Question 1: Are the new Oakland Rent Control laws applicable to a condo that has been rented for the past 8-10 years that we need to sell, or raise the rent on. Where can we find the most up-to-date interpretation of this law as it applies to condo owners who have rented out their condos?
Answer 1: I am not sure what new law you believe changes your situation regarding your condo rental. The November statewide ballot measure (Proposition 10) to repeal what is known as the “Costa Hawkins Law” did not pass. Had that ballot measure passed, the repeal would have affected your condo rental rights by removing the exemption that, in most cases, exempts single family homes and condominiums from rent control. However, as Prop. 10 failed, your condo likely remains exempt from ‘rent’ control.

But your unit likely remains subject to ‘eviction’ control, which was the case before the recent changes to theOaklandrent control laws were changed by ballot measures passed in November. This includes primarily Measure Y, which removed the owner-occupied exemption from the ‘just cause’ requirement otherwise applied to 1-3 unit buildings. However, measure Y did not affect the rent control exemption for such owner-occupied buildings. But please be aware that the exemption from rent control for such buildings requires that the owner occupy one of the three units as his or her principal residences for at least two years.

And it is not completely clear whether the Oakland rent control law requires the owner to submit a petition to the rent board for the exemption prior to serving any rent increases that rely on the exemption, but it is probably the better practice to get the exemption formally issued by the rent board, rather than respond to a tenant petition challenging any such rent increase. TheOaklandrent board can be contacted for the process of submitting an application or petition to confirm the exemption.

As to where to find the most up-to-date laws, this magazine is a good start. Also, checking in with the local rent board’s website for updates is generally recommended. Beyond that, I am not aware of any ‘clearinghouse’ for condo rent laws.

Question 2: I have been informed by neighbors that tenants in my property may be dealing with illegal activities. The informant said cars come into the driveway in the middle of the night. Also, he noticed during the day and strong smell of marijuana. I texted the tenant with the concern and she told me that her husband works for an event planning company and needs to carry totes periodically. What is the legal way to approach this matter and what I would need to provide to neighbors about findings?

Answer 2: If the activities of your tenants rise to the level of a nuisance, legally speaking, you have a duty to take action to cease the nuisance activity. However, from your description, it is hard to see that the activities reported by your neighbors clearly fall into the nuisance category. I am not sure how the tenant’s explanation comports with your neighbor’s reports, and you may need to get a more clear explanation from your tenants, by explaining to them your neighbor’s concerns (without ‘naming names..”), and let the tenant know that you do owe the neighbors a certain level of care as to the tenant’s conduct outside the unit. The request might include an explanation of why there are late-night vehicles, and whether it is the same vehicle or two coming and going. A large number of different cars coming and going would be in indication of drug sales, for example.

If necessary, you could install a camera to keep an eye on the driveway, after notifying the tenants of that development and the reason for it. That does not mean the tenants may not complain, as a camera watching their driveway could be considered an invasion of privacy (that issue remains unclear generally), but perhaps it will also compel them to either cease any nefarious activity, or provide you the explanation for innocent activity that you can share with your neighbors.

Question 3: I have an 8-unit complex of cottages in Clearlake that is served by one water meter. I charge each tenant a flat rate of $30.00 per month for water. I disclose in writing to each tenant that a) there is only one meter to the property and b) on any given period, they might pay for more water than they actually used or they might pay for less water than they actually used.

My question is this: A tenant has asked to see the water bill for the entire property. Do I have a legal obligation to show it to them? Also, is my written disclosure enough to protect me?

Answer 3:  Under your facts, I am not aware of any legal obligation imposed on you to show the water bill to the tenant. As long as you are not ‘gouging’ the tenants by profiting on the water bill, your disclosures are likely adequate. You may charge the tenants the amount of the bill, plus a small administrative fee, but that fee is nominal and probably not worth having to justify should it be challenged. The rules are different if you are ‘submetering’ each unit, but your use of a master meter is not specifically regulated by state law beyond disclosure and profiteering, as discussed above.

Question 4: I have a single family residence (SFR) with three adult tenants who are all named on the original lease. They didn’t pay their rent last month, so I personally served one tenant with a three-day notice. By law, is this sufficient service to proceed with the unlawful detainer (UD)? Is there a statute or case that supports that service on one tenant is sufficient? Or a statute or case that supports the requirement to serve each tenant individually? Thank you in advance.

Answer 4: Service of a three day notice on one named tenant is sufficient service on all tenants who are named in the lease. Proper service of notice to terminate on one cotenant named in the rental agreement is proper service on the other named cotenants. [University ofSouthern Calif. v. Weiss (1962) 208 CA2d 759, 769, 25 CR 475, 480]

Question 5: I manage a rental property with a SFR and a duplex (total of three units) built before 1994.  In regards to SB 407, the new low-flow plumbing fixture law, do each of my units now need to be in compliance?  My research indicates that all SFRs (including SFRs not for rent) should have been in compliance by Jan. 2017!!  Did I misread that?  Also, my duplex is considered a multifamily residence for the purpose of this law, correct?

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=200920100SB407

I have been an AOA member for a handful of years now and really enjoy reading your column in their magazine.  Thanks for your time and consideration.

Answer 5: Apparently you did miss that memo. All residential properties must be in compliance as of Jan. 1, 2019, and SFRs were required to be compliant as of Jan. 1, 2017. Below is the provision from the legislative summary of the applicable bill. And yes, for purposes of this law, anything other than a single family home is multi-family.

The bill would require, on or before January 1, 2017, that all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in any single-family residential real property shall be replaced by the property owner with water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

The bill would require, on or before January 1, 2019, that all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in multifamily residential real property and commercial real property, as defined, be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

And I am glad you enjoy the column and thank you for being a member!

Question 6: Regarding Redwood City’s new ordinance effective 1/1/2019 that new and existing tenants be offered a 12-month lease option vs a month-to-month rental agreement. For existing tenants, can I just write an addendum to the existing rental agreement that the rental agreement is now a 12-month lease effective on (applicable date) versus writing a brand new 12-month lease agreement?

Answer 6: Good question. The ordinance states that the owner must provide the tenant with notice of the tenant’s right to the option to enter into a written, one year lease,  or if the tenant prefers, a term of less than one year. If the tenant is already under a written lease, and the owner is satisfied with it, I believe the owner and tenant can execute (sign) an addendum that states the lease is amended at section (whichever section refers to the original length to the lease) to read as follows:  The term of this lease shall be from x date to y date ( a one year period starting whenever it is signed and dated by both parties, but a date certain to avoid confusion later).

But the offer and the acceptance or rejection of the one year term MUST be in writing, so make sure of that.

The regulations do not apply to a unit which is rented on or before the effective date of the ordinance (January 1, 2019). However, if the unit is rented subject to a written lease and the lease expires, the ordinance shall then apply, or if the unit is rented without a written lease, the landlord shall offer a written lease to the tenant at the time of the lease renewal.

And note that the requirements do not apply to residential projects consisting of two or fewer dwelling units including single-family dwellings, duplexes, and condominiums.

Question 7: How much can I increase the rent on my Oakland rental property (single dwelling home)? What is the percentage? I have not increased the rent in at least five years. Do we have rent control or are we covered under the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act?

Answer 7: Generally, single family homes are not subject to local rent control, though (as mentioned above)  it is best to get a formal exemption issued from the Oakland rent board. As exempt, you would not be subject to local rent control thanks to the Costa Hawkins act.

And any rent increase over 10% requires a minimum 60-day notice. But there are potential issues with any significant rent increase, including the state of emergency that limits rent increases to 10% in most cases. For additional information on that aspect, see  https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/pricegougingduringdisasters).

Question 8: Can I not renew a one year lease when it expires? I would rather not rent to the current tenant in my property located in Oakland. I tried calling the rent control adjustment program but have not heard back from them.

 Answer 8: If the unit is subject to the Oakland eviction control law known as Measure EE or ‘Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance’, then the expiration of the lease only means the tenant continues on under the same terms of the lease, but on a month-to-month basis, for as long as the tenant chooses to live there, unless you have one of the specified ‘just cause’ grounds to terminate the tenancy. While it does not seem it will be helpful in your situation, one of the ‘just cause’ grounds is Section 8.22.360A(3): The tenant, who had an oral or written agreement with the landlord which has terminated, has refused after written request or demand by the landlord to execute a written extension or renewal thereof for a further term of like duration and under such terms which are materially the same as in the previous agreement; provided, that such terms do not conflict with any of the provisions of this chapter. [O.M.C. Chapter 8.22, Article II].

So, that section gives you the option to compel the tenant to renew her lease for a similar period on the same terms (with a rent increase if otherwise allowed). Otherwise, she simply goes ‘month to month.’