How to Determine Whether Your San Jose Apartment is Subject to Rent Control

There has been a lot of activity in San Jose, California around its rent control regulations. A number of proposals have gone before the City Council for consideration—some successful, others not. This flurry of activity can make it hard for San Jose property management companies, landlords and real estate investors to keep track of what’s what.

Consider this: San Jose, CA is the 10th largest city in the nation (3rd largest in California) and is home to more than 330,000 units of housing. Of these, an estimated 41.5% are occupied by renters. That’s a lot of rental housing. Some of these units are subject to San Jose’s rent control policies, others are not. It is important that San Jose property managers, rental property owners and real estate investors understand the intricacies of the city’s Apartment Rent Ordinance.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting a series of articles in Mynd’s Landlord Journalthat dive into San Jose’s rent control policies. These articles will share a host of information to ensure San Jose property managers, owners and investors have the information they need to comply with local regulations.

Today, we start with the basics. Below we share a brief history of the city’s Apartment Rent Ordinance and then dive into which units are covered by the policy.

A Brief History: San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance

Although it may seem more pronounced today, the affordability of San Jose’s rental housing has been a concern of local leaders for decades. As far back as the late 1970s, a City Council-appointed task force was exploring ways to address a range of issues faced by local renters.

In response, in July 1979, the San Jose City Council adopted a rent-stabilization ordinance that covered both rental apartments and mobile home parks. In 1985, the City Council voted to separate the law into two: one for mobile home parks and the other for rental apartments, the latter of which became known as the San Jose Apartment Rent Ordinance (ARO). The ARO is outlined in Chapter 17.23 of the San Jose Municipal Code.

Rental Units Subject to San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance

According to the ARO, a “rental unit” is defined as the following:

A dwelling unit offered or available for rent in the city of San Jose, together with the land and buildings appurtenant buildings thereto, and all housing services, privileges, and facilities supplied in connection with the use or occupancy thereof, which unit is located in a multiple dwelling or guesthouse as those terms are defined and used in Title 20 of the San Jose Municipal Code.

What?!

Since not everyone is a lawyer, and not every San Jose property manager or rental property owner has time to flip to and from different sections of the San Jose Municipal Code, we’ll break it down in simpler terms.

The San Jose ARO applies to all rental properties that were built and occupied before September 7, 1979 and contain three or more units unless otherwise exempt, as outlined below.

Units Exempt from the San Jose Apartment Rent Ordinance

The San Jose ARO exempts a number of units from the city’s rent control policy. Exempt units include:

  • Rental properties built or occupied after September 7, 1979
  • Single family homes
  • Duplexes
  • Condominiums and townhouses
  • Rooms in hotels or guesthouses that are rented to transient guests for less than 30 days
  • Rental units owned or operated by any government agency or whose rent is subsidized by any government agency (e.g., Section 8, VA vouchers)
  • Rooms in a hospital, extended care facility, emergency residential shelter, asylum, nonprofit home for the aged, fraternity house, sorority house, or in dormitories owned and operated by a school
  • County property located within San Jose’s boundaries

Mapping Units Subject to San Jose’s Rent Control Policy

The City of San Jose has made it easier than ever for people to determine whether their apartment is subject to rent control. The City has created a map of rent-controlled properties, which can be found here.

To see if a property is rent-controlled, select “Multiple Housing Roster” on the menu located on the left side of the screen. Type in the property address and press enter. This will tell you whether the property is rent controlled.

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Still not sure if your rental unit is covered by the city’s rent control law? San Jose property management companies, owners and investors are encouraged to call the City of San Jose to speak with a staff member directly: 408-975-4480.

Otherwise, keep an eye on our Landlord Journal for future articles about San Jose’s Apartment Rent Ordinance!

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