Union City Residential Landlord and Tenant Relations Ordinance

Puneet Singh, Esq.

May 2017

On May 10, 2017, the Residential Landlord and Tenant Relations Ordinance (“Ordinance”) for the City of Union City went into effect. The Ordinance, which passed on April 11, 2017, requires specific information be provided to tenants, prohibits a landlord from harassing a tenant, and imposes additional obligations on landlords before they can elect to terminate a tenancy.   This article summarizes the requirements of the new ordinance.

Which properties are subject to the Ordinance?

  • The Residential Landlord and Tenant Relations Ordinance applies to all rental units within Union City except for the following types of units:
  • Units in a hotel, motel, lodging rooming house, and boarding house as long as the tenant does not live in the unit for more than thirty consecutive days. Landlords are prohibited from requiring an occupant to move, check out, or register if the purpose is to avoid complying with the new law.
  • A single owner occupied residence when the owner-occupant rents two or fewer bedrooms.
  • Units in a nonprofit cooperatives owned, occupied, and controlled by a majority of the residents.
  • Units where the rent is controlled, regulated, or restricted by a local, State, or Federal government unit, when the control, regulation or restriction would preempt local regulation of landlord and tenant relations. The exemption includes properties that are subject to the Federal low income tax credit program. The exemption does not apply whenever a dwelling unit may be leased or rented at fair market value.
  • Units in any nonprofit hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, asylum, residential care or adult day health care facility for the elderly which is licensed for such purposes.
  • Units in a nonprofit facility that provides short term treatment, assistance, or therapy for alcohol, drug, or other substance abuse and the housing that is provided is incident to the recovery program and where the client has been informed in writing of the temporary nature of the housing at its inception.
  • Units owned by any government unit, agency, or authority.

When can a landlord who is subject to the Ordinance terminate a tenancy?

 A landlord who is subject to the Ordinance may only terminate a tenancy if they 1) possess a valid business license and have registered the rental unit with the City of Union City, 2) have provided the tenant with the Notice of Tenant Rights in accordance with the Ordinance, 3) have served a notice of termination in accordance with the Ordinance, and 4) have not accepted and will not accept rent or any other consideration in return for the continued use of the rental unit beyond the term of the terminated tenancy in compliance with California Civil Code Sections 1945, 1946, and 1946.1. Furthermore, the landlord may only terminate the tenancy for one of the following grounds:

  • The tenant has failed to pay rent (however, failure to pay rent does not constitute grounds for eviction where the tenant has lawfully withheld rent).
  • The tenant has violated a material term of the rental agreement.
  • The tenant has used the unit for an illegal purpose.
  • The tenant created or maintained a dangerous or unsanitary condition (as defined in the Union City Municipal Code or Federal and State law) and that condition has not been abated or repaired.
  • The tenant failed to execute a written extension of an existing rental agreement.
  • The landlord seeks (after obtaining necessary permits) to undertake substantial repairs or planned capital improvements or other necessary rehabilitation that will temporarily remove the rental unit from the rental market because the rental unit will become unfit for human habitation.
  • The landlord has rented or leased the entirety of a single rental unit during the landlord’s deployment by any United States Armed Forces, and once the deployment has been concluded, the landlord returns immediately to the rental unit as his or her residence that the landlord usually occupies for use during off-duty time.
  • The landlord is converting the rental unit(s) to a condominium in accordance with the Union City Municipal Code.
  • The landlord will, within sixty days, demolish the unit or remove it from the residential rental use or purpose for a minimum of five years (additional requirements apply if the landlord seeks to return to the residential rental market unit prior to the expiration of the five years).
  • The landlord, or one of the landlord’s parents or children will, within sixty days, move into the housing unit as his or her permanent residence no less than ten months of any calendar year, for no less than two years from the termination of the tenancy (additional requirements apply if the landlords seeks to return the unit to the residential rental market prior to the expiration of the two-year period).

Furthermore, under the Ordinance, if the landlord terminated the tenancy because the unit is being substantially rehabilitated, if the the unit is being removed from the rental market, or if the landlord or one of the landlord’s parents or children are moving into the unit (as stated in sections (f)(i) and (j) above) then tenant is entitled to the right to return to the unit. In this circumstance the landlord must inform the tenant upon termination of the tenancy of their right to receive an offer to return to the unit when the landlord returns the rental unit to the rental market. In order to receive an offer to return to the unit the tenant must also comply with certain requirements under the Ordinance (see section 5.50.040(f) of the Ordinance).

Lastly any notice of termination must specifically state the reason for the termination of the tenancy. Unlike the requirements found in similar ordinances in other jurisdictions, the Ordinance does not require the notice of termination to be filed with the City.

What specific anti-harassment or other activities are prohibited under the Ordinance?

 Section 5.50.050 of the Ordinance enumerates fifteen activities that are prohibited. Many of the listed activities are already prohibited by State law such as threatening the tenant with physical harm, failing to perform repairs or maintenance, and retaliating against the tenant for exercise of their rights under State or Federal law. Interestingly, the Ordinance prohibits the landlord from offering payment or any other consideration in return for the tenant(s) vacating the unit more often than every six months. This prohibition will may impact the ability to settle a case with a tenant who is engaging in ongoing lease violations.

 What additional notices must be provided to the tenant(s)?

The landlord must serve the tenant with a separate “Notice of Tenant Rights” in three predominant languages spoken in Union City. Each notice should include a proof of service and contain specific language required under the Ordinance. A copy of the Notice of Tenant Rights and Proof of Service can be found on the City’s website located at:

The Notice of Tenant Rights must be provided to the tenants within sixty days of the effective date of the Ordinance, when entering into a new lease, when renewing a lease, with a notice of termination, and when required by the City of Union city.

Additional Resources:

A copy of the Ordinance can be found at:

An informational handout can be found at:


NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice please contact an experienced attorney.