The Rental Housing Fee funds the Rent Program, the Agency responsible for enforcement of the Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction, and Homeowner Protection Ordinance (Rent Ordinance), approved by Richmond voters in November 2016 and codified in Section 11.100 of the Richmond Municipal Code.
The Rent Program offers the following services to community members (this list is not exhaustive; the tasks below are identified for illustrative purposes only):
- Public education and outreach: Community workshops centered around commonly experienced Landlord/Tenant issues are held one Saturday each month.
- Counseling sessions: The Rent Program office is open Monday-Friday, from 9 AM - 4 PM (excluding the lunch hour between 12 PM and 1 PM) for phone, walk-in, and email counseling.
- Mediation services: Professional mediation services between Landlords and Tenants with respect to Landlord/Tenant issues that implicate the Rent Ordinance
- Referrals to Free Legal Consultations: Legal services referrals to community services agencies for qualifying Richmond Tenants and Landlords to provide legal assistance, which includes legal advice.
- Petition process for rent increases and decreases: Administration of the Rent Adjustment Petition process for Tenants seeking a rent decrease (due to habitability problems or a reduction in services, for example) and Landlords seeking a rent increase to ensure their ability to receive a fair return.
- Referrals to other City services: Ensures that Richmond residents and community members who seek services from City Departments are connected with the correct Department
- Ensuring consistent enforcement: The Rent Program ensures consistent enforcement of the Rent Ordinance with the goal of educating community members to provide community stability, healthy housing, and affordability in the City of Richmond.
The Rental Housing Fee also funds administrative functions of the Rent Program, including, but not limited to:
- Departmental administration and management
- Legal defense of the Rent Ordinance and Departmental policies
- Preparing studies, regulations, and reports as directed by the Rent Board
- Administration of Property Enrollment and Tenancy Registration processes and tracking of the Maximum Allowable Rent
- Database development and maintenance
- Billing and collection of the Rental Housing Fee
- Website maintenance
- Development of informational materials and notice templates
- Interdepartmental coordination
- Processing of termination of tenancy, rent increase, and change in terms of tenancy notices filed with the Rent Board as required by the Rent Ordinance
For more information about how the amount of the Rental Housing Fee is determined, please see the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget and Rental Housing Fee Study, approved by the Rent Board on March 20, 2019.