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Posted on: April 24, 2023

Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance FAQ and Information

Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance

Read Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance and staff report online. Please note that minor modifications to the Ordinance will be made before it takes effect on April 28, 2023, which were approved by City Council on March 28, 2023.

Click Here to Watch the City Council discussion on March 28, 2023


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance?

The City of Ojai’s Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance can be found in Title 11 of the Ojai City Code. It is split into two chapters as follows:

  • Chapter 1, Rent Stabilization Ordinance, limits rent increases above the allowable limit of 4%, and no more than once in any 12-month period to non-exempt properties.
  • Chapter 2, Just Cause Evictions and Tenant Protections limits the grounds for eviction for most tenancies in the City after a tenant has been in place for at least 30 days. If a tenant is evicted for a no-fault reason, the landlord is required to give the displaced tenant financial assistance to move in the amount equal to two months rent or $5,000, whichever is greater.

Who does the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance apply to?

Generally speaking, Chapter 1 of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance applies to all multifamily residential properties that were issued their first certificate of occupancy before February 1, 1995, unless a specific exemption applies. Examples of the types of properties that are exempt from the ordinance include:

  • Most single-family homes or condominiums
  • Accessory dwelling units
  • Duplexes in which one of the two units is occupied by the owner
  • Dwelling units expressly exempt from rent control per state or federal law
  • Government-subsidized dwelling units
  • Institutional properties like dormitories, hospitals, convents, and group homes
  • Hotels, boarding houses, or other types of properties used for transient occupancy

The above list is not exhaustive, and the full list of exemptions can be found in the ordinance in Section 11-1.08 – Exemptions.

Examples of types of properties that are exempt from Chapter 2 Just Cause Evictions and Tenant Protections Chapter include:

  • Hotels, boarding houses, or other types of properties used for transient occupancy
  • Institutional properties like dormitories, hospitals, convents, and group homes
  • Housing accommodations in which the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the landlord who maintains their principal residence at the unit
  • Single-family owner-occupied residences, including a residence in which the owner-occupant rents or leases no more than two units or bedrooms, including, but not limited to, an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit
  • Duplexes in which one of the two units is occupied by the owner as the principal place of residence
  • Residential real property occupied by the Landlord, or their spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents for at least six months before a fixed-length tenancy of up to six months, and for which the Landlord, or their spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents have a good faith intent to reoccupy the unit after conclusion of the tenancy, as affirmed by the Landlord in a written affidavit submitted to the City.

The above list is not exhaustive, and the full list of exemptions can be found in the ordinance in Section 11-2.08 – Exemptions.

Is the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protections Ordinance the same as the state law, AB 1482?

No; although the two laws are in some ways similar, they are not the same, and the state law does not apply to properties that are subject to the ordinance. That is because state law applies only to units that are not covered by a local rent stabilization ordinance that provides for a greater rent limitation than the state law does. AB 1482 limits annual rent increases to between 5% and 10% annually; the Rent Stabilization Ordinance limits annual rent increases to 4% annually. Because local law limits rent increases more strictly, AB 1482 does not apply.

The Just Cause chapter also provides greater protections than AB 1482. State law protections apply only after a tenancy has been in existence for 12 months, whereas the local ordinance applies to tenancies after 30 days, and provides greater relocation assistance for no-fault evictions.

What is considered rent for the purposes of the ordinance?

Rent is defined as all periodic payments and all nonmonetary consideration, including, but not limited to, the fair market value of goods or services rendered to or for the benefit of the Landlord under an agreement concerning the use or occupancy of residential real property, including, but not limited to, all payment and consideration demanded or paid for parking, pets, furniture, and subletting.

Can a landlord raise rents by more than 4%?

Landlords can apply to the Community Development Director for an increase above 4% if the landlord contends than the limitations on rent increases will prevent them from receive a fair and reasonable return. A landlord must notify tenants if they are applying to increase rent above the allowable 4%.

Are landlords required to decrease rents?

No. Landlords are only required to comply with the 4% annual rent increase cap. The City does not have the authority to require landlords to decrease the amount of rent they charge tenants.

Do all rent increases need to be approved by the City?

No. Annual allowable rent increases and rents set for new tenancies for vacant units do not require approval by the City.

Can a landlord increase the rent to market rate or higher following a vacancy?

Yes. An owner may set the initial rent for new tenancies after a unit has been vacated. The City does not have the authority to impose rent control, which is the ability to limit the initial rent of vacant units.

What are the grounds on which a tenant may be evicted under the ordinance?

If the rental unit is subject to the Just Cause and Tenant Protections Chapter, tenants can only be evicted for ‘just cause” reasons, which are broken into two categories: At-fault and No-fault. If a tenant is evicted for a no-fault reason, the landlord is required to give the displaced tenant financial assistance to move in the amount equal to two months rent or $5,000, whichever is greater.

At-fault: Landlords may evict a tenant for the following “for cause” or “at-fault” reasons:

  • Default in the payment of rent
  • Creating waste or nuisance, or using unit for illegal purposes
  • Failure to sign a substantially similar lease
  • Assign or sublet in violation of lease agreement
  • Refuse reasonable access to landlord for necessary repairs after notice
  • Failure to vacate after termination of employment
  • Failure to move out after providing landlord notice of intent to terminate

No-fault: Landlords may evict a tenant for the following “no-fault” reasons:

  • Good faith intent to occupy the rental unit as a primary place of residence by the landlord or the landlord’s spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents
  • Withdrawal of the residential unit from the rental market subject to the provisions of the Ellis Act
  • To comply with a government order
  • Intent to demolish or substantially remodel the rental unit

Do landlords need to notify tenants before they initiate eviction proceedings?

Yes. Landlords must give tenants a notice of their alleged violations and give the tenant an opportunity to cure the alleged violation. The notice must inform the tenant of the alleged violation, that if they do not cure the alleged violation they may be evicted, and the City’s contact number.

Does the ordinance give owners grounds to evict that they did not previously have?

No, the ordinance does not expand the grounds on which a tenant may be evicted.

Does the ordinance relieve tenants of the obligation to comply with an existing lease?

No, it does not, except to the extent that a lease provision conflicts with a provision of the ordinance by, for example, requiring a tenant to waive the ordinance’s protections.

 Does the ordinance require owners to perform particular maintenance, or provide a reduction in rent if maintenance is not performed?

No, it does not. There are various state and local laws that require owners to maintain residential rental property in a safe and habitable condition, and the Rent Stabilization Ordinance does not duplicate them. Nor does the law authorize a reduction in rent for units that are not properly maintained. The ordinance does, however, forbid owners to impose any rent increase with respect to a unit that is in violation of certain health and safety standards, or as to which an owner has not performed repairs required by a government agency or a court.

Are landlords required to pay a fee for rental units subject the Rent Stabilization and Just Cause Tenant Protection Ordinance?

Yes. Once established by City Council, landlords will be required to pay a rent stabilization and/or tenant protection program fee to offset the costs of implementing the ordinance, as established by City Council Resolution.

What if a landlord or tenant has violated the ordinance?

You may contact the Community Development Department and present them with evidence of a violation. If the evidence supports it, the City may begin issuing citations for the violations, however, the City’s enforcement may be limited to the citation process. If the City’s citation process is not effective, the ordinance allows tenants to file suit on their own.

The ordinance includes a civil remedies/attorney’s fee provision, in which any tenant aggrieved by a violation of the ordinance may bring a civil suit in an appropriate State or federal court. This gives the tenant the ability to recover damages. The City gives the tenant that ability but will not be involved in that process, will not represent tenants, or provide advice on individual circumstances. If a tenant successfully files suit, a landlord found to be in violation shall be liable to the aggrieved tenant for damages and for the tenant’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Before commencing a civil suit, the tenant shall provide at least (30) days’ notice and a demand that the person or company alleged to have committed a violation of this chapter correct, repair, replace, or otherwise rectify the alleged violations.

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