Proposed - Rent Control and Tenant Protections

On November 7, 2023, the City Council held a work session on rent control and other tenant protections. This meeting served as an opportunity for staff to present potential opportunities to assist renters within the City of Half Moon Bay. The work session was an opportunity for landlords and tenants to provide their observations and recommendations.

Following community input and City Council discussion, staff was directed to immediately initiate work on: 

  1. Rental registration ordinance (Adopted February 6, 2024)
  2. Rent control ordinance based on Costa Hawkins Act model
  3. Enhanced tenant protections and relocation assistance ordinance
  4. Code enforcement related relocation assistance ordinance

Rent Control 

By majority consensus, the City Council directed staff to initiate work on a Costa Hawkins Act based model of rent control. Click here for the staff November 7 staff report. Staff is currently working on drafting a rent control ordinance for presentation to City Council in early spring, 2024.

Costa Hawkins Act rent control applies as follows:

  • For pre-1995 buildings, annual rent adjustments may be set at an amount specified by the City.
  • Rent Control cannot be applied to rental units (duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and multifamily) with certificates of occupancy issued after February 1, 1995.
  • Condominiums and single-family homes are not subject to rent control regulations.
  • Duplexes, regardless of owner-occupancy may, at Council discretion, be subject to rent control regulations.
  • The landlord may set the base rent at the (current) market rent upon change of tenancy.

Costa Hawkins Act (CHA) Rent Control Applicability by Dwelling Unit Type and Age

Dwelling Unit Characteristics Rent Control Allowed Rent Control Not Allowed
Condominiums and single-family homes  
Duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and other multi-family buildings post-1995  
Duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and other multi-family buildings pre-1995

The City Council expressed interest in considering a rent control ordinance at a future meeting. A specific date has not been decided; however, the item will likely reach the City Council in March 2024. Please sign up for City e-news notifications and City Council agenda notices here.

Tenant Protections

Residential Rental Registration and Lease Terms Ordinance                     (APPROVED FEBRUARY 6, 2024)

For more information, please visit the Residential Rental Registration Ordinance page here or the Residential Lease Terms Ordinance page here.

Proposed Relocation Assistance

At their November 2023 work session, the City Council directed staff to draft an ordinance that would increase the amount of relocation assistance to a tenant due to eviction. Staff is looking into best practices from around the Bay Area for possible inclusion in a draft ordinance.  This ordinance is anticipated to follow the Rent Control Ordinance closely due to linkages to rent control and evictions. 

Proposed Subtenancy Regulations

The City Council may consider including regulations on subtenancy. Community members have expressed concern and shared personal stories with Councilmembers and staff that affect tenants who sublease from a master tenant. Generally, the master tenant in this scenario is the tenant on the written lease with the landlord. The master tenant then charges subtenants higher rent than the original rent required to be paid by lease with the landlord. The Residential Rental Registration program will provide a starting point for documenting subtenancy (homesharing) rentals.

Proposed Code Enforcement Related Relocation Assistance

The Community Development Department is responsible for the protection of public health and safety through enforcement of the City’s Municipal Code which by reference includes the California Building Code. At times, City staff is asked to inspect properties to ascertain whether dwelling units are legal and/or safe to occupy. Where possible, staff works with property owners to find a pathway to the legalization of a unit to limit the displacement of occupants.

In some circumstances, these units are not feasibly or legally able to be repaired/allowed to remain to be used for residential occupancy. In these instances, the City has no choice but to post the unit as “Unsafe to Occupy”. San Mateo County and many other local agencies have enacted ordinances requiring that a property owner be responsible for providing relocation assistance to occupants displaced as a result of code enforcement/compliance efforts. Most jurisdictions see this as meeting two distinct objectives: 1) providing assistance to those families displaced by no fault of their own, and 2) providing incentives to property owners to rent and maintain units that meet City and State occupancy standards.