Town Hall offices will be closed Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.

Renters and Landlords frequently asked questions

Legal Aid of Marin is preparing frequently asked questions and answers. Additional questions and answers are underway and will be provided as soon as they are ready.

Rent Stabilization FAQ's for Tenants

The ordinance limits rent increases and stops landlords from decreasing housing services.

Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance will limit rent increases to once a year. Annual rent increases will be capped at 60% of the annual percentage increase to the April, 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) and 75% of the annual percentage increase to the April, 2024 and every year thereafter, Consumer Price Index (CPI), or 5%, whichever is less.

The maximum annual rent increase for the period September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024 is 60% of the April, 2023 CPI, which was 4.2% making the maximum annual rent increase for this time period 2.52%.

Once implemented, the ordinance will allow tenants to file petitions with the town when landlords increase their rent above the limit or there are decreases in “Housing Services.” For example, a tenant could file a petition if a landlord raised the price of parking or utilities over that which is allowed under the rental agreement and maximum rent increase. A tenant could also file a petition if the landlord stopped providing services such as pool or laundry access if promised under the rental agreement, or if the landlord failed to make repairs or allowed the building to fall into disrepair in violation of law or the rental agreement.

Fairfax’s ordinance will cover many residents. However, there are several exclusions from the law. If you rent a unit that falls into one of the following categories, Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance does NOT protect your tenancy:

  1. Single-family homes (where only one rental unit exists on the property)
  2. Condominiums
  3. Properties built after February 1, 1995
  4. Dorm rooms
  5. Mobile homes in mobile home parks
  6. Hotel rooms, if you stayed in the room for less than thirty days
  7. Hospitals, medical facilities, and other facilities where people receive care
  8. Rental units which a government agency or authority fully owns, operates and manages
  9. Units where the rent is limited by a legally binding restriction that restricts rent to no more than affordable rent.

December 2, 2022 and revisions were effective on October 6, 2023. The first maximum rent increase provision went into effect on September 1, 2023. The next rent increase will go into effect on September 1, 2024. The provisions related to petitions, hearings and rental housing fee collection will not be implemented until the Town enters into agreements for implementation support such as for staffing, hearing officers and software and the Council adopts a Resolution setting an implementation date.

The maximum annual rent increase is called the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). Under the ordinance, the AGA is set at 60% of the annual percentage increase to the April, 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region for the period from September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024. The AGA can never go above 5%.

In most cases, the AGA will be lower than 5%. The April, 2023 CPI increase was 4.2%. Sixty percent of 4.2% is 2.52%. Therefore the AGA for the time period from September 1, 2023 to and through August 31, 2024 is 2.52%.

By June 30th of each year, the maximum allowable rent increase will be recalculated based on the change in CPI over the last 12 months, calculated using April’s CPI figure. Landlords are allowed to increase rents one time between September of that year and September of the following year.

If you are calculating rent prior to October 6, 2023 and to be effective after September 1, 2023:

Example

If you were paying $2,000 in March of 2022, your Landlord could increase your rent by an amount calculated as follows:

($2,000) + ($2,000 x .0252) = new rent
$2,000 + $50.40 = $2,050.40
$2,050.40 = new rent amount

$2,050.40 would be your new legal rent, even if, at one point, your rent was higher than this amount

You do not lose your rollback rights. Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance provides that a tenant cannot waive any part of the law by signing a contract. Even if you signed a new lease, you should use the new rent calculation method above.

You can assert your rights.

Send your landlord a letter or email explaining that Fairfax passed a Rent Stabilization ordinance. You can include a link to these FAQs. If your landlord continues to refuse to recalculate your rent, contact Legal Aid of Marin at (415) 492-0230.

Once the Rent Stabilization Ordinance is fully implemented, you’ll be able to file a petition with the Town of Fairfax. Monitor the town’s website for more information.

Some landlords may serve illegal three-day notices. If you receive a three-day notice, you should again inform your landlord in writing of the rollback. If you receive an unlawful detainer lawsuit, you cannot ignore the lawsuit, even if the landlord’s actions are illegal. You must respond to the lawsuit within five days. Call Legal Aid of Marin immediately if you receive court papers.

Legal Aid of Marin: (415) 492-0230

Just Cause FAQ's for Tenants

Fairfax’s Just Cause Evictions Ordinance protects you from arbitrary eviction. In order to be evicted from your rental unit, your landlord must have a just cause.

If you are evicted for a “no-fault” just cause, you are entitled to relocation payments and you may have the right to return to your unit under certain circumstances, if that unit ever again becomes available for rent.

If you or a tenant in your household is a student or teacher, a child, elderly, disabled, or terminally-ill you may qualify for additional protections under the ordinance.

The original ordinance went into effect on 12/2/22. The ordinance has been revised and the revisions went into effect on 10/6/23.

Fairfax’s ordinance will cover most tenants. However, there are several exclusions from the law. If your rental unit falls into one of the following categories, Fairfax’s Just Cause Evictions Ordinance does not protect your tenancy:

  1. Dorm rooms
  2. Mobile homes in mobile home parks
  3. Hotel rooms and short-term rentals, if you stayed in the unit for less than 30 days
  4. Hospitals, medical facilities, non-profit senior homes, and other facilities where people receive care
  5. Rental units where a government agency or authority fully owns, operates and manages
  6. Units where the rent is limited by a legally binding restriction that restricts rent to no more than affordable rent (example: Program-based section 8 complex)
  7. Single room in an owner-occupied single family home (a lodger’s room)
  8. JADU in an owner-occupied dwelling unit
  9. ADU attached to an owner-occupied dwelling unit

Your landlord may still legally evict you for the following just causes:

  1. Failure to pay rent
  2. Breach of lease, but see below for sublessee exceptions
  3. Creating a nuisance or damaging the unit
  4. Conviction of serious crime that occurred during tenancy and within 1,000 ft. of the unit
  5. Threatening commission of a violent crime to anyone on the property
  6. Damaging or trespassing on the property of another tenant or landlord
  7. Repeatedly refusing to give your landlord access to the unit to conduct necessary repairs or show unit to prospective purchasers after the landlord has given you notice of intended access
  8. Owner must make substantial repairs (may only justify temporary displacement)
  9. Owner or the owner’s family member moves into the unit
  10. Owner permanently withdraws unit from the rental market
  11. Failure to vacate after a written buy-out agreement between you and your landlord
  12. Termination of a temporary tenancy (a tenancy of less than 12 months) in order for owner to move in

Short-Term Relocation Payments

If you are temporarily displaced for 30 days or less due to the need for repairs or renovation work (Example: termite tenting), your landlord is required to immediately provide the short-term relocation payments in the amount of $190 for each day of displacement. If you accept these short-term relocation payments, you must continue to pay rent. Alternatively, you may forgo short-term relocation payments and stop paying rent for the duration of your displacement. NOTE: A landlord is not required to pay this amount if the repairs are due to a natural disaster, unless the landlord failed to maintain unit/property prior to the natural disaster so as to prevent the need for repairs (ex. Leaking roof fails during heavy rains).

A landlord can evict you if the repairs are such that it would require you to vacate your unit for more than 30 days. However, your landlord must meet certain requirements. The repairs must be necessary to address certain health and safety violations and your landlord must acquire permits before you are served with a notice of eviction.

If you are evicted for substantial repairs, you are entitled to relocation payments in the amount of two months’ rent. If you are—or a member of your household is—a senior (65 years or older), a person with a disability, have a terminal illness, or have minor children in the household, you are entitled to an additional one month’s rent (3 months’ rent total).

Your landlord cannot pursue an eviction for substantial repairs if your landlord owns another vacant unit within the town of Fairfax that you can temporarily reside in until the repairs are complete. Your landlord also cannot pursue an eviction against you if the repairs can be

completed within 60 days and you do not agree in writing to vacate the unit while repairs are being made.

Finally, if you are evicted for substantial repairs, you do have the right to return when the repairs are complete if the unit is returned to the rental market within 3 years. If you choose to return to the unit, your landlord must offer the same terms and rent at the time of your eviction, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance. It is your responsibility to ensure your landlord has your current contact information.

Under the ordinance, a tenant may be evicted if their landlord—or their landlord’s family member or caregiver —seeks, in good faith, to occupy the unit as their primary residence. This is referred to as an “Owner Move-In.”

Your landlord can not pursue an eviction for an Owner Move-In if any of the following are true:

  • Your landlord or a landlord’s family member already occupies a unit on the property unless the landlord can show good cause
  • There is another vacant unit on the property
  • There is another comparable unit on the property occupied by a tenant who moved onto the property more recently.
  • If you have resided on the property for more than three years and are 65 years or older, disabled, or terminally ill UNLESS your landlord’s intended occupant is also disabled or terminally ill and there is no other vacant unit on the property.

Right of Return: If you are displaced due to an Owner Move-In and your former rental unit returns to the market within 3 years, you have the right to return to that unit under the same terms as your former tenancy and with the same rent, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance.

Relocation: If you are displaced due to an Owner Move-In, your landlord must provide relocation payments equal to two months’ rent at the time they serve your notice of termination. If you or a member of your household is 65 years of age or older, 17 years of age or younger, disabled, or terminally-ill, then you are entitled to an additional one months’ rent relocation payment (3 months’ rent total).

Under the law, a tenant may be evicted if their landlord seeks to permanently withdraw their rental unit from the rental market (i.e. go out of business) as permitted by the Ellis Act. These are often referred to as “Ellis Act Evictions.”

If you are subject to an Ellis Act Eviction, you are entitled to a minimum of 120 days advance notice from your landlord. If you are 65 years of age or older or disabled, you are entitled to 180 days of advance notice.

If you are subject to an Ellis Act Eviction and your landlord, or a subsequent purchaser of the property, attempts to place the unit, or a newly constructed unit, back on the rental market within two years, they are liable to you as the displaced tenant for triple damages.

Right of Return: If you are displaced due to an Ellis Act Eviction and your former rental unit, or a newly constructed rental unit, returns to the market within 5 years, you have the right to return to that unit under the same terms as your former tenancy and with the same rent, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance. It is your responsibility to ensure your landlord has your current contact information. Your right to return, however, will no longer be available if the landlord transfers the property to a new owner by inheritance.

Lease terms under one year: Your landlord can choose to evict you if your lease term is less than one year and your landlord had previously occupied the unit and wants to return. Your landlord is not required to provide any relocation payments.

Protections for school age children and educators: You cannot be evicted for substantial repairs or owner move-in if you have resided in the unit for more than a year and there are K-12 school-age children under the age of 18 or an employee/contractor of a Marin County school grade 12 or below in the household if the notice of eviction expires during the school year. “Educators” includes any staff or contractors employed by the school (examples: counselors, custodians, etc.).

Written warning requirement: If your landlord believes you are creating a nuisance on the property (example: causing damage to the unit) or refusing to grant the landlord reasonable access to make repairs or show property to potential buyer, they must first give you a letter describing the alleged violation seven days before they serve a notice of eviction for the nuisance or violation. We recommend that you discuss with your landlord, in writing, how to resolve the alleged violation before an eviction notice is served.


Rent Stabilization FAQ's for Landlords

Under the ordinance, the maximum annual rent increase is called the Annual General Adjustment (AGA). The AGA is set at 60% of the percentage increase to the April Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region for the time period of September 1, 2023 to and through August 31, 2024. The AGA can never go above 5% or below 0%.

In most cases, the AGA will be lower than 5%. This year, the regional CPI published in April, 2023 was 4.2%. 60% of 4.2% is 2.52%, therefore, for the time period of September 1, 2023 to and through August 31, 2024 the maximum annual rent increase is 2.52%.

For the calculation effective September 1, 2024, the maximum rent increase is 75% of the March, 2024 CPI. The March, 2024 CPI increase is 3.8%. If you would like to review how the CPI is determined, see here. Seventy-five percent of 3.8% is 2.85%. Therefore the AGA for the time period from September 1, 2024 to and through August 31, 2025 is 2.85%. 

Every landlord has a constitutional right to make a reasonable return on their investment. Once the ordinance is implemented, landlords will be able to file a petition in the event the allowed increase does not provide for a reasonable return on their investment. When the implementation support is in place, the Town Council will adopt a resolution setting an implementation date.

In general, you cannot change housing services without an agreement from the tenant. In the event that you cannot control the reduction in services, then you will have to reduce the rent an amount commensurate with the reduction in services.

Fairfax’s ordinance will cover most residential rental units. However, there are several exclusions from the law. Please see the Applicability Chart on the Town’s website for a list of types of covered and non-covered units.

Yes.

Rent control only applies to a given tenancy. If a tenant moves out, there are no restrictions on how much you can charge in rent for the new tenant.

The ordinance was effective on December 2, 2022. Provisions relating to petitions and rental housing fee collection, however, will not be implemented until the implementation support is in place and the Town Council adopts a resolution setting an implementation date. On October 6, 2023, the recent changes to the ordinance became effective.

Yes, but only to establish a base rent.

For existing tenants, if you wish to raise the rent after October 6, 2023, you will need to roll back the rent to the March, 2022 amount, plus the maximum allowable rent increase for the period beginning September 1, 2023, which is 2.52% (see further details below on how to calculate the new rent).

For new tenants that enter leases beginning on or after October 6, 2023, you may set the initial rental rate at an amount of your choice. However, this rate will become the base rent subject to the ordinance’s annual general adjustment going forward.

Just Cause FAQ's for Landlords

Fairfax’s Just Cause Evictions Ordinance prohibits arbitrary evictions. You may still evict a tenant if you have a just cause.

You may still legally evict a tenant for the following just causes:

  1. Failure to pay rent
  2. Breach of lease, but see below for sublessee exceptions
  3. Creating a nuisance or damaging the unit
  4. Damaging or trespassing upon the property of yours or another tenant
  5. Repeatedly refusing to give you access to the unit to conduct necessary repairs or show unit to prospective purchasers after giving notice of your intent to access the unit
  6. You must make substantial repairs (may only justify temporary displacement)
  7. You, your family member, or a care giver moves into the unit
  8. You permanently withdraw unit from the rental market
  9. Failure to vacate after a written buy-out agreement between you and your tenant
  10. Termination of a temporary tenancy (a tenancy of less than 12 months) in order for you to move in
  11. Your tenant was convicted of a serious crime during the tenancy and within 1,000 feet of the unit
  12. Your tenant made violent threats towards you or another person on the property

The original ordinance went into effect on 12/2/22. The ordinance has been revised and the revisions went into effect on 10/6/23.

Fairfax’s ordinance will cover most tenants. However, there are several exclusions from the law. If your units fall into one of the following categories, Fairfax’s Just Cause Evictions Ordinance does not apply to your tenants:

  1. Dorm rooms
  2. Mobile homes in mobile home parks
  3. Hotel rooms and short-term rentals, if your tenant stayed in the unit for less than 30 days
  4. Hospitals, medical facilities, non-profit senior homes, and other facilities where people receive care
  5. Rental units where a government agency or authority fully owns, operates and manages
  6. Units where the rent is limited by a legally binding restriction that restricts rent to no more than affordable rent (example: Program-based section 8 complex)
  7. A room you rent in your home if you live at the home
  8. JADUs in an owner-occupied dwelling unit
  9. ADUs if they are attached to an owner-occupied dwelling unit

Short-Term Relocation Payments

If your tenant is temporarily displaced for 30 days or less due to the need for repairs or renovation (Example: termite tenting), you are required to immediately provide the short-term relocation payments in the amount of $190 per day that the tenant is relocated. If your tenant accepts these short-term relocation payments, they must continue to pay rent. Alternatively, your tenant may forgo short-term relocation payments and stop paying rent for the duration of their displacement.

You can evict your tenant if the repairs are such that it would require your tenant to vacate their unit for more than 30 days. However, you must meet certain requirements. The repairs must be necessary to address certain health and safety violations and you must acquire permits before you serve your tenant with a notice of eviction.

If your tenant is evicted for substantial repairs, they are entitled to relocation payments in the amount of two months’ rent. If your tenant or a member of their household is a senior (65 years or older), disabled, terminally-ill or has minor children in the household, they are entitled to an additional 1 months’ rent, for a total of 3 months’ rent.

You cannot pursue an eviction for substantial repairs if you own another vacant unit within the town of Fairfax that your tenant can temporarily reside in until the repairs are complete. You also cannot pursue an eviction against your tenant if the repairs can be completed within 60 days and your tenant does not agree to vacate in writing.

Finally, if your tenant is evicted for substantial repairs, they have the right to return if the unit is returned to the market within 3 years. If they choose to return to the unit, you must offer the same terms and rent at the time of your eviction, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance. It is your tenant’s responsibility to ensure you have their current contact information.

Under the ordinance, you may evict your tenant if you or your spouse, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, the spouse/domestic partner of the relative, or a care giver providing care to a member of the household seek in good faith to occupy the unit as your/their primary residence. This is referred to as an “Owner Move-In.” You or the family member must occupy the unit within 90 days of the unit being vacated and intend to occupy the unit for at least 1 year.

However, you cannot pursue an eviction for an Owner Move-In if any of the following are true:

  • You or your family member already occupies a unit on the property, unless you can show “good cause”
  • There is another vacant unit on the property
  • There is another comparable unit on the property occupied by a tenant who moved onto the property more recently.
  • If your tenant has resided on the property for more than three years and is 65 years or older, disabled, or terminally ill UNLESS you or your family member is also disabled or terminally ill and there is no other vacant unit on the property.

Right of Return: If your tenant is displaced due to an Owner Move-In and their former rental unit returns to the market within 3 years, they have the right to return to that unit under the same terms as their former tenancy and with the same rent, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance.

Relocation: If your tenant is displaced due to an Owner Move-In, you must provide relocation payments equal to two months’ rent at the time you serve the notice of termination. If your tenant or a member of their household is 65 years of age or older, 17 years of age or younger, disabled, or terminally-ill, then they are entitled to an additional 1 months’ rent relocation payment, for a total of 3 months’ rent.

Under the ordinance, you maintain the right to evict your tenant in order to permanently withdraw your rental unit from the rental market (i.e., go out of business) as permitted by the Ellis Act. These are often referred to as “Ellis Act Evictions.”

If you serve your tenant an Ellis Act Eviction, you are required to provide a minimum of 120 days advance notice. If your tenant or a member of their household is 65 years of age or older or disabled, you must provide 180 days of advance notice.

If you serve your tenant an Ellis Act Eviction and attempt to place the unit, or a newly constructed unit, back on the rental market within two years, you may be liable to the displaced tenant for triple damages.

Right of Return: If your tenant is displaced due to an Ellis Act Eviction and their former rental unit, or a newly constructed rental unit, returns to the market within five years, they have the right to return to that unit under the same terms as their former tenancy and with the same rent, plus any lawful adjustments under Fairfax’s Rent Stabilization ordinance. It is your tenant’s responsibility to ensure you have their current contact information. A tenant’s right to return, however, ends once the property is transferred by inheritance.

Lease terms under one year: You can choose to evict your tenant if their lease term is less than one year and you had previously occupied the unit and want to return. You are not required to provide any relocation payments.

Protections for school age children and educators: You cannot evict for substantial repairs or owner move-in if your tenant has resided in the unit for more than a year and there are K-12 school-age children under the age of 18 or employees/contractors of a Marin K-12 school in the household if the notice of eviction requires move out during the school year. “Educators” includes any staff or contractors employed by the school (examples: counselors, custodians, etc.).

Written warning requirement: If you believe your tenant is creating a nuisance on the property (example: causing damage to the unit) or refusing you lawful entry of the unit, you must first give your tenant a letter describing the alleged violation seven days before you serve a notice of eviction or right to cure. We recommend that you discuss with your tenant, in writing, how to resolve the alleged nuisance or refusal before an eviction notice is served.

It depends. ADUs are not subject to Fairfax’s just cause ordinance if the ADU is attached to your home and that home is your primary residence. JADUs are not subject to Fairfax’s just cause ordinance if you occupy the home.

No. Short-term rentals of less than 30 days are exempt from just cause eviction protections.

Under the ordinance, you may establish a temporary tenancy with a new tenant that does not require relocation payments if the following are true:

  • You will be recovering the unit to occupy as your primary residence when the temporary tenancy ends;
  • You previously occupied the unit as your primary residence prior to the temporary tenancy beginning;
  • The temporary tenancy lasts longer than 30 days but less than 12 months;
  • The beginning of the temporary tenancy, you provide the tenant with a written statement that includes the length of the tenancy and that the tenancy may be terminated at the end of the temporary tenancy period.

You may set the maximum number of occupants for your unit in the original lease.

If your tenant requests to sublease their unit, you may refuse their request in writing within 14 days of receiving said request. You must state the reason for your refusal, which may not be based on the proposed additional occupant’s lack of creditworthiness, if the occupant will not be directly paying rent to you. If you do not respond to your tenant’s request within 14 days, their request will be deemed approved. The sublease must be replacing a departing tenant(s) and only on a one-for-one basis.

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