What units are covered by the Oakland Buyout Ordinance?
The Oakland Buyout Ordinance applies to all residential rental units in Oakland, except publicly owned or operated rentals.
What is my landlord required to do before approaching me about a buyout?
The Oakland Buyout Ordinance requires landlords to provide each tenant in a rental unit with a City approved form informing each tenant that, in part: (i) the tenant can refuse to participate buyout negotiations; (ii) the landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant for refusing to participate in buyout negotiations; (iii) following a tenant’s refusal to engage in buyout negotiations, repeated attempts to start buyout negotiations constitute harassment; (v) the tenant has twenty-five days to rescind a buyout, but can agree to a shorter period of not less than fifteen days; (vi) the tenant may be eligible for relocation payments; (vii) an owner who violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance may face penalties if the tenant is elderly, disabled, or catastrophically ill.
Your landlord must certify to the Rent Board that they provided each tenant with the required disclosure form. Additionally, your landlord must submit information about the rental property and prior buyout communications with any tenant in the building to the Rent Board.
Must a buyout agreement be in writing?
Yes. Every buyout agreement must be in writing.
Does my landlord have to translate my buyout agreement?
The landlord must provide tenants who only speak Spanish or Chinese a copy of the buyout agreement in the tenant’s language of proficiency.
Where parties conduct buyout negotiations in a non-English language, the landlord must provide a copy of the buyout agreement in the corresponding language.
What is my landlord required to put in the final written buyout agreement?
Every buyout agreement must include, in fourteen point type, specified language indicating: (i) that the tenant may cancel the agreement within twenty-five days, or fifteen by agreement, and the method to rescind; (ii) that the tenant has a right not to enter into a buyout; (iii) that if the tenant agrees to a buyout for less than they are entitled to by law, the agreement is voidable; (iv) that the owners who fail to comply with the Oakland Buyout Ordinance are subject to penalties if a tenant is elderly, disabled, or catastrophically ill; and, (v) that the owner must comply with certain requirements related to owner move-back, owner move-in, and Ellis Act evictions.
Can I rescind a buyout agreement?
Yes, provided all tenant signatories unanimously sign a document indicating an intent to rescind and the basis for the rescission. Further, tenants must return all buyout money. A tenant cannot rescind a buyout if they have already moved out of the unit.
How much time do I have to rescind a buyout agreement that does not comply with the Oakland Buyout Ordinance?
Six months. The tenant must inform the landlord that the buyout agreement does not comply with the Oakland Buyout Ordinance via a Notice of Noncompliance. The former landlord must offer the unit back to the tenant within five days of Notice of Noncompliance.
What are the penalties where a landlord violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance?
A tenant may file a civil lawsuit against a landlord who violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance for equitable relief, actual damages, or minimum damages. Additionally, the Ordinance provides for recovery of court costs and reasonable attorney fees in a civil action.
A landlord must pay an aggrieved tenant the greater of either actual damages or $500. Where the landlord willfully violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance, the penalty is the greater of triple the actual damages, or $1,000.
Elderly or disabled tenants are always entitled to triple actual damages or $1,000 for each violation. Where the landlord willfully violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance, the penalty is increased to $1,500 per violation.
Catastrophically ill tenants are entitled to triple actual damages or $1,500 per violation. Where the landlord willfully violates the Oakland Buyout Ordinance, the penalty is increased to $2,000 per violation.
If you feel you have a claim against a landlord for a violation of the Oakland Buyout Ordinance, you will want to speak with one of our tenant lawyers right away.
Tobener Ravenscroft LLP is a full-service tenants’ rights firm representing tenants. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, please consider legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact us.