The Rent Stabilization Ordinance has been in effect in the City of West Hollywood since June 27, 1985. The Rent Stabilization Department administers the ordinance and assists landlords and tenants in their relationships with one another. The Ordinance applies to dwelling units only. The rents for commercial spaces are not covered by this code.
What Problems the Ordinance Addresses
The Rent Stabilization Ordinance includes:
- a section governing the administration of the Maximum Allowable Rent (Rent Stabilization);
- a section setting the grounds for termination or non-renewal of tenancy in West Hollywood ("eviction code")
- the eviction section also includes a subsection establishing the actions which could be illegal attempts to get a tenant to vacate the unit (Harassment Code).
The Rent Stabilization section of the Ordinance includes those Codes governing the Maximum Allowable Rent, the registration of rental units, annual registration fees, rents during/after vacancies, increases and decreases in rents, limits on and interest for security deposits, limits on other fees charged to tenants, requirements for maintenance, and existing housing services. Properties covered by these codes are also subject to administrative hearings processes. These include hearings to decrease the Maximum Allowable Rents where maintenance standards are not met, to increase Maximum Allowable Rents where their level has not afforded a fair return to the landlord, to determine rent overcharges, and restore possible overpayments to tenants and to settle disputes over the level of the Maximum Allowable Rent for a unit.
The so-called Eviction Code section of the Ordinance sets forth those causes for which a tenant may be evicted in the City of West Hollywood and establishes the grounds/procedures for tenants' no-fault relocation. Landlords may not terminate tenancies without cause for dwelling units covered by this section of the Ordinance.
The so-called Harassment Code is a subsection of the Ordinance's eviction chapter. This code describes those actions by landlords which could constitute potential misdemeanor violations if committed with the intent to get the tenant to vacate a unit. The City could prosecute the landlord if such actions did not cease.
Properties That Fall Under the Full Ordinance
The following properties generally fall under all sections of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance:
- Properties with more than one dwelling unit that received their original Certificate of Occupancy before July 1, 1979;
- Properties with only one dwelling unit on the whole property whose original Certificate of Occupancy was issued before July 1, 1979, and whose current tenants moved in before January 1, 1996.
Most properties in West Hollywood fall into these categories and are covered by the Rent Stabilization, Eviction, and Harassment section of the Ordinance.
Properties Covered Only by the Ordinance's Eviction and Harassment Sections
As of January 1, 1999, the following types of properties are permanently exempt from the Rent Stabilization section of the Ordinance but are still subject to the Eviction and Harassment sections:
- New Construction Units whose Certificate of Occupancy was first issued on or after July 1, 1979;
- Properties with only one dwelling unit on the entire parcel (condominiums or single family residences) whose current tenant moved in on or after January 1, 1996, or which is currently vacant or owner-occupied;
- Government-owned or subsidized residential rental properties;
These units are still subject to the eviction and harassment sections of the Ordinance; however, their rents are not limited by any Maximum Allowable Rents and the landlords do not have to pay interest on security deposits or limit their fees to Ordinance standards. Landlords and tenants of these units should contact the Rent Stabilization Department to inquire about the protections against termination of tenancy and tenant harassment found in the code or refer to factsheets dealing with eviction, relocation and tenant harassment.
Properties Completely Exempt From the Rent Stabilization Ordinance
Properties permanently exempt from most subsections of the Ordinance include institutional facilities, non-profit housing; and some units in hotels or motels.
If you are not sure about the status of a rental property, you may call the Division at (323) 848-6450 and ask an Information Coordinator.
Individual Units on Rent-Stabilized Properties May Be Temporarily Exempt
Individual units' on fully rent-stabilized properties may be exempt from the Ordinance while they are:
- occupied by the owner or certain close relatives of the owner as their primary place of residence;
- accommodations for nonprofit purposes;
- withdrawn from the rental market for non-rental common-area purposes such as laundry rooms, community rooms, etc.
These are not permanent exemptions. The Department grants them only upon application by the landlord and the units lose their exempt status if they are returned to the rental market. The applications for these exemptions must be received each year before July 1st, to qualify for exemption from the annual rent registration fees for the unit.
Units, that are merely vacant, are not exempt from the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and annual rent registration fees continue to be charged for them.
If you are a tenant living in a unit that has an exemption and you are not a relative of the owner, not receiving Section 8 benefits or not renting nonprofit accommodations, your unit's exemption may be invalid.
If you are a landlord and are living in a unit on your property, have relatives living on your property or are using a former unit for non-rental common-area purposes, check your annual registration fee bill for the number of exempt units so that you can make any corrections by the deadline of July 1st each year.
If you are a new owner and are moving into a unit that the seller or their relative occupied, you have 30 days to renew the owner-occupancy exemption in your own name after taking possession of the property. If you fail to do so, the unit loses its exempt status and will be charged registration fees from the month you own the property until the end of the fiscal year (June 30th).
You may contact the Rent Stabilization Division to check a unit's status under the Ordinance at (323) 848-6450. The Division is located in City Hall's main lobby at 8300 Santa Monica Blvd. It is open Monday to Thursday, 8 am to 5 pm and Friday's, 8 am to 4:30 pm.