Berkeley City Laws, Ordinances & Departments
More information on City of Berkeley housing laws & departments
It is illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on their source of income. When advertising a unit or responding to a request for eligibility from a prospective tenant, you may not state that you do not take Section 8 (or other subsidized housing vouchers). [Adopted July 25, 2017].
Most properties (except for single-family homes and duplexes) are subject to a tax. If you own more than five rental units in Berkeley (even if they include single-family homes or duplexes), you are subject to a higher tax than those who own a triplex or fourplex. Learn more at the city's website or view our Berkeley Business License Tax Worksheet.
A state law ushered in rent control exemptions for single-family homes, townhomes, and condos and exemptions on new construction residential rental units that have received a Certificate of Occupancy. This law was later modified by AB 1482 (the Tenant Protection Act of 2019) regarding new construction exemptions.
Properties with three or more units are required to inspect all elevated elements on the property (balconies, decks, staircases) every five years and submit a work certification to the city. The next certification date will be in 2027. Read more about the program here. Directory of licensed professionals (click here). [Adopted 2015].
Owners of specific rental units are not permitted to ask about a prospective tenant's criminal background or use any criminal background information in making a decision to rent to a prospective tenant. See our Forms for Preparing to Rent Unit for proper notices. [Adopted March 31, 2020].
Vacant units are subject to a $3,000-$6,000 annual "vacancy tax." Exemptions to the law include units that are "unoccupied, uninhabited, or unused, for fewer than 182 days, whether consecutive or nonconsecutive, in a calendar year." Adopted November 8, 2022. It will go into effect on January 1, 2024.
Single-family homes and some ADUs and duplexes (but not Golden Duplexes) must register their first tenancy and pay an annual registration fee to the Rent Stabilization Board. Learn more at the Rent Board's website. [Adopted November 6, 2020].
Units that have been created through conversion or substantial rehabilitation that lack a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the City of Berkeley's Building Department may still be subject to rent control. New construction exemptions are defined in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Act of 1996, limiting a city's ability to place rent control on certain units. The important distinction and definition of new construction in Berkeley is that the unit must be built "from the ground up," meaning it cannot have been crafted from any preexisting structure on the parcel.
A public database of units registered with the Rent Board. Also, a portal for owners to pay invoices and update tenancies. You do not need to have an account to view an address. Type an address in the search field next to the yellow box that says "find."
All rental units in Berkeley (with the exception of Golden Duplexes, rented rooms in which the owner shares a kitchen and/or a bathroom and select ADUs) are subject to paying an annual fee with the Rent Board. For fully covered units (where the unit is rent-controlled and the tenant has eviction protections), the July 1, 2023 fee is $290, and for partially covered units (where tenants have eviction protections but it is not rent-controlled) is $178.
The Rent Stabilization & Just Cause Ordinance. What started it all, and what remains primary legislation for rental registration, rent control, and Just Cause for Eviction protections. [Primary adoption in 1980].
The Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP) requires all rental housing providers to inspect their units annually using the RHSP Checklist (formerly called Schedule A) and by giving a copy to the tenant. You may be asked to produce the document should a Rental Housing Safety Inspector come to inspect your unit. You are NOT required to file this with the RHSP unless the tenant refuses entry to the unit. This is required for all unit and room lets, regardless of whether you are subject to rent control and/or eviction protections. Learn more about the program and the required annual fee.
Owners/Property Managers must pay interest on tenant security deposit funds for all units in Berkeley annually (by December 31) and upon the termination of the tenancy. This includes any deposit that is considered "last month's rent." To calculate the security deposit interest owed to your tenant, click here.
Most rental units are prohibited from doing rentals of fewer than 14 days at a time. Anything 14 days and above falls under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Owners of single-family homes may only do short-term rentals for up to 90 days a year. [Adopted February 28, 2017].
Also known as a "Cash for Keys" agreement, tenant buyouts are a way to regain possession of a unit by offering the tenant cash to vacate. [Adopted April 30, 2016].
Exempts single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and new construction from rent control. Subsequent law AB 1482 (Tenant Protection Act of 2019) modified the new construction exemption to the first 15 years after issuing a Certificate of Occupancy. [Costa-Hawkins effective January 1, 1996. AB 1482 adopted October 8, 2019].
Requirements for relocating tenants as a result of Code Enforcement Activities or Voluntary Code Compliance. Learn more about the program. [Adopted December 15, 2011].
Although you are only required to provide the notice of the Tenant Protection Ordinance to any new tenancy, this is the Tenant Protection Ordinance in its entirety. [Adopted March 28, 2017].
Prohibition of lease break fees for all tenancies in Berkeley and the requirement to notify prospective tenants of the Tenant Screening Fee Rights Statement. [Adopted July 2020].
Smoking is prohibited in any property except single-family homes. All leases after May 1, 2014, must contain the anti-smoking ordinance clause. (found in the BPOA lease). [Adopted December 20, 2013].
California Civil Code 1946. Termination of Month-to-Month Tenancy. Outlines noticing requirements, which include that a 30-day notice may be given at any time of the tenancy.
California Civil Code 1942.1. Noticing Requirements. Dictates when notices of 30 days or 60 days are permitted.
California Civil Code 1951.2 - Early Lease Termination. Dictates owners' rights when a lease is terminated prior to the expiration of the term.
California Civil Code 1946.7 - Early Lease Termination for Domestic Abuse Survivors. Dictates residents' rights when a lease is to be determined due to domestic abuse.
California Civil Code 1950.5 - Security Deposits. Dictates how security deposits may be used in a tenancy.
Division of Aging and Adult Protection; Adult Protective Services, (510) 577-3500; 24-Hour hotline: (866) 225-5277