Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the Below Market Rate (BMR) Rental Housing Program?
A: Berkeley’s BMR program includes privately-owned affordable rental apartments created through the Inclusionary Housing (IHO) (BMC 23C.12) and Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee (AHMF) (BMC 22.20.065) ordinances. This program regulates apartments with affordable rents set at fixed “below market” rates within market-rate developments. 


Q: Do you accept Housing Choice vouchers (Section 8)?
A: Yes, we welcome holders of Section 8 vouchers. You may make a note of that in your application.


Q: Do I need to make a certain amount of money to live in a BMR unit?
A: Yes, your household income must be at or below the maximum income limit that the City of Berkeley publishes each year. The allowable income for each BMR apartment is set individually each year according to the applicable ordinance, the size of the unit, and the level of affordability required. In addition, each property may have additional requirements that are explained to the applicant during the application/lease up process. The property owner imposes a minimum income requirement. The resident's gross income must be at least 3 times the rent amount (i.e. if the monthly rent is $1,000, the resident's monthly income needs to be at least $3,000).
 

Q: What are the updated 2019 before-tax income guidelines?
A: The combined household income can not exceed the following if you live in one of these apartments:

  • Studio: $43,400
  • 2 bedroom: $55,800
  • 3 bedroom: $61,950
  • 4 bedroom: $66,950



Q: Is there a minimum number of people who can live in my apartment?
A: Yes, there is a minimum per the ordinance:

  • Studio: 1 person minimum
  • 2 bedroom: 2 person minimum
  • 3 bedroom: 4 person minimum
  • 4 bedroom: 5 person minimum



Q: What are the important dates?
A: There are 4 important dates:

  • September 29: Last day applications are accepted
  • October 4: Lottery is held, residents are selected and will be notified via email
  • October 18: City of Berkeley verifies applicants' eligibility
  • November 1: Lease begins, residents move in



Q: What criteria do I need to meet to be eligible?
A: You must meet all of the following:

  • Reside in the BMR unit at least 10 months of the year as the household's permanent, sole residence.
  • Occupy the unit as his/her sole, permanent residence within 60 days of lease execution.
  • Have no ownership interest in any residence, either as an investment or alternate residence.
  • Have a member of the household who is legally able to execute contracts (i.e., is at least 18 years old).
  • Document that the Head of Household, including full-time students, cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax returns.
  • Demonstrate that no employment relationship with the property owner or property management company exists. 



Q: Who pays for utilities?
A: Residents pay for their own utilities. Utilities include, but are not limited to, electricity, gas, water/sewer and garbage. 


Q: What documentation will I need to qualify?
A: Every household member's income must be included and documented.  Documentation includes:

  • Completed Tenant Approval Form
  • 3 most recent pay stubs
  • Other non-wage income as listed on the Source Documentation Form
  • Most recent tax return
  • Most recent W-2
  • If, within the last year, the applicant was a dependent of someone else, provide the most recent tax return of that other person (not necessary for foreign tax returns)
  • If applicant was recently someone else's dependent, provide a signed statement from that person stating the amount of the financial assistance within the last 12 months and how much will be provided within the next 12 months
  • 2 months of the most recent bank statements
  • Letters of explanation for unusual circumstances.
  • Additional documentation as requested by the City to clarify or confirm information. 



Q: What are the rents and will my landlord be able to raise the rents even if it is an affordable unit?
A: Owners set rents according to the rent limits provided by the City of Berkeley. Both the income and rent limits are updated annually. Rents vary according to unit size, the City ordinance that applied when the building was built, and the level of affordability required. Owners are allowed to increase rents once a year on the lease anniversary date. Owners are required to provide a minimum 30-day notice of rent increase.

 
Q: I am a full-time student. Can I live in a BMR unit?
A: Yes, a full-time student may live in a BMR unit as long as the student meets all the following eligibility requirements:

  • They are at least 18 years old.
  • They have established a household separate from their parents or legal guardians for at least one year prior to applying for a BMR unit.
  • They are not claimed as a dependent by their parents or legal guardians pursuant to IRS regulations.
Each student who occupies a BMR unit must meet all three requirements above, including a situation where you have several students living together. Each student must meet the three requirements.



Q: How do I apply for BMR housing?
A: Go to PanoramicBerkeley.com and complete the application online.
 

Q: Are your apartments accessible?
A: Yes.
 

Q: Do you allow pets?
A: No.


Q: Can I apply for housing if I have been evicted, or have a felony?
A: Panoramic accepts all applications for housing. However, we must assess for evictions and felonies, case by case. 


Q: Can I apply for multiple units?
A: Yes


Q: How long is the lease?
A: 12 months.


Q: What about my credit score?
A: Your credit score and history will be evaluated the same way we evaluate market rate apartments. It is case by case. 


Q: Should I submit my application in person?
A: No, applications are only accepted online at PanoramicBerkeley.com