Tenant Protections Ordinance

Tenant Protections in Petaluma

Effective Fall 2022, the City of Petaluma might have special rules that apply to the eviction of tenants in single family homes, condominiums, and other residential dwellings.

These rules limit the reasons residentials tenants can be evicted and require residential property owners and managers to take additional steps and provide financial compensation to their tenants under certain circumstances.

The City Council is considering final adoption of these rules at their meeting on September 12, 2022.

Learn More

Property Owners and Managers

  • Read the background information and FAQs below
  • Attend the Zoom meeting: Property Owners and Managers will have a chance to learn about the ordinance, ask questions, and meet the City of Petaluma housing manager at a Zoom meeting planned for September 2022.
  • Please contact [email protected] for information about the webinar and to receive copies of forms that need to be filed when evicting tenants.

Tenants

  • Please read the background information FAQs below
  • If you have questions about your rights, please contact the City's Housing Department at [email protected]

Background

On August 1, 2022, the City Council introduced an ordinance to add a new Chapter 6.60 entitled “Residential Tenancy Protections” to the Petaluma Municipal Code. The complete Ordinance can be found here: https://petaluma.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=31&clip_id=3706&meta_id=534571 

The Ordinance expands the state law eviction protections in the Tenant Protections Act of 2019, Government Code Sections 1945.2 and 1947.12 – 1947.13. The Tenant Protection Act includes both “just cause eviction” protections and “rent cap” limits. The Ordinance also includes eviction protections and relocation benefits as permitted by the Ellis Act, Government Code Sections 7060 and following.   The Ellis Act permits landlords to evict tenants to remove their residential unit from the rental housing market. The Ordinance establishes notice requirements, relocation assistance and rights to return to a rental property for qualifying tenants when the landlord decides to remove the unit from the rental housing market.  The Ordinance does not establish local rent control. Instead, the Ordinance provides expanded for cause eviction protection and Ellis Act tenant protections in addition to the statewide rent control under the Tenant Protection Act. 

CLICK ON THE LIST OF FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BELOW FOR MORE INFO

On May 2, 2022, the City Council voted to include “Adoption of Tenant Protection Ordinance Package” as one of its Top Ten Goals for Fiscal Years 2022-2024. The Ordinance helps fulfill this Council goal.  The tenant protections in the Ordinance include limits on tenant evictions in addition to the eviction restrictions in the Tenant Protection Act.  The Ordinance makes qualifying tenants eligible for eviction protections sooner than the Tenant Protection Act.  The Ordinance also includes notice requirements, relocation assistance and rights to return to a rental property for qualifying tenants as permitted by the Ellis Act when landlords withdraw their property from the residential market.

The City Council is scheduled to consider adoption of the Ordinance at the September 12, 2022, City Council meeting. If adopted the Ordinance will take effect thirty days later on October 12, 2022.  

When the City Council introduced the Ordinance on August 1, 2022, they included a sunset provision.  As a result, if the Ordinance is adopted it will expire on March 1, 2023.  The City Council indicated they wanted City staff to use the time before the Ordinance expires to perform additional outreach to the community, speak with community members affected by the Ordinance and collect data on the Petaluma rental market and the needs of tenants and landlords. Continuation of local tenant protections like those in the Ordinance will require the City Council to amend the Ordinance to extend or eliminate the expiration date or to introduce and adopt a new ordinance.  The City Council could choose to amend the provisions of the Ordinance based on the feedback received from the community before it expires. 

The Ordinance applies to all residential rental units in Petaluma in which a tenant has lawfully resided for a continuous period of six months or more, except for:

  1. Dwelling units
    a. that are owned by a government agency; or
    b. that receive rent subsidies from a government agency so that the tenant’s portion of the rent does not exceed thirty percent of household income; 
  2. Dwelling units in developments in which at least forty-nine percent of the dwelling units are subject to affordable housing deed restrictions in accordance with California Health and Safety Code Section 50053. 
  3. Dwelling units with tenant managers. and
  4. Dwelling units in which the owner resides with a tenant as the owner’s primary residence.

The protections in the Ordinance take effect after a tenant has lawfully and continuously resided in the unit for at least a year for the following:

  1. Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units as defined in the City’s Implementing Zoning Ordinance; and
  2. Units on the same property where the owner resides. 

Before a landlord can issue a notice of termination of a tenancy in accordance with the Ordinance, the landlord must: 

  1. Provide notice of tenant rights guaranteed by the Ordinance (If the City Council adopts the Ordinance a link to the City’s tenant rights notice form will be added here); and 
  2. Serve a notice of termination that gives at least one “just cause” for terminating the tenancy that is a permitted basis for termination under the Ordinance.

A sample of acceptable notices will be available starting in October 2022.

Like the Tenant Protection Act, the Ordinance separates the “just causes” for terminating a tenancy into “for cause” and “no-fault” just causes. 

“For Cause” Just Causes 

  1. Failure to pay rent within three days of receiving written notice from the landlord demanding payment. 
  2. Continuing violation of material terms of the rental agreement after written notice to cure. 
  3. Tenant illegal activity that occurred during the tenancy at or within on thousand feet of the dwelling unit or the lot where the dwelling unit is located.  
  4. Threat of violent crime made by a tenant or at their direction to any person who is on the lot that includes the dwelling unit or to the landlord, or to the landlord’s agent.
  5. The tenant or tenant household creating or permitting a nuisance at or within one thousand feet of the dwelling unit or the lot where the dwelling unit is located after written notice to cease, and the passage of a reasonable period of time to cure the nuisance. 
  6. Failure to give the landlord reasonable landlord access to the unit after the landlord has served written notice. 

“No Fault” just causes

  1. Permanent withdrawal of a residential unit from the rental market. in accordance with the Ellis Act.
  2. The owner or one of the owner’s relatives intends to reside in the dwelling unit as their primary residence .  
  3. Substantial rehabilitation for health and safety that cannot be completed while the unit is occupied of a dwelling unit that qualifies for the protections of the Ordinance when the landlord has obtained all necessary permits for the work. 

The “just causes” in the Ordinance mirror the “just causes” in the Tenant Protections Act. If the eviction is based on a “no-fault” “just cause” the tenant will be entitled to relocation benefits described here.

The tenant protections ordinance requires the following:

  • Property owners/landlords must provide notice to tenants about their rights under the Ordinance: within thirty days of the Ordinance taking effect; when entering a new rental agreement; when renewing a rental agreement; when giving notice of a rent increase; and within thirty days of amendments to the Ordinance that affect tenants’ rights  (PMC Section 6.60.040).
  • All notices required by the Ordinance must be in English and Spanish, and if the rental agreement is in a language other than English or Spanish, the notices must also be in the language of the lease. (PMC Section 6.60.040(C) & 6.60.060(B)).
  • A tenant/tenant household that is evicted for “no-fault” is entitled to receive a payment or rent credit equal to100% of their monthly rent as relocation assistance. If the tenant qualifies as a low income tenant under the Ordinance, is over 62 years old, is disabled, or has a child, the tenant/tenant household is entitled to an additional relocation assistance payment or rent credit in an amount equal to 50% of their monthly rent.
  • The Ordinance establishes a defense against “no-fault” evictions for notices of termination fall within the school year for tenants and tenant households that have a school aged child (in kindergarten through 12th grade) and for tenants who are employed as educators in a school in Petaluma. (PMC Section 6.60.050(E)).
  • The Ordinance establishes a defense against eviction if the tenant can demonstrate that the eviction was in retaliation of the tenant exercising their rights under the Ordinance. (PMC Section 6.60.110).
  • Requires notice of rights of tenants to tenants before and after sale of rental units.
  • The Ordinance creates a civil cause of action for tenants to sue landlords for violations of the Ordinance. (PMC Section 6.60.100(B)) The Ordinance creates a cause of action for the City for injunctive relief for violations of the Ordinance, and any of the other remedies listed in Chapters 1.10-1.16 of the Petaluma Municipal Code, which include civil and criminal enforcement. (PMC Section 6.60.100(C))
  • The Ordinance authorizes tenants to bring civil actions to determine the applicability of the Ordinance to their tenancy (PMC Section 6.60.100(D))
  • The Ordinance provides that tenants who prevail in wrongful eviction actions are able to recover their costs and attorney’s fees. (PMC Section 6.60.100(A))

The table below summarizes the requirements for landlords to withdraw their property from the residential market. 

Activity

Timeline

Citations

Notice of intent to withdraw is provided to tenants. PMC Section 6.60.070(A)
(1)
A copy of the withdrawal notice is delivered to the City Housing Manager. Within 10 days of delivery of notice to tenants PMC Section 6.60.070(A)
(2)
Owner must record summary memorandum encumbering the property for 10 years. Within 14 days of delivery of notice to City Housing Manager PMC Section 6.60.070(A)
(3)
Owner must deliver a conformed copy of the recorded summary memorandum to City Housing Manager. Within 60 days of delivery of notice to City Housing Manager PMC Section 6.60.070(A)
(3)
Earliest effective date of withdrawal of a building from the residential rental market. 120 days from delivery of notice to the City Housing Manager or one year from delivery of notice if the tenant household has a tenant 62 years or older or who is disabled. The withdrawal cannot occur during the school year if the tenant household has a child under 18 or an educator. PMC Section 6.60.070(A)
(1) & 6.60.050(E)
Owner must pay tenant relocation assistance of 100% of a month’s rent and an additional 50% if the tenant is a “Low Income,” tenant, is disabled, elderly, has a child, or been under lease since 2010. Within 14 days of withdrawal PMC Section 6.60.080
Owner must notify City Housing Manager and former tenants of intent to return unit to residential rental market; and
tenant displaced by withdrawal has right of first refusal to return to the unit under the original lease terms. The displaced tenant and the City can sue for exemplary damages.
Within 2 years of withdrawal PMC Section 6.60.090(A)-(B)
If the rental unit is returned to the rental market within 5 years of the withdrawal date,  the displaced tenant has a right of first refusal to return to the unit at a rent the that does not exceed the lawful rent at the time the unit was withdrawn, subject to allowable adjustments under the Tenant Protection Act. Within 5 years of withdrawal PMC Section 6.60.090(A)
Owner must notify the City Housing Manager of intent to return the unit to the residential rental market; and
The displaced tenant has a right of first refusal to return to the unit.
Within 10 years of withdrawal PMC Section 6.60.090(A) & (C)

 

The City Council has directed that staff prepare an urgency ordinance for possible adoption at the September 12, 2022, City Council meeting to continue in Petaluma Covid-related eviction protections like those Sonoma County enacted that will expire on September 22, 2022.

The urgency ordinance, if adopted by the City Council, will take effect September 22, 2022, and expire when the City’s tenant protection Ordinance, discussed above, takes effect.  The purpose of the urgency ordinance is continuity of Covid-related tenant protections until the City’s tenant protection Ordinance takes effect. 

Like the County ordinance, the urgency ordinance would prohibit eviction of tenants who demonstrate in accordance with the requirements of the ordinance that they are unable to pay rent as a result of decreased income or increased expenses due to COVID-19.  Also like the County ordinance, the urgency ordinance would not excuse rent payments due and would require repayment of rent payments due by the time specified in the ordinance, and permit landlords to recover rent due in accordance with the ordinance.

The City will be conducting an information meeting in late September 2022. This meeting will be oriented for property owners, property managers, and nonprofit tenants rights organizations. However, any member of the public is welcome to join.

For details about the meeting or to contact City staff, please contact the City Housing Manager at [email protected] 

The City’s tenant rights notice and other forms are available to download from our Tenants Protections webpage. To receive printed in person or electronic copies via email, please contact our Housing Manager at [email protected].

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