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Does Contra Costa County Have Rent Control

Rent control is a program put in place by the government to prevent landlords from charging too much for leasing a home. The aim is to ensure living is affordable for residents on all incomes. But does Contra Costa County have rent control? Read on to find out.

Young couple of renters wondering if Contra Costa County has rent control
Renée White

May 17, 2023
Table of content

    Is There Rent Control In Contra Costa County?

    For a long time, Contra Costa County did not have any rent control policies. But, in 2016, Richmond passed the Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction and Homeowner Protection Ordinance. This introduced the first rent control laws in Contra Costa. But it does not apply to the entire county.

    It is a far-reaching measure that covers rent control as well as other important tenant protections. For example, it includes controls around just cause eviction, forcing landlords to pay more for imposing no-fault evictions. 9,000 urban units are fully covered by this law, and it partially covers another 10,000. California law prohibits rent control in single-family houses, but the eviction controls do apply to single-family condos and units. Contra Costa is subject to rent control legislation for the state of California.

    What Is Rent Control?

    Rent control is a system of law aimed at ensuring the affordability of rented dwellings for tenants. These laws are administered by courts or public authorities. Generally speaking, rent control covers:

    • Price controls on the rent a landlord can charge
    • Eviction controls to establish rules around terminating tenancies
    • Obligations of landlords and tenants for maintaining a property
    • A system to oversee the enforcement of these regulations

    Other things covered by rent control include limiting the amount that rent can increase during a tenancy.

    So does Contra Costa County have rent control? Yes it does, up to a point. California law restricts permitted annual rent increases to 5% plus a local cost-of-living-adjustment that cannot exceed 5%. The laws also state that landlords can only evict tenants if specific legal criteria are met. Eviction protections are quite extensive, and there are various resources for both tenants and landlords to help with the regulations. The city of Richmond has its own legislation to protect tenants.

    As a county, Contra Costa has resisted the imposing of wholesale rent control laws. This allows more freedom for landlords while everyone remains focused on providing high-quality, affordable housing for all. That being said, there are California regulations that govern rent control in the county.

    The aforementioned rent cap of 5% per year plus inflation means rent increases can never exceed 10%. AB 1482 offers protections against unfair eviction by laying out a list of valid reasons for eviction. They are as follows:

    1. Non-payment of rent
    2. Violations of the lease
    3. Causing a nuisance
    4. Damage to the property that diminishes its value
    5. Refusal to sign a lease renewal
    6. Criminal activity on the residence or criminal threats towards the landlord
    7. Subletting when not permitted
    8. Refusing to allow entry to the landlord when they have a valid reason
    9. Failure to vacate employer-provided housing when employment terminates
    10. Failure to leave in the promised timeframe

    No-fault evictions are still possible, but the landlord will have to pay the tenant relocation assistance. This equates to one month’s rent. These laws apply to most units built before 2004. But please note the exemptions for single-family homes not owned by corporations. Duplexes where the landlord lives on-site are also exempt.

    Cities In Contra Costa County With Rent Control

    All of Contra Costa County is subject to the rent and eviction regulations for the state of California. But the only city in Contra Costa County to have actual rent control laws is Richmond. This program is aimed at promoting community and neighborhood stability, healthy housing and affordability for Richmond tenants.

    As we have mentioned before, the rent control in Richmond is based upon the approval of the Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction and Homeowner Protection Ordinance. It is an extension of the California state regulations for rent and evictions, and it is a very extensive document. Beyond that, cities in Contra Costa are required to adhere to the state-wide laws just like everyone else in California.

    How To Determine If Your Apartment Has Rent Control In Contra Costa County?

    If you live in Richmond city in Contra Costa County, the laws of that city will apply to you. However, there are some exemptions as dictated by California state law. If you live anywhere in the county outside of Richmond, it is only the state regulations that apply to you. However, with the exemptions to both rent caps and eviction protections, it can be difficult to know where you stand.

    It can be somewhat confusing to know exactly which laws apply to you, but it’s important to educate yourself.

    The steps to take to find out if an apartment is covered by rent control in Contra Costa County

    We linked to a page earlier in this article that contains resources for tenants and landlords in Contra Costa. The link is under the ‘What Is Rent Control?’ heading and it contains information about various places you could go for advice. If you need free legal services to help you understand your rights and protections, you may find some answers there.

    If you are uncertain about what rent control laws might apply to you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can help you determine where you would stand if you moved anywhere in Contra Costa.

    Exemptions From Rent Control In Contra Costa County

    The rent control measures that apply to Contra Costa are the same as the base regulations for the state of California. Under that legislation, there are a number of exemptions that you need to be aware of.

    Exceptions to rent caps are as follows:

    • Housing restricted by deed or other recorded document
    • School dormitories
    • Housing subject to more restrictive local rent controls (like those in Richmond)
    • Housing where a certificate of occupancy was delivered after 2004
    • Properties like single-family residences, condos or townhouses
    • Properties owned by corporations
    • Cases where the tenant has received written notice that the property is exempt
    • Owner-occupied duplexes

    If you believe any of these might apply to you, it would be wise to seek advice to know where you stand. Not knowing your rights can leave you unprepared if something goes wrong. Get yourself informed ahead of time so that you are ready in the event that your landlord attempts to change or terminate your tenancy.

    Rent Increase Limits In Contra Costa County

    We have mentioned the rent increase limits in Contra Costa County. They are the same as the state-wide limits. This means no more than a 5% increase year-on-year, with a further 5% permitted to adjust for inflation or changes to cost of living.

    Generally speaking, landlords raise rent in line with their own increasing costs relating to the property.

    These costs can include:

    • Insurance
    • Taxes
    • Interest rates on a mortgage

    All these things can cause a landlord to have to pay more for ownership of the property. If this happens, they may pass some of that cost increase on to the tenant within permitted parameters.

    The Pros And Cons Of Rent Control

    In principle, rent control is about keeping rent prices low and protecting tenants against unscrupulous landlords. It can enable lower income tenants to have access to more homes. It can also reduce the rate at which people get priced out of their current homes if an area increases in popularity.

    In practice, there can be downsides to rent control. The pros look like this:

    • Financial savings for tenants thanks to caps on the amount rent can be increased
    • Greater likelihood of lease renewal, reducing tenant turnover

    The potential cons of rent control are as follows:

    • Landlords have little incentive to upgrade homes
    • Prices often fall below market rents over time
    • Rent controls don’t usually apply to newer properties
    • Rent control can discourage the building of new homes

    This is why there is often a great deal of debate around rent control. Some believe it is important to help people. Others believe it restricts growth and that other options are more effective.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does Contra Costa County Have Rent Control?

    The regulations for the state of California apply to Contra Costa. However, the only city in the county that has imposed more stringent rent control laws is Richmond.

    How To Determine If Your Apartment Has Rent Control In Contra Costa County?

    It is best to get professional advice. Read this article to find a link to a page that includes contact details for free legal advice. Alternatively, contact us and we will endeavor to answer your questions.

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