Residential Lease Terms

On February 6, 2024, the City Council adopted changes to the ordinance previously known as the Residential Rental Security Measures, and is now being replaced with the Residential Lease Terms Ordinance, which shall take effect and be enforced thirty (30) calendar days after the date of its adoption. 

Minimum Lease Terms

  • A.  Offer: If a Tenant or prospective Tenant wishes to rent a rental unit from a Landlord and the Landlord wishes to rent the rental unit to the Tenant or prospective Tenant, the Landlord must offer to the Tenant or prospective Tenant a written lease that has a minimum term of one (1) year. Offers must be made in writing.
  • B.  Acceptance: If the Tenant or prospective Tenant accepts the offer of a written lease which has a minimum term of one (1) year, this acceptance must be in writing.
  • C.  Rejection: If the Tenant or prospective Tenant rejects the offer for a written lease which has a minimum term of one (1) year, the Landlord and Tenant or prospective Tenant may then enter into an agreement, oral or written, that provides for a rental term of less than one (1) year.
  • D.  Rent: If the Landlord and Tenant enter into a written lease which has a minimum term of one (1) year, such lease must set the rent for the rental unit at a rate or rates certain and these rates shall not otherwise be modified during the term of such lease.
  • E.  Renewal of Lease: Upon the expiration of any lease or lease renewal that has a minimum term of at least one (1) year, a lease shall be offered again in accordance with the procedures of subsections (A) – (D), so long as both the landlord and tenant wish to continue the rental relationship. If, however, either the Landlord or Tenant does not wish to continue the rental relationship, then there shall be no obligation for the Landlord to offer, or for the Tenant to accept, any renewal of the lease, unless required by state law. This subsection shall not apply to a rental unit that is rented subject to a written lease of less than one (1) year.
  • F. Applicability: This applies to each residential rental unit located within the city. 

 May the landlord and tenant agree to terms shorter or longer than a one year lease? 

Yes. Landlords must offer tenants a one year lease, but the landlord and tenant may agree to other rentals terms. Recommended practice is to ensure all terms are documented in writing and signed by both landlord and tenant. 

What is required of the landlord/property owner/property management company? 

A landlord shall offer a tenant or prospective tenant a written lease with a minimum term of one (1) year every twelve months.

The notice regarding minimum lease terms shall be provided prior to entering any lease. 

Sample language to tenants: 

The Half Moon Bay Municipal Code may provide you with the right to minimum lease terms. Landlords must offer tenants the option to enter into a one (1) year written lease. It is the tenant’s choice whether to enter into such a written lease with a landlord. Further information is available on the City’s website

Landlord and Tenant Dispute Resolution

Mandatory discussion of rental housing disputes is included in the Residential Lease Terms Ordinance. 

  • A.  RequirementAll landlords and tenants shall participate in the conciliation and mediation of rental unit disputes as provided in this section. A rental unit dispute means a fact-based grievance raised by any tenant or landlord regarding the occupancy or use of a rental unit limited to rental rate increases, deposits, repairs and maintenance, utilities, occupants, parking and storage facilities, privacy, quiet enjoyment, or use of common areas.
  • B.  Procedure: Any tenant or landlord may request mandatory discussion of a rental unit dispute by filing a written request for dispute resolution within twenty-one days of learning the facts that give rise to the dispute. The request must be filed with the Administrator and must provide sufficient factual information to outline the basic issue or issues being raised.

Do terms from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 still apply?

Yes, see information regarding California Assembly Bill 1482 also known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which includes rent limits and just cause eviction protections for tenants. 

If I need legal aid or mediation services for assistance, who should I contact?

Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County
Provides free legal advice, counsel, and representation to help low-income people maintain their housing. Offers a Housing Clinic in English and Spanish at Fair Oaks Community Center on Friday mornings.
Tel: (650) 558-0915

Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center
Mediation, coaching, and collaborative problem solving for landlords and tenants
Mediation Hotline (650) 345-PCRC (7272)

Project Sentinel
Provides trained counselors to answer questions about rights, responsibilities, and options at no cost
Tel: (650)321-6291 

History of the Residential Rental Security Measures 

On December 3, 2019, the City Council passed the Residential Rental Security Measures ordinance (Municipal Code Chapter 7.70) finding that tenants have a right to a written lease and that a contractual relationship with a landlord may offer some needed assurances of stability to minimize displacement of tenants in a rental housing market affording tenants few and increasingly expensive options. In addition to minimum lease terms, the Residential Rental Security Measures ordinance includes mandatory discussion and/or mediation of rental unit disputes for landlords and tenants. 

Please see Municipal Code Chapter 7.70 for specific provisions of the Residential Rental Security Measures ordinance. 

Link to the Housing Resources and Services page.