Updated April 1, 2013
Am I covered by Oakland Rent Control?
The Oakland Residential Rent Adjustment Program applies to buildings with two or more units in Oakland that have a certificate of occupancy prior to January 1, 1983.
However, the following units are not covered by the Oakland Rent Ordinance:
1. Dwelling units in subsidized housing, including units where tenants are using Section 8 vouchers;
2. Motels and boarding houses where the tenant has not been in continuous residence for thirty or more days;
3. Hospitals, convents, monasteries, convalescent homes, or college dormitories;
4. Nonprofit cooperatives owned by a majority of the residents;
6. Substantially rehabilitated buildings; and
7. Apartments in three-unit buildings where the landlord resides in the building and has occupied one of the units as his/her principal residence for at least a year.
What can I do to prove that I am covered by the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program?
Tenants may file a petition with the Rent Adjustment Program to determine whether they are covered by the Rent Ordinance.
For owner-occupied properties, when can the owner increase the rent?
The landlord in an owner-occupied building with three or fewer units may increase the rent after the landlord has lived in the building for at least one continuous year.
How much can a landlord increase the rent on a rent-controlled unit?
For a unit covered under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program where an original occupant still lives in the unit, the landlord may only increase the rent by the annual percent change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all Bay Area consumers. The landlord must provide a written rent increase notice with specific disclosures. If the landlord does not provide a formal written notice with disclosures, the rent increase is void. A tenant must contest an illegal rent increase within thirty days of receipt of notice. When the last original occupant has vacated the premises, the landlord may increase the rent in any amount at anytime at whim.
How often can my rent be increased?
An owner may only increase the rent once in a twelve-month period.
Can the landlord increase the rent by more than the allowable amount?
In addition to allowable rent increases, landlords can also add one or more of the following and thus raise the amount due:
- Banked Rent Increase. Where a landlord has not increased the rent each year by the allowable amount, the rent increase can be banked from prior years.
- Capital Improvement Increase. To a limited extent, a landlord may pass on the cost of capital improvements made to a unit.
- Increased Housing Service Costs (operating expenses).
- Uninsured Repair Cost (casualty loss).
- Constitutional Fair Return (profit from investment).
What petitions can a tenant file with the Oakland Rent Board?
- Petition to Challenge Rent Increase
- Decrease in Services. If a landlord takes away housing services or does not make major repairs, the tenant may file a petition for a decrease in rent. In general, this petition must be filed within sixty days of the decrease in services.
- Illegal Rent Increase
Can the landlord pass on Oakland Rent Control Program fees to a tenant?
A landlord may require a tenant to pay 50% of the annual, per-unit fee for units covered by the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program.
Which units have eviction protection in Oakland?
All residential rental units in Oakland are covered by the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance where the landlord attempts to evict after 2003, with the following exceptions:
- Rental units in any hospital, skilled nursing facility, or health facility;
- Rental units in a nonprofit facility that has the primary purpose of providing short-term treatment, assistance, or therapy for alcohol, drug, or other substance abuse and the housing is provided incident to the recovery program, and where the client has been informed in writing of the temporary or transitional nature of the housing at its inception;
- Rental units in a nonprofit facility which provides a structured living environment that has the primary purpose of helping homeless persons obtain the skills necessary for independent living in permanent housing and where occupancy is restricted to a limited and specific period of time of not more than twenty-four months and where the client has been informed in writing of the temporary or transitional nature of the housing at its inception;
- Rental units in a residential property where the owner of record occupies a unit in the same property as his or her principal residence and regularly shares in the use of kitchen or bath facilities with the tenants of such rental units. For purposes of this section, the term “owner of record” shall not include any person who claims a homeowner’s property tax exemption on any other real property in the State of California;
- A rental unit in a residential property that is divided into a maximum of three units, one of which is occupied by the owner of record as his or her principal residence. For purposes of this section, the term “owner of record” shall not include any person who claims a homeowner’s property tax exemption on any other real property in the State of California;
- A unit that is held in trust on behalf of a developmentally disabled individual who permanently occupies the unit, or a unit that is permanently occupied by a developmentally disabled parent, sibling, child, or grandparent of the owner of that unit; and
- Newly constructed rental units which are completed and offered for rent for the first time after the effective date of the initial Oakland Residential Rent, Relocation, and Arbitration Ordinance, provided that such new units were not created as a result of rehabilitation, improvement or conversion as opposed to new construction. (Ord. 12537 § 1 (part), 2003).
What are the just causes for eviction in Oakland?
Under the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, a landlord may only evict for the following eleven reasons:
1. Failure to pay rent;
2. Breach of lease;
3. Failure to sign a lease extension that is materially the same as the original lease;
4. Willful and substantial damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear;
5. Disorderly conduct that destroys the peace and quiet of other tenants;
6. Use of the premises for an illegal purpose including the manufacture, sale, or use of illegal drugs;
7. Continued denial of landlord access in violation of Civil Code section 1954;
8. The owner of record seeks in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with honest intent, to recover possession of the rental unit for his or her occupancy as a principal residence where he or she has previously occupied the rental unit as his or her principal residence and has the right to recover possession for his or her occupancy as a principal residence under a written rental agreement with the current tenants;
9. The owner of record seeks in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with honest intent, to recover possession for his or her own use and occupancy as his or her principal residence, or for the use and occupancy as a principal residence by the owner of record’s spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or grandparent;
10. Temporary relocation for three months for substantial repairs; and
11. The owner of record seeks to permanently remove the unit from the housing market (also known as an Ellis Act eviction).
Can I add a roommate in Oakland?
Under the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, a tenant is entitled to a one-on-one replacement of a roommate. A landlord cannot evict a tenant for moving in a replacement roommate, even if the lease prohibits subleasing. If the landlord fails to respond to the tenant in writing within fourteen days of receipt of the tenant’s written request to add a roommate, the tenant’s request shall be deemed approved by the landlord.
Who is protected from an owner/relative move-in eviction?
A landlord may not recover possession of a unit with a tenant in possession who is:
- sixty years or older and has been residing in the unit for five years;
- disabled within the meaning of Government Code § 12926 and has been residing in the unit for five years; or
- a catastrophically ill tenant, regardless of length of tenancy.
However, these protections do not apply where the landlord’s qualified relative is a protected tenant and all units in the building are occupied by protected tenants.
How do I prove that I am a protected tenant for purposes of an owner/relative move-in eviction?
A tenant who claims to be a member of one of the classes protected against an owner/relative move-in eviction must provide a statement with evidence to the landlord. A landlord may challenge a tenant’s claim of protected status by requesting a hearing with the Rent Board. In the Rent Board hearing, the tenant shall have the burden of proof to show protected status. No civil or criminal liability shall be imposed upon a landlord for challenging a tenant’s claim of protected status.
How many tenants can be removed from a building for owner/relative move-in?
Once a landlord has recovered possession of a rental unit for either the landlord’s use or the use of a relative, no other unit may be evicted for owner/relative move-in. Any future evictions taking place in the same building for an owner/relative move-in must be on that same unit.
What is required for a temporary eviction for substantial repairs?
Before evicting, the landlord must obtain all necessary permits from the City of Oakland. The eviction must be in good faith to undertake substantial repairs that cannot be completed while the unit is occupied, and the repairs must be necessary either to bring the property into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting health and safety of tenants of the building, or under an outstanding notice of code violations affecting the health and safety of tenants of the building.
The repairs must be made on time and without unreasonable delay. The tenant cannot be forced to vacate for more than three months. However, the three-month period may be extended by the Rent Board upon application by the landlord. Once the repairs are completed, the landlord must offer the unit back to the original tenant at the same rent.
When is an eviction illegal?
A landlord cannot endeavor to recover possession of a rental unit unless at least one of the just causes for eviction represents the landlord’s “dominant motive for recovering possession and the landlord acts in good faith in seeking to recover possession.” In any eviction action, a landlord must show that he/she intends to “recover possession of the unit with good faith, honest intent and with no ulterior motive.”
Under the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, all notices of termination must include (1) a statement setting forth the basis for the eviction; (2) a statement that “advice regarding the notice terminating tenancy is available from the Rent Board”; and (3) other specific requirements for owner move-in eviction and substantial repairs eviction.
What are the tenant’s remedies for wrongful eviction under the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance?
Whenever a landlord or anyone assisting a landlord wrongfully endeavors to recover possession or recovers possession of a rental unit in violation of the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, the tenant may institute a civil proceeding for injunctive relief, money damages of not less than three times actual damages (including damages for mental or emotional distress), and whatever other relief the court deems appropriate.
In the case of an award of damages for mental or emotional distress, said award shall only be tripled if the trier of fact finds that the landlord acted in either knowing violation or reckless disregard of the rent ordinance. The prevailing tenant shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to an order of the court. The remedies available shall be in addition to any other existing remedies which may be available to the tenant. Any violation of the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance entitles the aggrieved tenant to actual damages according to proof and costs and attorney’s fees.
What are the protections for an Ellis Act eviction under the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance?
All tenants must be given a minimum 120-day notice. A tenant who is disabled within the meaning of Government Code § 12955.3 and who has resided in the unit for more than one year is entitled to a minimum one-year notice. A tenant who is over the age of sixty-two is also entitled to a one-year notice. These protections apply to both the original leaseholder and subsequent occupants.
Any disabled or elderly tenant must give notice to the landlord of his/her protected-tenant status within sixty days of any eviction notice.
Within thirty days of receipt of the tenant’s request for the one-year extension, the landlord has thirty days to file a notice with the Rent Board objecting to the request for an extension. If the landlord contests the protected status, the landlord must file an objection with the Rent Board within fifteen days after a tenant claims status as elderly or disabled. The tenant must respond to any landlord request for information within thirty days. The landlord must keep the documents submitted by any tenant confidential.
Am I entitled to relocation benefits under the Ellis Act?
Tenant households whose income is less than that defined by Health and Safety Code § 50079.5 are entitled to moving allowance. The relocation payment is two months of the tenant’s rent. The tenant has sixty days to request a moving allowance. The owner must make the relocation payment within fifteen days of the tenant’s request. Any landlord who fails to pay the relocation payment is liable to pay the tenant’s attorney fees, plus a penalty of three times the amount of the original relocation payments.
Am I entitled to moving allowance for an owner/relative move-in eviction?
Am I entitled to moving allowance for a demolition or substantial repairs eviction?
A low-income tenant is eligible for relocation benefits when displaced from a unit due to City code-enforcement actions. All tenants are entitled to relocation payments where the City (a) issues a notice of order to vacate the unit; (b) issues a notice to abate life-threatening conditions in the unit; or (c) declares the unit substandard or a public nuisance.
If the displacement is for sixty days or longer, the tenant is entitled to two times the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Fair Market Rent, plus a one-time payment of $200.
In addition, a displaced tenant has the option of moving back into the same unit or a comparable unit in the same building as soon as the unit is ready for re-occupancy. The owner must notify a displaced tenant, by certified mail, at least thirty days in advance of the availability of the unit. The displaced tenant must keep the owner informed of their current address while they are displaced, and must notify the owner of their intention to move back within seven days of receiving notice of the unit’s availability.