Tenant Rights

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Your Right As A Tenant

Do you rent a residential unit in the City of Petaluma?  If so, then you should know about new rules that may protect you from some evictions, provide proper notice for evictions, and/or pay you money to cover relocation costs when you are evicted. 

The City’s Residential Tenancy Protections (Tenant Protections) were adopted on September 12, 2022 and took effect on October 12, 2022. The protections were amended on May 15, 2023 and took effect on June 15, 2023. To learn more about the Tenant Protections in Petaluma, click here

The Tenant Protections require Landlords to provide tenants with this Notice of Tenant Rights:
English  |  Español

Notice of Tenant Rights must be provided to tenants:

  • When renewing a rental agreement,
  • When entering into a new rental agreement,
  • When providing notice of a rental increase,
  • Within 30 days after the City has amended this notice and provided a landlord the new notice,
  • Before terminating a rental agreement
  • Before selling a rental property, and
  • Within 30 days after acquiring title to a property.

Landlords CANNOT raise rents or terminate a tenancy until this notice has been provided to a tenant. The Tenant Protections also provide the option for tenants to defend against a rent increase or tenancy termination.  If a tenant is successful, they may recover their attorneys’ fees and other costs from the court.

Properties Covered by the City's Residential Tenancy Protections

The City’s Residential Tenancy Protections apply to all residential rental properties in Petaluma, except:

  • 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.


The City’s Tenant Protections take effect on the first day of a tenancy of a protected property.

Permitted Reasons for Terminating a Tenancy

In some cases, landlords choose to terminate residential tenancies for reasons related to actions taken by the tenants. Qualifying reasons (called “For Cause.”) are:

  • Failure to pay rent: The tenant failed to pay rent within three days of receiving written notice from the landlord demanding payment.
  • Breach of rental agreement: The tenant has violated a material term of the rental agreement, received notice, and did not comply.
  • Tenant illegal activity: The tenant has committed criminal activity on the property or at the owner or owner’s agent.
  • Unlawful use of Premises: The tenant is using the premises for an unlawful purpose as described in Section 1161 of the Civil Code.
  • Nuisance: The tenant has maintained, committed, or permitted a nuisance.or tenant household continues to create or permit a nuisance after written notice to cease.
  • Failure to Give Access: The tenant has refused to provide legal access to the landlord after written notice.
  • Committing Waste: Tenant has committed waste as described in Section 1161 of the Civil Code.
  • Refusal to Enter a New Lease: The tenant had a written lease after the effective date of the Ordinance and after a written request from the landlord, the tenant refused to execute a written renewal of the lease.
  • Prohibited Assignment, Subletting: Assignment or subletting the premises in violation of the tenant’s lease.
  • Failure to Vacate: The tenant fails to vacate after their termination as an employee to the landlord.
  • Failure to Deliver Possession: The Tenant fails to deliver possession of the property after providing landlord written notice of intent to terminate the real property.

Under the City’s Tenant Protections, landlords can terminate residential tenancies for reasons that are not the fault of the tenant (called “no-fault,”). The reasons that qualify under the “no fault” terminations are:

  • Termination of a residential tenancy to permanently withdraw a residential rental property from the rental market.
  • Termination of a residential tenancy to permit the landlord or one of the landlord’s relatives to reside in the property as their primary residence.
  • Termination of a residential tenancy for substantial repairs to the rental property that cannot be completed while the unit is occupied to comply with health and safety codes after the landlord has obtained all necessary permits for the repair work.
  • Termination of a residential tenancy to comply with either an order issued by a government agency or court that requires tenant to vacate the property.

If a tenancy is terminated for any of the “no-fault” reasons above, the tenant is entitled to relocation benefits.

A landlord may not terminate a tenancy in retaliation for a tenant exercising their rights of the Tenant Protections.

Relocation Assistance

If Landlord terminates a tenancy for a “no-fault” reason (to permanently remove the unit from the market, owner to occupy the unit, for substantial rehabilitation, or to comply with a government or court 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

Other Tenant Rights

  • For “No-Fault” terminations the Owner must re-offer the dwelling unit to the displaced tenant for six months after the displacement if the unit is rented again.
  • Authorizes tenants to bring civil actions to determine the applicability of the proposed ordinance to the tenancy or for violations of the ordinance
  • Tenants who prevail in wrongful evictions shall recover their costs and attorney’s fees.

View a PDF version of the Notice of Tenant Rights:  English  |  Español

To learn more about the Tenant Protections in Petaluma, click here

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