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Apartment Rent Ordinance

Upcoming Action Items

The Housing & Community Development Commission held a special meeting on October 5, 2017 to discuss the Tenant Protection Ordinance and the revised Apartment Rent Ordinance.  The amended Tenant Protection Ordinance and memorandum are available for review.  The memo outlining the changes to the draft Apartment Rent Ordinance and Regulations is available for review. The report includes proposed staff changes to the Ordinance as a result of feedback received during the public comment period.  The draft Apartment Rent Ordinance (ARO) and Regulations were available for public review and comment from August 14, 2017 to September 22, 2017.

The City Council will be considering the following revisions:

  •  A potential amendment to the Tenant Protection Ordinance to add criminal activity as a basis for eviction.
  •  Amending anti-retaliation to prohibit landlords from threatening notification of immigration status.
  •  Consideration of the modified Apartment Rent Ordinance including the annual increase to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with banking provision.
  •  Consideration an income discrimination ordinance.
  •  Consideration of mediation program to resolve landlord/tenant disputes.
(Additional issues including criminal activity, immigration status, and source of income will be discussed at a future Council meeting in the winter.)


The following public meetings will be hosted by the Housing Department to discuss the draft documents: 




 Housing & Community Development Commission Meeting
November 9, 2017
5:45 p.m.
City Hall Wing Rooms 119-120
200 E Santa Clara St
 Adding duplexes to the Apartment Rent Ordinance
 City Council Meeting
November 14, 2017 
 1:30 p.m.  

City Hall Council Chambers

200 E. Santa Clara St

 Amendment to the Tenant Protection Ordinance Memo

Revised Apartment Rent Ordinance and Regulations Memo

Staffing Plan and Associated Fee Increase Memo

 Apartment Rent Ordinance Overview

In 1979, the San José City Council appointed a task force to address issues in rental housing. In July 1979, the City Council adopted a rent stabilization ordinance for mobilehome parks and apartments, and created the City's Rental Rights and Referrals Program to administer the ordinance. In 1985 the City Council voted to separate the Rent Stabilization Ordinance into two separate ordinances - one for mobilehome parks, and another for apartments. 

The Apartment Rent Ordinance, found in Municipal Code Chapter 17.23, and its companion Regulations control rent increases on apartments that are covered by the ordinance. At this time, changes are being made to the Apartment Rent Ordinance and additional provisions are in place. Please see the Interim Ordinance and the Revised Interim Regulations which are currently in effect. 

Apartment Rent Ordinance Coverage 

Properties that are covered by San José's Apartment Rent Ordinance include apartments with three or more units that were built and occupied prior to September 7, 1979.

Rental housing developments exempted from the ordinance include single family homes,in-law units/granny flats/accessory dwelling units, duplexes, condominiums, townhomes, hotels, boarding houses rented to transient guests for periods of less than 30 days, nonprofit homes for the aged, school dormitories, rental units owned and operated by any government agency, any new rental units first rented after September 7, 1979, and properties in unincorporated areas of San José.

If you have an inquiry about a property outside of San José, please check with that specific city for more information about any regulations that may apply.

To determine if a property is rent-controlled, you can view a map of rent controlled properties, and follow these directions:
  1. Select "Multiple Housing Roster" on the menu on the left side of the screen to view properties covered by the Apartment Rent Ordinance.
    (If the menu does not automatically show when you open the map, click the blue box with the three white horizontal lines inside to open the menu.)
  2. Type in the property address at the top left and press enter.
  3. Click the tan marker indicating the address location to view how many rent-controlled units are located there.
Please note that the property information included in the map may not be completely up-to-date. 

Please contact staff at (408) 975-4480 if you have questions or to confirm the status of a particular property.


Allowable Rent Increase Under the Ordinance 
Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, rent increases may only be given once in a 12-month period. The maximum annual allowable increase is 5%.  

The City Council has directed that changes be made to the Apartment Rent Ordinance. Staff anticipates that revisions to the Ordinance will be completed by the end of 2017.

Beginning June 17, 2016, an Interim Ordinance will be in effect until revisions to the Apartment Rent Ordinance are completed. The Interim Ordinance reduces the annual allowable rent increase from 8% to 5% and outlines the process for filing cost pass-through petitions.  

Exceptions to the Allowable Rent Increases

Rent increases that are exempt from these requirements include an increase after the rental unit has been voluntarily vacated by the tenant, and an increase after eviction of a tenant. 

Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, both property owners and tenants may file a petition. Property owners who file a petition to increase rent in excess 5% must submit a cost worksheet to the Rental Rights and Referrals Program. Pending a decision by the Hearing Officer, the amount of rent in excess of 5% is deferred and only an 5% rent increase should be demanded or paid.

Starting September 1, 2016, capital improvement, debt service, operations and maintenance, and rehabilitation pass-through petitions will no longer be accepted by our office. Landlords may file a Fair Return petition if they would like to request the ability to increase rent more than 5% because of substantial capital improvements or capital expenses, unusually low rents, uninsured damage or vandalism, or other reasons. Please follow the link to view the petition and instructions.

Tenants with a rent increase subject to review and/or service reduction claims or housing code violations may file a petition. 

Service Reductions
A service reduction has occurred when the level of service provided by the landlord has been reduced without a corresponding decrease in rent. The Ordinance allows tenants to request an administrative hearing for a service reduction claim. The tenant has the burden of proof to their claim by submitting evidence such as maintenance record requests, photographs, and/or testimony. If the claim is proven, the Hearing Officer will determine the percentage that the usability of the rental unit was reduced and the duration of the reduction. If the rent increase is unreasonable, the Hearing Officer may reduce a rent increase, order a credit against the paid and/or permanent or temporary reduction in future rent. 

Housing Code Violations
A housing code violation has occurred when there are health and safety defects which violate the San José Housing Code and/or California Civil Code Sections 1941.1 and 1941.2. The tenant has the burden to prove their claim by submitting evidence such as a Code Enforcement Inspection which is considered presumptive evidence.  Unless there is sufficient evidence to the contrary, violations listed in the report are considered to have been proven to exist. Issues of this type may also be classified as 'service reductions' under the City's ordinance. The Hearing Officer may reduce, disallow or reasonably condition any rent increase based on the severity of any Housing Code violations. 

Freedom to Exercise Rights
Apartment owners may not do the following in retaliation for tenants demanding their rights under the Ordinance: 
•Threaten to sue, evict or terminate the tenancy of the tenant(s). 
•Harass you until you leave. 
•Reduce your services. 
•Increase your rent. 
•Impose a security deposit or any other new charge. 

If any of these actions occur, provide a written complaint to the Rental Rights & Referrals Program.