Housing FAQs

Rules Regarding Rent Increases

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.

Special Rights Afforded to Tenants

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.

Where to Send Notices Required by the City

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

What Steps Are Required to Terminate a Tenancy?

  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 is in accordance with the Civil Code.
  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 6L: English  |  Español
    • Owner to occupy dwelling unit. Require Notice 6M: English  |  Español
    • Substantial rehabilitation for health and safety. Require Notice 6N: – 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 for “No-fault” (to permanently remove a unit from the market, owner to occupy a unit, for substantial rehabilitation, or government order) the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance. The assistance can be a direct payment or credit towards payments due.  

Amount of relocation assistance: 

  • 250% of one month of rent or $9,000 whichever is less.

Offer Unit to Original Tenant

Owner must re-offer the dwelling unit to the displaced tenant if tenant is dispaced through a “no-fault” termination and provides notice to the landlord that they want the first right of refusal if the unit is placed back on the rental market six months after displacement. 

Notice of Tenant Rights and When Is It Required?


Landlords must notify their tenants about their rights when:

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

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

When Can a Landlord Terminate a Tenancy?

“At-fault” reasons to terminate a tenancy include when a tenant: 

  • Fails to pay rent 
  • Breaches rental agreement 
  • Tenant commits illegal activity
  • Unlawful use of premises
  • Tenant is maintaining the unit as a nuisance
  • Commits waste of the unit
  • Refuses to enter a substantially similar new lease
  • Sublets in violation of the lease
  • Fails to vacate if fired by landlord and lodging was part of the job
  • Fails to give access to landlord 
  • Fails to deliver possession of unit after notifying owner that tenant would deliver.

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

  • Owner wants to remove a unit from the rental market 
  • Owner or family member wants to occupy unit 
  • Substantial rehabilitation to the unit is needed for health and safety purposes 
  • Government or court ordered unit to be vacated

Owner may not terminate a tenancy in retaliation of the tenant exercising their rights under the Ordinance

When does the Ordinance apply?

The Ordinance applies on the first day of tenancy.


The following situations are not subject to the Petaluma rules:

  • Transient and tourist occupancies
  • Housing accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, extended care facility, licensed residential care facility for the elderly.
  • Dormitories owned and operated by a school.
  • Small Property Owners – Small Property Owners are:
    • Owners who own 3 or fewer units and who are NOT real estate investment trusts, corporations, or limited liability companies w/ at least 1 corporate member
      • Required notice must be provided in writing and must state the following:
        • “The property is not subject to the just cause requirements in Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code or in Chapter 6.60 Petaluma Municipal Code, and the owner is not a real estate investment trust, corporation, or limited liability company with at least one corporate member, and owns three or fewer residential units in Petaluma.”
  • Temporary Tenancies: Tenancy in the primary residence of the owner that is less than 12 months in duration pursuant to an agreement specifying a date when the rental agreement will expire and the tenant shall surrender the unit so the owner may re-occupy it as their primary residence.
  • Tenant Property Managers: Any dwelling unit occupied by a tenant who is employed by a landlord for the purpose of managing the property or by a tenant who is permitted to reside in the dwelling unit in consideration of managing the property.
  • Units Shared with Owner: Any dwelling unit in which the owner resides with a tenant or tenant household as the owner’s primary residence and in which the owner shares a bathroom or kitchen with the tenant or tenant household.

How do I find out if there are any affordable housing vacancies in Petaluma?

You need to call each of the affordable housing developments in Petaluma to learn if there are vacancies. Refer to the list of affordable housing developments for contact information.  Be sure to check eligibility requirements and consider putting your name on a waiting list if there are no vacancies currently.

How do I apply for Section 8 vouchers?

Sonoma County Housing Authority manages the Section 8 voucher program for all of Sonoma County, including Petaluma.  Please call (707) 565-7500 or visit their website.

How do I get help if I am homeless?

Contact the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), at 707-765-6530 or [email protected].  COTS manages Petaluma’s two homeless shelters (the adults-only Mary Isaak Center and the Family Shelter) and can refer you to an array of services, including housing.  

Another resource is the County’s Coordinated Entry System, which matches people experiencing homelessness with available housing and other services. Call (866) 542-5480 or visit the Coordinated Entry System webpage at ttps://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CDC/Homeless-Services/Coordinated-Entry-System/.

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