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
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].
What Steps Are Required to Terminate a Tenancy?
- 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.
- 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: English | Español
- Substantial rehabilitation for health and safety. Require Notice 6I: – English | Español
- 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.
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.
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.
Notice of Tenant Rights and When Is It Required?
NOTICE OF TENANT RIGHTS – ENGLISH | 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.
When Can a Landlord Terminate a Tenancy?
“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
- 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
When does the Ordinance apply?
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.
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.
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/.