Skip to main content

What is Rent Control and What Does it Mean?

Although state law provides that an owner may terminate a month-to-month tenancy for no reason or any reason at all if 30 or 60 days' written notice is given, commonly local rent control laws require "just cause" to evict, meaning an owner may only evict a tenant for one or more of the reasons stated in the rent control law [see, e.g., Berkeley Mun Code ? 13.76.130; Beverly Hills Code ? 4-5-501 et seq.; East Palo Alto Mun Code ? 14.04.290(A); Los Angeles Mun Code ? 151.09(A); Oakland Mun Code ? 8.22.300 et seq.; San Francisco Admin Code ? 37.9; Santa Monica Charter ? 1806; West Hollywood Mun Code ? 17.52.010 et seq.]. A landlord's violation of the local rent control ordinance may give rise to an affirmative damages claim by the tenant, which may be asserted in a separate action in addition to being asserted as a defense to an unlawful detainer action. If an area is subject to rent control, "just cause" for an eviction can include, but may not be limited to, the following grounds. 1) Nonpayment of rent is a ground for eviction under state law [see CCP ? 1161(2)] and commonly also under local rent control laws; 2) A tenant's breach of a rental agreement covenant and failure to cure the breach is a ground for eviction under state law [see CCP ? 1161(3)] and commonly also under local rent control laws; 3) The conduct of a tenant constituting a nuisance or causing physical harm to the unit is a ground for eviction under state law [see CCP ? 1161(4)] and commonly also under local rent control laws; 4) The unlawful use of the unit is a ground for eviction under state law [see CCP ? 1161(4)] and commonly also under local rent control law; 5) A tenant's holding over after refusing to extend or renew on similar terms is a ground for eviction under state law [see CCP ? 1161(1)] and commonly also under local rent control laws; 6) A tenant's refusal to allow the owner access to the unit is a ground for eviction under state law [see CC ? 1954] and commonly also under local rent control laws; 7) Subject to certain limitations, such as in San Francisco which protects specific classes of tenants, an owner's or an owner's family member's intent to occupy the unit is a ground for eviction under state law [see CC ? 1947.10] and commonly also under local rent control laws; and 8) The owner's intent to substantially remodel, repair, or renovate the unit is commonly a ground for eviction under local rent control laws. Worth mentioning in today's economy, in most eviction control jurisdictions tenants may not be evicted on the basis of a foreclosure sale. A duly enacted local eviction control ordinance may properly limit grounds for eviction to enumerated causes or expressly preclude sale of the property as a grounds for eviction. Lucky for landlords, most rental units in California are not rent-controlled. However, if the unit is in a city with rent control, there are many more protections in place for tenants, only some of which have been discussed above. The best way to find out if rent control applies to a unit is to check with the city or county offices, with the local legal aid, self help center, or an experienced Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County eviction attorney. For more information about jurisdictions subject to rent control, you may refer to the following sites: www.caltenantlaw.com/RCcities.htm www.housingrights.com/askhri/rentcontrol.htm www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Rent/other/other.html The information at these websites may not be current, so be sure to also check with your city or county offices.

Rate this guide


Recommended articles about Real estate

Can’t find what you’re looking for?


Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer