Oakland Rent Control
Am I covered by Oakland Rent Control?
The Oakland Residential Rent Adjustment Program applies to all rental units in Oakland with the following exceptions:
- Dwelling units in subsidized housing, including units where tenants are using Section 8 vouchers;
- Motels and boarding houses where the tenant has not been in continuous residence for thirty or more days;
- Hospitals, convents, monasteries, convalescent homes, or college dormitories;
- Nonprofit cooperatives owned, operated, and controlled by a majority of the residents;
- Substantially rehabilitated buildings where the Owner applied for a certification of exemption from the Rent Adjustment Program prior to October 20, 2017, and the certification was granted.
- Dwelling units exempt pursuant to the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (California Civil Code § 1954.52), such as most single-family homes, and condominiums which have been sold individually.
- Rental units which are newly constructed and received a certificate of occupancy after January 1, 1983, including rental units built within older buildings that were formerly entirely non-residential.
What can I do to prove that I am covered by the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program?
At the beginning of a tenancy, landlords are required to provide a Notice to Tenants of the Residential Rent Adjustment Program (RAP notice). Tenants may file a petition with the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program Program to determine whether they are covered by the Rent Ordinance.
How much can a landlord increase the rent on a rent-controlled unit?
For a unit covered under the Oakland Rent Control 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). 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 can contest an illegal rent increase within ninety days of receipt of notice. If the landlord’s notice is in excess of the CPI and allowable banked increases, and has not be approved by the rent adjustment program, it is unenforceable. However, failing to pay any rent increase can result in the landlord attempting to evict you.
How often can my rent be increased?
With the exceptions of several rare circumstances, an owner whose property is covered by the Rent Adjustment Ordinance may only increase the rent once in a twelve-month period.
Can the landlord increase the rent by more than the allowable amount?
Landlords can increase rent in excess of the CPI based on the following:
- 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).
Owners must file a petition with RAP requesting approval for any increase not based on CPI or banking.
What petitions can a tenant file with the Oakland Rent Board?
- Petition to Challenge Rent Increase – Tenants have ninety days to file petitions contesting rent increases if a RAP notice was served with the rent increase notice or one hundred twenty days if no RAP notice was served with the rent increase notice. If a tenant was not given a RAP notice at the beginning of their tenancy, the tenant can challenge a rent increase up to ninety days from the date that the tenant receives the RAP notice.
- 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.
There are several less-common petitions a tenant may file as well, such as a petition challenging a landlord’s certification of exemption, or a petition asserting that the tenant’s initial rent was set in violation of the Costa-Hawkins Rental Act.
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, 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 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 December 31, 1995, 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:
- Failure to pay rent;
- Breach of lease, with the exception of subletting clauses under certain situations;
- Failure to sign a lease extension that is materially the same as the original lease;
- Willful and substantial damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, that the tenant refused to correct after a written notice;
- Disorderly conduct that destroys the peace and quiet of other tenants;
- Use of the premises for an illegal purpose including the manufacture, sale, or use of illegal drugs;
- Continued denial of landlord access in violation of Civil Code section 1954;
- 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;
- 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;
- Temporary relocation for up to three months for substantial repairs that cannot be completed with the tenant present, and which are required for the health and safety of the tenants, or to correct a notice of violation from the city; and
- The owner of record seeks to permanently remove the unit from the housing market (also known as an Ellis Act eviction).
Can I replace 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 “unreasonably” withhold the right to replace a roommate, provided that the remaining tenant makes a written request. Even if the lease prohibits subleasing, a landlord cannot arbitrarily deny a tenant the right to replace a roommate. If the landlord fails to respond to the tenant in writing within fourteen days of receipt of the tenant’s written request, the tenant’s request likely will 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 and has been residing in the unit for five years
However, these protections do not apply where the landlord’s qualified relative is sixty years old or older, disabled, or catastrophically ill, and all units owned by the landlord 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. Furthermore, a landlord can only do one owner or relative move-in eviction in Oakland every three years.
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 must file a notice with the Rent Adjustment Program documenting the claim of protected status. If the landlord contests the protected status, the landlord must file an objection with the Rent Adjustment Program 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 for an Ellis Act eviction or Owner-Move-in Eviction?
Yes. Relocation payments are required for all Ellis Act evictions, owner/relative move-in evictions, and temporary evictions for substantial repairs. Units with occupancy of at least two years are entitled to payment of the full relocation amount listed below. Tenancies with occupancies of one to two years are entitled to payment of two-thirds of the specified amounts. Tenancies with occupancies of less than one year are entitled to payment of one-third of the specified amounts.
- $6,876 for studio/one bedroom
- $8,462 for two bedrooms
- $10,445 for three or more bedrooms
Beginning July 1, 2019, the above relocation allowances will increase to:
- $7,116 for studio/one bedroom
- $8,758 for two bedrooms
- $10,810 for three or more bedrooms
These relocation allowances increase each July 1st in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Landlords must provide an additional $2,500 for the following reasons:
- A tenant is disabled
- A tenant is a senior citizen (age 62 and over)
- A tenant has minor children
- A tenant is “lower income” as defined by the California Health and Safety Code. CAL. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE § 50079.5
This additional $2,500 payment is to be split between the tenants who meet one of the above criteria.
If a tenant is displaced temporarily for the landlord to make repairs, the above payments function as caps. For temporarily relocation, the landlord must provide the tenant with a payment that covers actual and reasonable moving expenses as well as temporary housing costs. While these payments function as statutory caps, if you are displaced due to the condition of your rental unit, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your landlord in which you could be entitled to substantially more money. 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.
For additional information, please contact one of our Oakland tenant lawyers.