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. 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:

  • Within 30 days of Chapter 6.60 taking effect, or by November 17, 2022
  • 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 buying 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 where a tenant has lawfully resided for a continuous period of six months or more, except:

  • Dwelling units that are owned by a government agency; or
    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; 
  • Dwelling units in developments in which at least forty-nine percent of the dwelling units are subject to affordable rent deed restrictions in accordance with state law;
  • Dwelling units with tenant managers; and
  • Dwelling unit that is the owner's primary residence that they share with the tenant.


The City’s Tenant Protections take effect after a tenant has lawfully and continuously resided in the unit for at least a year for:

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

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: 

  1. The tenant fails to pay rent within three days of receiving written notice from the landlord demanding payment. 
  2. The tenant continues to violate material terms of the rental agreement after the landlord’s written notice to cure. 
  3. Tenant conducts illegal activity that during the tenancy at or within a thousand feet of the rental property.  
  4. Threat of violent crime made by a tenant or at their direction to any person who is on the rental property or to the landlord, or to the landlord’s agent.
  5. The tenant or tenant household creates or permits a nuisance at or within one thousand feet of the rental property after the landlord’s written notice to cease, and a reasonable period to cure the nuisance. 
  6. The tenant fails to give the landlord reasonable landlord access to the rental property after the landlord’s written notice to provide access.


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:

  1. Termination of a residential tenancy to permanently withdraw a residential rental property from the rental market in accordance with the Ellis Act.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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. 

If a tenancy is terminated for any of the reasons above, the tenant is entitled to relocation benefits.


Exceptions and Limitations for “no-fault” terminations:

  1. A tenancy CANNOT be terminated during the school year if the tenant is employed as an educator in a Petaluma school or has a child in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.
  2. 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 without cause (to permanently remove the unit from the market, owner to occupy the 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

Other Tenant Rights

In some cases, an 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. These cases are:

  • The property is returned to the rental market within 10 years of the time the unit was withdrawn from the rental market for Ellis Act evictions.
  • If the unit was returned to the market within 5 years of the withdrawal date for Ellis Act eviction.  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.
  • 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.


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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