Campbell California Tenant Rights

Campbell Tenant Rights & Rent Control Ordinance

As a renter or tenant in Campbell, CA, there are local Campbell tenant laws which compliment the rental laws provided by the State of California. It is important to learn your Campbell tenant rights if you are living in a property subject to Campbell rent control ordinances.

Campbell is one of the California cities that has protections for tenants under rent control.  Many factors determine whether a rental unit is subject to the protections under rent control.  Contact our knowledgeable attorneys today to determine whether your rental unit qualifies for the protections offered by the Campbell Rent Control Ordinance.

Application

Campbell’s Rent Control Ordinance (Chapter 6.09 of the Campbell Municipal Code) applies to all rental units in the city of Campbell where there are more than three units on one piece of land or complex.  It does not apply to accommodations in hotels or boarding houses which last less than 30 days, rental units operated by a government agency, or units whose rent is subsidized by any government agency.

Notice requirements

Chapter 6.09 requires landlords to notify tenants of the tenants’ rights under Chapter 6.09 both at the time when the tenant moves in, and when the landlord attempts to increase the rent.  Landlords may not increase the rent without notifying tenants of their rights regarding mediation services. No rental increase is effective unless the tenant receives proper notice as outlined below.

Notice at move-in:  By law, the landlord must provide certain information when the tenant moves in. The landlord cannot legally raise the rent unless the information is provided to the tenant. 

On or before the tenant’s move in date, the landlord must provide certain information to the tenant.  The landlord may not increase the rent unless the information has been provided to the tenant whose rent is to be increased. The information must include:

  • An information pamphlet prepared by the city consisting of no more than two 8 ½ inch by 14 inch sheets of paper, which describes dispute resolution procedures available by law; and
  • A written document providing the name, address and telephone number of the landlord or the landlord’s agents who must be reasonably available between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The contact information must be for a person who is authorized to resolve issues concerning rent, evictions, repairs, maintenance, and on-site services;
  • The name and telephone number of persons responsible for responding to emergencies after hours and on weekends must be provided to tenants in writing;
  • If the contact information above is for someone other than the owner, then the tenant must also be given, in writing, the name, address and telephone number of the owner, or the owner’s agent, who has authority to resolve complaints regarding the person handling issues related to the apartment.  The owner or his agent must be reasonably available between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

C.M.C. Section 6.09.035.

Notice before rental increase:  Before the landlord can increase the rent, he or she must notify the tenant in writing about Campbell’s arbitration procedure for rental increases.  The landlord cannot legally increase the rent unless and until he or she provides the information to the tenant. 

The landlord must give the tenant the following notice (labeled “Notice,” below), in writing, and the notice must be attached to any notice of rent increase.  The required notice must be of the same size font as the rest of the document and be clearly visible on the document.  It must state the following, word for word, with the correct information added by the landlord.  If this notice is not given to the tenant before the rental increase, the rental increase is not legal.

NOTICE: Chapter 6.09 of the Campbell Municipal Code provides a conciliation and mediation procedure for property owners and tenants to communicate when there are disputes over rent increases (rent increases can include a significant reduction in housing services). To use this non-binding procedure, the tenants shall first make a reasonable, good faith effort to contact the property owner or the property owner’s agent to resolve the rent increase dispute. If not resolved the tenant may then file a petition within 45 calendar days from the date of this notice or within 15 calendar days following the effective day of the increase, whichever is later. There may be other tenants from your complex receiving a similar rent increase, in which case, the petitions will be combined. For more information you should contact the City’s designated Agent at ____________/____________/____________(telephone number of the City’s designated Agent). Petitioning for conciliation cannot guarantee a reduction in the rent increase.

Delivery of notice:

The landlord must provide the required notices to the tenant in one of the following ways:

  • Delivered to the tenant in person; or
  • Sending the notices or information by first class United States mail, postage prepaid, addressed to tenant at the tenant’s address.

Tenant’s right to mediation, conciliation and other services

Under Chapter 6.09, tenants are entitled to request information, conciliation, mediation and other services from the city of Campbell if a landlord tries to raise the rent, if the tenant suffers a reduction in housing services, or if the landlord tries to evict the tenant for retaliatory reasons.  Each issue is explained in detail below.

Tenants must make a reasonable effort to resolve the problem directly with the landlord or building manager before seeking arbitration services.  If the tenant is unable to contact the landlord, or the problem continues after the tenant contacts the landlord, then the tenant may file a petition for conciliation services.  The petition’s requirements vary depending on the specific issue it is based upon.  The requirements for their respective petitions are explained in detail below.

It is very important to note that the conciliation and mediation processes required by Campbell’s ordinance are not binding unless the tenant and landlord agree in writing to make them binding.   This means that although the landlord is required to participate in mediation and conciliation, he or she is not required to follow the city’s recommendations about the resolution of the issues unless he agrees to do so.

Keep in mind that if the landlord refuses to adhere to the mediator’s recommendations, the tenant may have legal remedies outside of the city’s arbitration proceedings.  The landlord may be liable for civil or criminal penalties under California law, and the tenant may file a civil lawsuit for any damages arising from the violation of the rental agreement or California law.  See Rights During Tenancy:  General California Provisions for more information.

Petition requirements:  Rent increases

Important!  In order to file a petition for assistance regarding a rent increase, the tenant must be current in his or her rent payment.  Additionally, the petition must contain the following:

  • A written statement of the tenant, indicating the rental rates before and after the increase;
  • The number of the total units in the complex;
  • The date of the current and previous increase;
  • The name and address of the property manager;
  • Signature and unit number of petitioning tenant.

Time requirement:  The petition must be filed no later than 45 days after the date of the notice of the rent increase, or 15 calendar days from the effective date of the notice, whichever is later.  If the tenant has not received lawful notice of rent increase, then the tenant may file the petition until six months after the rent increase is imposed.  The tenant may raise in evidence, during mediation, any and all rental increases that occurred within one year of the effective date of the currently proposed increase.

Petition requirements:  Reduction in housing services

Even if the rent amount does not increase, if the conditions of the apartment are unsafe or unfit to live in (uninhabitable), or if a tenant loses a service or amenity that was originally included in the tenancy and there is no corresponding reduction in rent, that constitutes an impermissible rental increase. Examples include  inoperable heaters, a lack of hot water, bed bug, cockroach or rodent infestations, inoperable plumbing, or even a loss of significant recreational services (like an existing swimming pool), or loss of parking if parking was included in the rental agreement. Petitions related to a reduction in housing services must contain:

  • A description of the service reduction;
  • Any documentation of requests for repairs or complaints made to the landlord, as well as the landlord’s response;
  • The landlord’s name and address;
  • The tenant’s signature and unit number.

Arbitration process

Conciliation

Once a petition has been filed, the city may provide conciliation services to the parties.  Conciliation is limited intervention by letters, telephone and/or personal contact in order to reach an agreement.  If the landlord and tenant do not reach an agreement within 15 calendar days of the filing of the petition, the case is assigned to a mediator.

Mandatory mediation

Once the case is assigned to a mediator, it will be heard within 21 calendar days. The landlord and tenant are both entitled to have written notice of the mandatory mediation ten days before the date of the mediation, unless the parties agree to waive the notice requirement.  Both the tenant and landlord (or their agents) are required to attend the hearing.  Each party is entitled to reschedule the mediation date one time, but only to a date within one week of the original mediation date.   The parties can extend the time if all parties agree to do so in writing.

Attendance is mandatory

If the person who filed the petition does not attend the mediation, the mediator may dismiss the petition.  If the landlord does not attend and the mediation is related to a rental increase, the rental increase will be unenforceable until the landlord schedules and appears at the mediation.

What to expect in mediation

The mediation is conducted by a mediator, a neutral third party who will speak with the landlord and the tenant(s) in order to understand all of their positions on all of the issues.  Both parties must explain their side of the situation to the mediator, and provide information and proof of any facts they assert if the mediator requests such proof.  The parties may give the mediator documents, testimony, written declarations, or other evidence, like pictures of apartment conditions, to prove their version of the facts.   Additionally, the city council may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of a witness for evidence or testimony for the mediation.  If a subpoenaed witness neglects or refuses to obey a subpoena, or, appearing, refuses to testify or answer questions, the witness may be held in contempt and face civil penalties or fines.

The mediator may request that the parties submit a written statement of reasons in             support of the parties’ positions. The parties must provide the written statement to the       mediator if the mediator requests it.

If the petition is related to a rent increase and the landlord fails to comply with a request   for a written statement, the rent increase will be unenforceable until the landlord submits the written statement.

If the parties reach an agreement during the mediation, the mediator will put the    agreement in writing and the both parties have to abide by the terms of the mediation     agreement. An agreement only applies to those tenants who sign a petition and either   appear at a mediation conference or, in writing, designate a spokesperson to act in the       individual’s behalf.

If the parties do not reach an agreement during the mediation, or either party has breached the agreement reached during mediation, then the other party may request a review by a fact finding committee.  A review by the fact finding committee is only available if the matter is related to a rent increase or a reduction in housing services.  There is no fact finding committee review for matters relating to retaliatory evictions.  The request must be filed with the city within 21 calendar days of the mediation conference on a form provided by the city.

Fact finding committee

The fact finding committee will conduct a hearing within 21 calendar days of the filing of a request for fact finding by either party.  Each party is entitled to notice of the fact finding committee hearing at least ten calendar days before the hearing.

Fact finding hearing

Both parties (or their agents) must attend the hearing.  If either party fails to attend the hearing after proper notice, the committee can decide to proceed in the party’s absence.  The committee will request information and proof of the facts once again.  Again, the parties may present evidence of the facts including pictures, testimony and written declarations.

The committee will consider the facts, and also certain guidelines established by the city in order to determine whether the rent increase or reduction in housing services are reasonable under the circumstances. Factors considered by the committee include:

  • Increase or decrease in cost of capital improvements;
  • Increase or decrease in costs of maintenance and operation;
  • Increase or decrease in costs of debt service;
  • Increase or decrease in costs of rehabilitation;
  • Increase or decrease in the provision of housing services;
  • Existing market value of rents for similar units that are similarly situated;
  • Return to property owner.

Based on the evidence presented at the hearing and the guidelines above, the fact finding committee makes a written determination whether the proposed rent increase is reasonable. If a written mediation agreement was executed by the parties, the committee shall also render a determination whether that agreement has been breached.

The committee will mail their findings to both the tenants and the landlord within ten calendar days of the close of the hearing. The determination of the committee is not binding unless agreed to by both parties.

Important!  Remember that the result of the mediation is not binding on either party unless the parties agree that it is binding.  The tenant should consider all of the legal options before agreeing to be bound by the mediation agreement, especially regarding unsafe or uninhabitable living conditions constituting a reduction in housing services, which are prohibited under California law.  Once the parties agree to be bound by its terms, the tenant may lose the right to sue for damages or apartment conditions.  For a full explanation of tenant’s rights under California law, see Rights During Tenancy:  General California Provisions.

It is illegal for landlords to retaliate against tenants for the tenants’ assertion of their rights.

If the tenant is current on his or her rent and is issued an eviction notice within 180 calendar days of filing a rent increase or reduction in services petition, he or she may file a written petition for conciliation and mediation regarding the retaliatory actions of the landlord.  The petition must include:

  • The effective date of the eviction;
  • The landlord’s name and address;
  • The reason given for the eviction, if any;
  • The tenant’s signature and unit number.

Time requirement:  The petition must be filed no later than 45 days after the date of the notice to quit, or 15 calendar days from the effective date of the notice to quit, whichever is later.  If the tenant has not received lawful notice of eviction, then the tenant may file the petition until six months after the eviction is imposed.

There are severe penalties for landlords who attempt to evict tenants for retaliatory reasons.  The landlord may be subject to civil fines ($100 for the first violation, $200 for second violation within one year, $500 for third violation within one year), and four violations in one year may constitute a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.

If you have additional questions regarding your Campbell tenant rights or the Campbell lease laws pertaining to rent controlled properties, please contact a Tenant Hub team member.

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