • Substantial rehabilitation for health and safety. Require Notice 6I: – English | Español
  3. Stop Accepting Rent
    • If you have provided your tenant with the Notice of Termination, you may not collect rent beyond the intended move-out date.

Pay Relocation

If Landlord terminates a tenancy without cause (to permanently remove a unit from the market, owner to occupy a unit, or for substantial rehabilitation) the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance. The assistance can be a direct payment or credit towards payments due.

Amount of relocation assistance: 

  • 100% of one month of rent; or
  • 150% of one month rent if the tenant household:
  • Qualifies as low income; or
  • Includes a member with a disability; or
  • Includes a member over the age of 62; or
  • Includes a child below the age of 18; or
  • The tenancy commenced prior to January 1, 2010

Offer Unit to Original Tenant

Owner must re-offer the dwelling unit to the displaced tenant at the same rent and subject to the same terms as when the tenancy was terminated if:

  • The owner or owner’s relative fails to occupy the dwelling unit within 90 days of the tenant household vacating the dwelling unit; or
  • The owner or owner’s relative fails to occupy the residential unit for at least three consecutive years following the move out date.
  • The unit was returned to the market within 5 years of the withdrawal date. In this case the tenant has a right of first refusal to return to the unit at a rent that does not exceed the lawful rent at the time the unit was withdrawn, subject to adjustments for cost of living.

Record Memorandum

If you remove the unit from the rental market, you are required to record a summary memorandum encumbering the unit for 10 years and provide a copy of the recorded memorandum to the City.

The following notices must be submitted to the City:

  • The notice required when a unit is removed from the rental market.
  • Copy of the recorded memorandum
  • Notice that the owner intents to return the unit to the residential rental market

Submit forms in person or by mail to:  11 English St, Petaluma, 94952; or by email to: [email protected].

The City of Petaluma’s tenant protection ordinance authorizes tenants to bring civil actions to determine the applicability of the Ordinance to their tenancy. If the tenants prevail in a wrongful eviction action, they may recover their attorneys’ fees from the owner.

The City’s Ordinance does not address rental increases. However, the California Tenant Protection Act (TPA) does limit rent increases. Under the TPA, annual rent increases are limited to 5% plus a cost of living adjustment or 10%, whichever is less. This CA guide for tenants and landlords includes all state rules describing these limits.

The TPA exempts the following properties from its rent control protections:

  • Housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years (this is a rolling date)
  • Owner-occupied duplexes
  • Student occupants of higher education dormitories
  • Residential real property that is alienable separately from the title to any other dwelling unit (i.e., single family homes and townhomes), with certain ownership restrictions (i.e., not owned by a corporation or investment trust);
  • Affordable housing; and
  • Assisted housing developments.

The information on this website is intended to help Petaluma tenants and landlords understand and comply with the City's residential rental property regulations. This information is not legal advice. Staff will be happy to respond to questions about the effect of the City's regulations. However, tenants and landlords are strongly encouraged to consult with qualified legal professionals before making decisions that affect their rights.

Buckelew Supportive Housing

HOW TO GET HELP?

Petaluma People Service Center
  • Free, non-biased services to all tenants, agents, and landlords who live in, manage, or own property in Petaluma.
  • Phone: 707-765-8488
City of Petaluma Housing Manager
  • Questions about the City's rules and submitting required forms.
  • Email: [email protected]
Legal Aid of Sonoma County
  • Help with eviction defense, Section 8 issues, mobile home park support, habitability problems, and price gouging for low-income tenants.
  • Phone: 707-843-4432

 

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