What Housing Moratorium Means for Oakland’s Tenants and Landlords


The Housing State of Emergency adopted at the Oakland City Council’s Tuesday meeting went into effect immediately upon its passage.



The ordinance remains in force for 90 days, but can be extended by a vote of the council. 


Under the law, no covered tenant should get a rent increase above 1.7 percent. It is illegal for landlords to raise rents above 1.7 percent unless the landlord files for a “fair return” increase with the city’s Rent Adjustment Program.



These regulations do not apply to rental properties built after 1983. Such properties remain unregulated because of the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act. Tenant advocates are currently seeking to modify or repeal Costa-Hawkins.



If an owner applies to the rent program, the tenant will receive a letter directly from the city announcing a hearing with the landlord that the tenant can attend and make objections.



No Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase (1.7%) can be given to a tenant whose rent has already been increased within the last 12 months.



A tenant who receives an increase above 1.7 percent should forward a copy of the notice to the city’s Rent Adjustment Program, which will notify the landlord that the proposed increase is invalid and must be withdrawn.



Owners are not permitted to increase rents based on “substantial rehabilitation” of the rental property.



These rules also apply to tenants who live in duplexes and triplexes where the owner is an occupant. These units were formerly exempted from the city’s rent ordinance but are not exempt during the state of emergency.



Under the emergency ordinance, the city’s “Just Cause for Eviction” law, enacted by ballot, remains unchanged.



Any “Notice to Vacate” must cite a specific reason listed among the causes in the just cause for eviction ordinance. Under the law, there are 11 legitimate causes for eviction.



A “Notice to Vacate” that does not list a specific and justifiable “just cause” is invalid. A copy of the notice should be forwarded to the city’s Rent Adjustment Program.



All owners and renters should receive a letter from the city within the next few weeks detailing their rights and duties during the 90- day period.



The City of Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program is located at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 6th Floor, Oakland, 94612. The department can be reached by phone at (510) 238-3721.


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