Rent Control Petition Draft
The People of the City of ANYTOWN hereby petition to amend the Charter of the City of ANYTOWN to add this Article, to take effect immediately as an emergency measure, to be entitled "Tenant Protection", and to be voted upon at a Special Election:
The purpose of Rent Control is to stop unrestrained, unwarranted rent increases and evictions which adversely affect the peaceful enjoyment of the renting majority of our urban population, take revenue away from local merchants, dramatically exacerbate inflation, inhibit home ownership, and upset the education of our children. Normal market forces, the City Council and existing laws have failed to protect ANYTOWN from those impacts. This Article is a consumer revolt and shall be construed to protect the right to decent, affordable homes for all tenants. This Article applies to all residential real property in ANYTOWN, except for such State or Federal preemption as may be established in court..
A. Maximum Annual Increase:
It shall be illegal for the landlord of residential property to charge rents in excess of the rates established herein, or to increase rents more than once per year. The landlord may elect to increase rents by either the CPI Method or Expense Pass Through Method.
1. CPI Method: The rent for a residential rental unit in shall not be increased by more than the last annual published CPI percentage , not to exceed 3% per year.
2. Expense Pass Through Method:
In lieu of the CPI Method, the landlord may pass through all increases or decreases in the operating expenses for the subject rental complex to adjust rents. The term "operating expenses" as used herein means the costs of operating the rental complex other than financing, legal fees, judgments, penalties, or management, which directly benefit the complex under the Categories of maintenance, repairs, insurance, supplies, utilities, property taxes, and capital improvements. Increases in financing costs are excluded under this method, because they reflect paying too high a price for the complex, poor financial planning, and an attempt to circumvent rent stabilization.
To use the Expense Pass Through Method the landlord must strictly comply with all of the following:
(a) The election may only be made once every 5 years, must apply to all units in the complex, and is binding on successor owners, whom the former owner is responsible for informing of that election and all pertinent financial information. The election shall continue for 5 years, at which time the landlord may return to the CPI method and charge rent per unit at the lower of (1) the rate calculated by the Expense Adjustment method or (2) the rate accrued by the CPI method calculated from the Base Date.
(b) The landlord must advise each tenant in the complex in writing of (1) the election to calculate rent increases and decreases according to expenses rather than CPI, (2) a detailed accounting by year and Category of the prior five yearsí operating expenses, (3) a clear explanation for any pending increase due to an amortized expense, (4) the total income received from the complex for each such year, and (5) their absolute right to review supporting documentation to be available at the complex, and to make such other inquiries as may be necessary to verify the truth of the representations made by the landlord. The detail shall include each Category of expense identified above.
(c) If the landlord fails or refuses to (1) give the detailed information, (2) make it available at the rental complex, (3) answer tenant inquiries regarding the expenses, or provides false information to the tenant, the landlord shall not be entitled to any rent money from such tenant for any month during which the landlord fails to provide such information as well as any month for which the information is false or withheld. Any rents paid by the tenant during those months shall be a credit toward future rents, or may be demanded by the tenant as a lump sum payment forthwith.
(d) The landlord who elects this method of rent adjustment shall be limited to a 3% annual rent increase for each rental unit, and must also decrease rents proportionately as costs decrease in subsequent years. The landlord shall amortize expenses over the economic life of each item, employ standard accounting practices such as are employed for income tax purposes, and not attempt to use a single yearís expenses as an excuse to retain corresponding higher rent levels after the amortization period.
(e) The amount of each tenantís rent increase or decrease under this method shall be derived from the change in operating expenses for the complex as follows. The amount of increase or decrease in the total amortized operating expenses for the complex for the prior year shall be divided equally over the following 12 months, and then applied to each tenantís rent according to their percentage of the monthly rental income for the rental complex.
1. Except as described in paragraphs (2) or (3) of this section, upon the effective date of this measure, rent increased since _____ [the Base Date] shall be rolled back to the rate charged on the Base Date, adjusted forward by no more than the CPI. Any rent increases since the Base Date must be refunded to the tenant forthwith, plus 10% simple interest.
2. If the reason for the increase was to circumvent this Article in an attempt to "lock in" higher rents to be controlled, an affected tenant may sue the landlord to establish that fact, and if successful, the tenant is entitled:
(a) to have their rent rolled back to the rate prior to the increase without any annual adjustment for the first year,
(b) to recover all of the rent increase increments paid during that period, with interest, as a lump sum,
(c) to attorney fees and court costs. The successful landlord in such an action shall not be entitled to attorney fees
If the annual increase totaled more than 2%, the landlord shall be presumed to have raised the rent to circumvent this Article, and must show by clear and convincing evidence that such increase was required by extraordinary circumstances, which did not include voluntarily obtained financing.
3. Within the first week of any new tenancy of an existing rental unit, the initial rent shall be readjusted by the CPI calculated from the Base Date, not to exceed 3% per year increase or decrease for each such year. A new rental unit, built or first offered for rent after the effective date of this Article, shall be exempt from the rollback adjustment, but is otherwise subject to this Article. A "remodeled" unit, as shown by the applicable construction permit issued, is not "new" under this exemption, unless it was not previously offered for rent.
1. Disclosure of Terms: Within 30 days of enactment hereof, as well as for each new tenant and change of ownership of the complex thereafter, the landlord shall provide each tenant with the following in writing:
(a) a clear and legible copy of this Article in at least 10 point type (Elite) in English and, if the tenant so requests, a copy translated into Spanish or OTHER LANGUAGE which shall be provided by the City of ANYTOWN at no charge.
(b) a clear, legible copy of the rental agreement (or a complete written list of terms of an oral agreement) including the content specified by Civil Code ß1962, all effective amendments and notices to date and, if the tenant so requests, a legible, correct translation of each such document into Spanish or OTHER LANGUAGE.
(c) the name, street address, and telephone number of at least one natural person who directly or indirectly owns the rental unit and is authorized to act on behalf of the owners. If the ownership is indirect, the correct name of each legal entity and registered fictitious business name of the person or entity in the hierarchy of ownership must also be provided.
(d) a conspicuous statement at the top of the rental agreement or list of terms of tenancy, in at least 14 point bold type (which may be on the contract) that the tenancy is under ANYTOWN Rent Control,
(e) the date of the last rent increase for that unit, and the monthly rental rates charged before and after that increase,
(f) all information required by any Fair Return adjustment, including the rental amount and reversion date to take effect
(g) all information required to be give to the tenant by the Expense Pass Through Method, if so elected.
2. Disclosure of Rents: Any rent increase notice, eviction notice, or any change of terms of tenancy must also:
(a) state that the tenancy is governed by rent control in at least 14 point bold type at the top of the document,
(b) identify the 3% annual maximum limit and current CPI rate,
(c) provide the information required by the Expense Pass Through Method, if so elected
(d) state the last published annual CPI by which that rent increase is governed, and
(e) be written in English, and correctly translated to Spanish or OTHER LANGUAGE, if the tenant has so requested.
3. Truth in Renting Disclosure: Prior to offering a unit for rent, the landlord shall
(a) make a thorough inspection of the unit and the common areas,
(b) repair and correct any and all defective conditions,
(c) eradicate the vermin and unhealthy substances, and
(d) provide each prospective tenant with a written warranty clearly entitled, "Truth in Renting Disclosure", fully disclosing any defects or unhealthy conditions which remain on the premises at the time the unit is being offered for rent. The landlord must further certify by signature that no other defective or unhealthy conditions remain on the premises. A copy of that warranty shall be attached to, and become a permanent part of, the rental agreement of that tenant for that unit. No rental agreement shall contain any provision which states or suggests that the tenant has inspected the premises and accepted them to be in good condition unless the premises are completely free of any defects or unhealthy conditions, the landlord has so certified by his Disclosure, and the tenant has actually made such an inspection having at least one full uninterrupted hour to complete it, with all utilities functioning and the reasonable opportunity to obtain any necessary testing equipment required.
Violation of these disclosure requirements by the landlord is actionable fraud, in addition to other civil and criminal remedies.
4. Translation: The landlord may translate the rental agreement, amendments, and notices into other languages used by the tenant, such as Korean, Tagalog, Armenian, Chinese, Russian, or Farsi. If the landlord elects not to so translate, any notice or contract term which has not been so translated shall be construed against the landlord and in favor of the tenant, to mean what tenant reasonably understood it meant.
5. Credit Disclosure: For any prospective tenant or existing tenant whose rental application was reviewed using any credit or rental history report, the landlord shall give the tenant a copy of that report at no additional charge upon that personís request.
D. Prohibited Practices:
Landlords shall not do any of the following, each of which is presumed to be an effort to circumvent Rent Control:
1. Limit or otherwise preclude the number of occupants or guests, except under State or County health laws
2. Reduce any services, including but not limited to: maintenance, repairs, utilities, recreational facilities, parking, form or manner of rent payment, or regarding pets, rules, or management.
3. Charge any fees, including for pets, late payment, parking, or for services not specially requested in writing and received by the tenant. Any new separate charge for utilities must also simultaneously reduce the base rent by the prior yearís average monthly cost for such utilities, and proof of such costs must be given to the tenant along with any notice of an agreed change of terms of tenancy.
4. Fail to give the tenant a copy of the rental agreement and other accompanying papers required by this Article immediately upon the tenant signing the agreement; such copy shall be simultaneously signed by the landlord or his agent, binding the landlord to its terms.
5. Refuse or fail to promptly present a requested Spanish or OTHER LANGUAGE translation of the documents as required in this Article
6. Compel the tenant to move to another rental unit, or to temporarily vacate the premises for fumigation or repairs, without an advance payment of adequate compensation, as described in this Article.
7. Deny by any means the tenantís right to at least one on-site parking space per unit, including: renting existing garage space to nonresidents of the rental complex, prohibiting guests of the tenant from parking in the space, requiring removal of a temporarily inoperable or unregistered vehicle, threatening to tow vehicles from the tenantís site, preventing the tenant from using a portion of their parking space for nonhazardous storage of personal property, restricting the size or number of vehicles occupying the space, reducing the size of the space, blocking the tenantís ingress or egress, charging a separate amount from the residential rent for the parking space, limiting times of use, failing to maintain the security gate in fully functional condition, failing to maintain adequate lighting for the parking area, and failing to maintain safe, well-lit, and adequate passage from the parking area to the rental unit.
8. Compel the tenant to sign a new agreement or amendment, or unilaterally change any term of tenancy (including "rules") other than the permitted rent increase, or coerce the tenant to agree to any change of terms of tenancy by any means. Coercion shall be presumed where the tenant does not receive a substantial consideration for the new benefits conferred upon the landlord. All doubts shall be construed in favor of a finding of such coercion, which the landlord must rebut with clear and convincing evidence.
9. Threaten, harass, attempt to evict, or evict the tenant upon unilaterally or coercively imposed new terms
10. Disturb the tenantís quiet enjoyment or harass the tenant by any means,
including but not limited to:
(a) abuse of Civil Code ß1954 entry of the premises;
(d) excessive or unwarranted notices;
(e) failure or refusal to make habitability repairs;
(f) selective or unequal enforcement of contract terms or rules;
(g) failure or refusal to communicate with the tenant regarding the premises;
(h) enforcing or attempting to enforce unreasonable rules;
(i) threatening or insinuating deportation or a criminal complaint against the tenant; and
(j) discrimination or disparate treatment of any kind which does not have a specific and material business justification which the landlord immediately provides in writing upon the tenantís challenge.
11. Refuse to rent to a prospective tenant based upon any prior unlawful detainer action where (a) the action had been dismissed, (b) judgment was entered for the tenant, or (c) the judgment against the tenant was the result of a settlement agreement.
12. Require the tenant to pay rent in a manner which prevents the tenant from having proof of timely payment, such as payment by mail, deposit in a drop box, having no person available to issue a correct receipt, slipping the rent under a door, requiring cash payment without a receipt, or refusal to accept direct bank deposits or payments by credit or debit card. In all such cases, the landlord shall bear the risk of lost payments, which shall include waiting for the tenant to obtain a replacement money order or cashierís check upon the same funds as the lost payment, reduced by the reasonable costs of stopping payment and reissuing the new payment instrument.
13.Fail or refuse to comply with any term of this Charter Amendment. The landlords are conclusively presumed to know and understand the terms hereof, having access to legal advice as a business expense. Substantial compliance is noncompliance.
E. Fair Return:
The landlord shall be entitled to a fair return on investment on the rental units subject to this Article, under the following process and conditions:
1. The landlord may file an action for declaratory relief, to prove by clear and convincing evidence an entitlement to a specific rental rate from specific rental units, for such specific period of time, not to exceed five years, as the landlord establishes is necessary to obtain a fair return on investment.
2. The percentage amount of the fair return on investment shall be established by comparison with the return, benefits, and risk levels of other investments, such as the average annual return on investment of all stocks and bonds publicly traded at the Pacific Stock Exchange, certificates of deposit, and bank savings accounts, measured against reasonably calculated risks. The fair return calculation shall not consider other income property, to preserve the effectiveness of this intended restriction on rents. The fair return on investment shall not exceed 10% of the investment, nor 10% of the total rent to be charged per annum under any circumstances, due to the relatively risk-free nature of income property, its inordinate tax advantages, and its marketability to other investors, which the court shall consider and weigh heavily.
3. The investment upon which the return shall be calculated is the down payment, principal payments not derived from rents, plus any additional costs for physical improvements (not repairs) made by the landlord after purchase of the subject property, minus any depreciation, interest, or other tax deductions taken by the landlord for the subject property. Operating budget is not a factor in the investment calculation. In defining the investment, the court must consider factors which identify the landlordís actual cash outlay independent of tenant sources, the same as any other investment. The court shall not consider the market value of the real property, because its rent-dependent capitalization value calculations would self-perpetuate rent increases, contrary to the intent of this Article.
4. The return itself shall be the net amount received per year from rents, judgment awards and applied security deposits for the subject property minus all expenses, whether financing or operational, subject to the limitations below. Where the landlord has acted foolishly, defiantly, or with poor business judgment, as with any other investment or business operation his success is not guaranteed, nor is it the intent of this Article to reward, ratify, or rescue the landlord from the consequences of such conduct.
5. The landlord must also plead and prove by clear and convincing evidence that:
(a) the landlord is acting in good faith,
(b) the amount of the investment optimally uses financing to reduce the amount of rent charged,
(c) the landlord had diligently maintained and repaired the premises for the prior year immediately preceding,
(d) the expenses claimed are necessarily incurred and cost-effective
(e) the landlord has not used refinancing to extract accumulated equity, such as using it to purchase other property
(f) the landlord has not purchased the subject property at a price in excess of that warranted by existing rents at the prevailing capitalization rate, with existing defects, and reasonably foreseeable future repairs and maintenance
(g) prior to purchase of the rental property, the landlord contemplated a commercially reasonable percentage of rental income to be placed in a sinking fund for repairs, where such repairs are a part of the basis for the rent adjustment sought
(h) prior to the purchase of the rental property, the landlord made a diligent inquiry into the existence of defects and uninhabitable conditions in the rental structure and grounds, including an inquiry thereof from the existing tenants,
(i) the landlord is not using the rent adjustment procedure to compensate for overpayment of purchase price, failure to use reasonable business practices in the purchase and operation of the rental property, neglect, or other lack of diligence, all of which shall be considered to render the rent adjustment action to be a bad faith attempted circumvention of this Article.
6. The City of ANYTOWN and "affected tenants" shall be named as defendants in the declaratory relief action. A copy of the summons and complaint shall be served upon each affected unit, as specified in the complaint. The affected tenants shall be permitted to respond either individually or collectively as a tenant association, or both, provided that the names and unit numbers of such tenant association members are identified in the pleadings and each such member executes the answer to the complaint. The City of ANYTOWN shall respond to the complaint and enforce the landlordís compliance with this Article.
7. Any decree permitting a fair return rent adjustment due to a capital improvement or major repairs must designate the percentage increase attributable to that improvement or repair, require amortization of its financing over not more than 5 years, notify all tenants affected of the time limitation on the increase, specify the amount of increase for each such affected rental unit, and require the future rent to be reduced by that same percentage at the conclusion of the amortization period, with written notice thereof to be given to each affected tenant. A decree without such content is void.
8. The total amount of monthly rent increase, if any, that is permitted by the court shall provide sufficient income for the landlord to pay for all operational expenses and financing which were accrued in good faith, plus provide the calculated fair return on investment permitted by this Article. The amount of the increase shall be distributed proportionately among the affected tenants according to their pre-existing share of the total rents paid during the prior year, and so specified by the decree, by unit, amount, and applicable time period.
9. If the landlord is unsuccessful in obtaining the requested fair return adjustment in rents, the landlord shall reimburse the City of ANYTOWN and the affected tenants who filed responses to the complaint for all attorney fees and costs incurred. The landlord shall not be entitled to recover attorney fees or costs from the City of ANYTOWN nor from the affected tenants if the landlord is successful in obtaining an adjustment in rents through such action, being adequately compensated by the increase.
III.Just Cause Eviction
A. Part of Rent Control:
As a necessary protection of affected tenants against landlord attempts to circumvent rent stabilization provisions, to promote tenantsí quiet enjoyment, to curb a broad range of historical abuses committed by unrestrained landlords, and to protect tenants in their free exercise of rights under this Article, the People of ANYTOWN deem just cause eviction provisions to be an essential and integral part of effective rent control. The eviction may not be arbitrated. The Just Cause Eviction ordinance enacted by the City of ANYTOWN is hereby superseded and repealed as being in irreconcilable conflict with this Article.
B. Reasons for Eviction:
A landlord may evict a tenant only for one of the following reasons, which must be pleaded and proven by clear and convincing evidence, in good faith and against the rebuttable presumption that the eviction is invalid:
1. Nonpayment of rent, except
(a) rent, fees or charges in violation of this Article,
(b) where the rental unit lacks the required certificate of occupancy, or
(c) where the landlord has failed to supply the documents and notices as required by this Article
(d) where the tenant claims a bona fide offset against the rent, such as for repair and deduct, illegal late fees, prior overcharged rent, security deposit overcharges, unpaid damages, penalties or interest due from the landlordís violations of this Article, prior uninhabitable conditions or disturbances of the tenantís quiet enjoyment for which the landlord has not adequately compensated the tenant, to the extent of such offsets.
2. Violation of a material term of the rental agreement for which the landlord can also demonstrate a significant economic impact or a nontrivial violation of the rights of other tenants of that landlord, except:
(a) a term which directly or indirectly violates this Article, including the Prohibited Practices,
(b) a prohibition against pets unless:
(1) based upon a substantial nuisance or disturbance of other tenants caused by such pet, or
(2) the tenant fails after 30 daysí written demand to obtain reasonable insurance against injury to persons or property by the pet, stating that deadline and the intent to serve a 3-day notice thereafter if insurance is not obtained
No eviction for pets shall be based upon confined small creatures such as birds, fish, turtles, and hamsters.
3. Malicious and substantial destruction of the rental unit or common areas proximately caused by the tenant or their invitees, which the tenant has failed to pay for or repair within 10 days of service of a written notice to the tenant specifying the damage and requesting its repair by the tenant within those 10 days, starting from the tenantís actual receipt of that request. Accidental damage to the rental premises caused by the tenant is not grounds for eviction, although the tenant may be liable in a civil action for compensation.
4. Substantial disturbance of the quiet enjoyment of other tenants of the same landlord which continues after a written notice thereof to the tenant has expired, specifying the disturbance in detail and requiring the tenant to cease and desist such further disruptions within 3 days after service of such notice.
5. Use of the rental unit in violation of zoning ordinances or for the commission of a crime for which the tenant has been convicted, which crime(s) inherently required the subject rental premises for its commission, such as illegal drug manufacturing or prostitution.
6. Unwarranted refusal to permit the landlord reasonable access to the rental unit for the purposes specified therein, provided that:
(a) the landlord has first given the tenant at least 24 hoursí written notice of intent to enter, specifying the purpose, date and time period of entry, in accordance with Civil Code ß1954.
(b) such access has not been abused to harass the tenant, such as by installing a "lock box" for unrestricted realtor entry
(c) where such access requires Temporary Relocation of the tenant, the landlord has fully complied with all requirements identified below, and the tenant has then failed to vacate the premises.
7. The landlord needs to permanently remove the tenant to perform repairs costing greater than $15,000 per unit, demolish the building, or comply with a governmental order to terminate the use of the rental unit, provided the landlord has first:
(a) Paid the tenants relocation expenses of $5,000, or in the case of any tenant with dependent children, a disability inhibiting relocation, or who is 60 years of age or older, relocation expenses of $10,000
(b) Paid the tenant a full refund of the security deposit
(c) Given the tenant a written 60-day notice of termination of tenancy, specifying the relocation assistance to be paid and the reasons for the permanent removal from the unit.
(d) acquired reconstruction approval for conversion of an apartment to condominiums, stock cooperatives or other individually owned units to the same standards as for a new condominium under current codes. The landlord must have the plans and permits prior to commencing any eviction of the tenant. The City shall strictly enforce this requirement. The City and the developer are liable to any subsequent purchaser of a defective unit for any failure to inspect or enforce those standards for the cost of corrective construction, temporary lodging, inconvenience, reduced value, and attorney fees.
The dollar amounts in this section for repairs and compensation shall be adjusted annually by the CPI, from the date of this enactment. Payment shall be made directly to the occupants of the rental unit, collectively. If a tenant named in the rental agreement no longer resides there, it shall be paid to those persons whose rent payments have been accepted by the landlord, who shall not be liable for omitting a payee in good faith where the payment was otherwise made to the other paying occupants. Sale of the property or foreclosure shall not constitute grounds for eviction. The landlord is not prohibited from negotiating in good faith with the tenant to arrive at any other conclusion involving the tenant vacating the premises without a formal eviction.
C. Detail Required:
An eviction notice given to the tenant must explain in detail the circumstances associated with the eviction. Where the tenant is alleged to be at fault, the notice must identify the alleged nature of the conduct in detail, its time, date, and location, as well as the names of witnesses to the alleged conduct. Where the tenant is not alleged to be at fault, the notice must identify what the landlord plans to do with the property, and make available to the tenant on request any construction or demolition plans, permits, copy of the order to vacate upon which the eviction may be based, or such other documents as support the alleged reason for eviction. Any failure to strictly comply with this requirement is a complete defense to an eviction. Substantial compliance is noncompliance.
D. Temporary Relocation:
Where the landlord needs to have the tenant temporarily relocate from the premises in order to fumigate the premises, perform substantial repairs or improvements, correct the damage from a fire or natural disaster, or to remove toxic substances such as mold, lead paint, and asbestos, such relocation is not an eviction under this Article, provided that:
1. The affected tenants are paid adequate compensation for temporary relocation along with their notice to temporarily relocate, which shall be the reasonable estimate of actual expenses to be incurred, based upon actual rates, for moving, food, temporary shelter, and other incidental expenses caused by the move, such as kitchen cleaning and replacing food items after fumigation, for the specified period of time.
2. The tenants receive a minimum of 72 hoursí advance written notice of the requirement for them to temporarily relocate, guaranteeing them the right to return to the premises upon the conclusion of the work, specifying the return date, and identifying the tenantsí rights to receive additional money from the landlord should the return date be extended, or estimated amounts are inadequate. The landlord shall also request a contact telephone number from the tenant in the event of an extension of the return date.
3. In the event that the temporary relocation time is extended beyond the period specified in the notice to the tenant, the landlord shall, at least 24 hours in advance of the initial return date:
(a) advise the tenant by telephone (or better means) of the return date extension, and to receive the additional payments,
(b) give the tenant additional written notice of the extension identifying the new anticipated return date,
(c) pay the tenant such additional daily expenses for the extended period, calculated as the prorated daily payments derived from the initial relocation period
(d) if the tenant cannot be located by the 24 hour period, immediately deposit the money in the bank for the tenant pursuant to Civil Code ß1500, and conspicuously post notice of such deposit on the tenantís unit front door.
4. The failure of the landlord to pay such relocation fees for the temporary relocation expenses shall increase the landlordís obligation to the tenant by $1,000 per day per such rental unit. Payment of such compensation shall not diminish the landlordís liability for any theft of or damage to the tenantsí personal property, nor any illness suffered from pesticides used at the premises or other personal injury, nor for the wrongful eviction.
If the tenant asserts a good faith defense to an eviction based upon a curable breach under this Article and is unsuccessful, the court shall order that the judgment for the landlord shall be vacated, that judgment be entered for Defendant and that the tenancy shall be reinstated if the tenant pays the accrued rent current, reimburses the landlord for reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in the eviction lawsuit, and cures the breach, within seven (7) days. All breaches are presumed to be curable. It is the intent of this provision to protect the tenant in their good faith assertion of rights against losing their tenancy. If the trial court fails to stay execution of the unlawful detainer pending appeal, the tenantís losses from the eviction are five times the amount of rent otherwise accruing during the appeal, if reversed, which may be recovered in a separate action. This provision does not prevent the landlord from asserting claims through other than the unlawful detainer proceeding, such as small claims court.
Any affected tenant shall have the following rights in the event of their landlordís violations of the provisions of this Article, in addition to other rights provided by law:
1. The landlordís uncured violation of any provision of this Article at least 30 days prior to commencement of any eviction effort shall be a complete defense to any eviction of the affected tenant.
2. If the landlord attempts to charge any amount in excess of that permitted by this Article, the tenant is authorized to withhold payment of all rent until such time as the demand for the excess is withdrawn, and the tenant shall be entitled to an offset against current and future rent in the amount of 10 times the amount of the attempted overcharge, allocated as the tenant shall elect. If the tenant pays the excess in error or under threat of eviction, the tenant shall be entitled to that amount of offset against any future demand for rent, in an amount equal to 10 times the amount of such accumulated excess actually paid.
3. If the landlord has failed to supply any of the Notices or translated documents required by the Rent Stabilization provisions of this Article, the tenant is entitled to withhold all rent until such time as the landlord provides such documentation as required therein.
4. In any legal action involving the tenantís rights under this Article, each tenant who is a prevailing party shall be entitled to recover attorney fees and costs incurred.
5. If the landlord attempts to evict the tenant in bad faith, whether by misrepresentation or facts, avoidance of payment, in retaliation for the tenantís assertion of rights, selective enforcement of lease provisions, abuse of access to the tenantís rental unit, refusal to comply with the requirements of this Article, or otherwise, the landlord shall be liable to the tenant for additional penalties of $250 per day for as long as the conduct continues, and no less than $1000, per incident, to be awarded in the unlawful detainer trial or by separate action filed by the tenant if an unlawful detainer action is not completed.
6. In any civil action, including an unlawful detainer action, the landlord shall be additionally liable to the affected individuals for any rent, damages, or fees, for not less than $250 nor more than $1000 per day for each act in violation of the Prohibited Practices identified above. Such offset shall not bar the tenant from recovering the balance of the amounts due in a separate action which are not applied as offsets, nor relieve the landlord from further liability for punitive damages, injunctive relief or other remedies.
7. The tenant is entitled to apply toward the current monthís rent as an offset any overpayment made to the landlord during the tenancy, including any excessive rent, rollback adjustment, penalties due under this Article or State law, money judgments which the tenant has against the landlord, late fees violating Civil Code ßß1671, excessive deposits, charges which are not expressly authorized by the written rental agreement, repair costs authorized by Civil Code ß1942 which the landlord refused to permit, and utility overcharges paid to the landlord. The tenant should inform the landlord of such deductions from the rent when paying it.
8. Failure of the landlord to timely provide the Truth in Renting Disclosure to any tenant who signs the rental agreement shall be deemed to be a fraudulent inducement and an attempt to undermine the value to be received for the rent being controlled hereunder; such failure shall prohibit the landlord from demanding or receiving rent, regaining possession, or enforcing any term of the rental agreement until such Disclosure is provided. If the landlord fails to provide such disclosure prior to the tenant signing the rental agreement, the tenant shall have the option to cancel the rental agreement without further notice, remain in possession of the premises upon newly negotiated terms as the parties may agree, or apply rents otherwise due thereafter to repair all such conditions untimely disclosed until all repairs are completed. For any defective or unhealthy condition in the rental unit which the landlord omits from a Truth in Renting Disclosure, or for any such conditions which should have been disclosed in an untimely or omitted Disclosure, the tenant shall be entitled to apply rents otherwise due to repair such conditions until all such repairs are completed. The tenant shall additionally be entitled to a reasonable rent reduction, and rebate for amounts already paid, of not less than 10% of the amounts otherwise due, as the Court shall impose in an action filed by the tenant. If the landlord fails to give the tenant a timely and truthful Disclosure as required herein, and the rental agreement also contains a false provision whereby the tenant purportedly agrees that the premises are in good condition, the landlord shall additionally pay the tenant $1,000 for such fraudulent attempt, which the tenant may apply against rent otherwise due or demand as an immediate cash payment.
The People of the City of ANYTOWN anticipate that landlords who intend to charge excessive rents, slumlord, and abuse their tenants will file legal challenge to this Article. In such event, the City of ANYTOWN shall defend this Article against legal challenge. In any such legal challenge to the validity or constitutionality of this Article, the City of ANYTOWN shall be entitled to recover all attorney fees and costs incurred by them in their successful defense of this Article, and the persons challenging the Article shall not be entitled to recover any attorney fees incurred, but only court costs. The People of ANYTOWN deem such challenges to their expressed will to be frivolous and unwarranted, and which should be discouraged. If such litigation postpones the effective date of this measure, the interest payment due back to the tenants along with the rebates of the increases shall be 15% simple interest, plus attorney fees and costs incurred in enforcing such payments.
B. Repeal of Inconsistent Articles
If the City Council, any Charter Revision committee or the voters of ANYTOWN have previously approved a Charter Amendment which concerns the ability of the City of ANYTOWN to regulate rents and rental practices which is inconsistent with this Article, such Article is hereby repealed, effective upon enactment of this Article.
As with other laws enacted by petition, the provisions of this Article are to be liberally construed to protect the tenants, but remain severable, such that if any part is found to be invalid, all remaining portions shall continue in effect, and the City of ANYTOWN City Council shall immediately enact ordinances which most closely resemble those provisions of this Article held to be invalid but which cure the identified invalidity.