Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance
- What is the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance?
The Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance was enacted in 2002 and established the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program, which administers landlord/tenant disputes in the city of Oakland. Over the last twenty years, it has gone on to add sections limiting allowable rent increases (rent control), requiring just cause for eviction, relocation payments for no-fault evictions, regulations for buyout agreements, and other tenant protections. You can learn more about the reasons for its adoption in Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.010.
- Does my rental unit qualify for rent control under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance?
A landlord may not increase the rent more than once per year and that increase is limited to the published increase in the Consumer Price Index for Oakland’s geographic region or 10%, whichever is less. There are some situations where the rent can be increased more than this amount, such as when a landlord can show that a greater increase is necessary to earn a reasonable return or has banked increases from previous years, but no series of rent increases may increase the rent by more than 30% in a five-year period. There are several exceptions to the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance. If you can say “No,” to all of the following questions, then your rental unit is covered by Oakland’s rent control law:
- Is your unit controlled, regulated, or subsidized by a governmental agency?
- Is your unit part of a hotel, motel, inn, tourist, rooming or boarding house, and if so, have you lived there for less than thirty continuous days?
- Is your unit part of a hospital, convent, monastery, extended care facility, convalescent home, nonprofit home for the aged, or a school dormitory?
- Is your unit owned by a nonprofit co-operative?
- Was the building in which your rental unit is located built on or after January 1, 1983?
- Did your unit receive an exemption from the Rent Adjustment Program after receiving substantial rehabilitation?
- Is your unit a single-family home or dwelling that could be sold independent of any other rental unit?
You may consult Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.030 for the current list of exempt rental units and Section 8.22.070 for details about the limits imposed by rent control.
- Does my landlord need just cause for eviction to evict me under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance?
Oakland voters passed a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance in 2002. It has its own exemptions that are different from those for rent-controlled units. If you can answer “No,” to all of the following questions, then you qualify for just cause for eviction protections:
- Do you live in a hotel, motel, or other transient accommodation?
- Do you live in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or health facility?
- Do you live at a nonprofit facility that provides short-term housing as part of a drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse rehabilitation program that informed you of the temporary status of your housing when you moved in?
- Do you live at a nonprofit facility that provides independent living skills training limited to twenty-four months or less of occupancy and informed you of this limitation when you moved in?
- Does your landlord live on the same property as you and share kitchen or bathroom facilities with you?
- Is your unit held in trust for a developmentally disabled person who lives on the property or is the unit owned by a person related to a developmentally disabled person who lives at the property?
- Did the unit or the building of which it is a part receive a certificate of occupancy, or if there was no certificate, was the date the last construction permit for the property was finalized after December 31, 1995?
The exemptions above are contained in Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.350.
- What are the just causes for eviction in Oakland?
You can find just causes for eviction in Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.360.
Answering yes to any of these questions means you may be subject to a Fault Just Cause eviction in Oakland.
- Have you failed to pay rent for three days after receiving a notice to do so without a legal reason to withhold rent?
- Have you continued to breach a term of the lease after receiving a notice to stop doing so?
- Have you refused to extend or renew your rental agreement on similar terms after your previous agreement expired?
- Have you damaged rental property and either refused to stop damaging property, or repair or pay for repairs to the damaged property after receiving a notice to do so?
- Have you continued to be disorderly in a way that disrupts the peace and quiet of other tenants after being told to stop doing so?
- Have you used your rental unit or common areas for an illegal purpose?
- Have you refused to allow the landlord access to your rental unit after receiving a notice to stop refusing the landlord lawful entry?
Answering yes to any of these questions means you may be subject to a No Fault Just Cause eviction in Oakland.
- Is the landlord attempting to retake possession of your rental unit because it was once their home and they now wish to move back in, and had a term in their lease allowing them to do so?
- Is the landlord planning to move in or move a spouse, child, parent, or grandparent into the unit?
- Is the landlord planning to perform necessary renovations that cannot be safely completed with you remaining in the unit?
- Is the owner removing the property from the rental market?
- Will I receive relocation payments if my landlord evicts me for just cause under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance?
You are entitled to relocation assistance for evictions based on no fault just cause. These payments vary depending on the size of the unit and whether any tenants are disabled, elderly or acting as the guardian of a minor child. Section 8.22.820 covers relocation benefits for no fault just cause evictions generally, including for evictions based on removal of a rental unit from the rental market under the Ellis Act. Section 8.22.850 covers relocation payments specifically for owner move in evictions.
- Does the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance prohibit landlord harassment?
The Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance includes a prohibition against tenant harassment. As described in Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.640, a landlord or a landlord’s employees, agents, or contractors may not do any of the following in bad faith:
- Interrupt, terminate, or fail to provide housing services promised in a contract or required by law;
- Fail to provide repairs or maintenance promised by contract or required by law;
- Fail to complete work once started or fail to follow proper practices to minimize exposure to noise, lead, mold, asbestos, or other building materials harmful to your health;
- Abuse the landlord’s right of access;
- Remove personal property or furnishings from the rental unit without a tenant’s written permission unless the tenancy has already been terminated;
- Influence or attempt to influence a tenant to give up possession of a rental unit, using fraud, intimidation, or coercion, including threatening to disclose a tenant or person known by the owner to be associated with the tenant to local, state, or federal agency on the basis of their perceived or actual immigration status;
- Accompany an offer of payment to vacate with threats of force or intimidation;
- Offer payment to a tenant to vacate more than once in a six-month period;
- Threaten a tenant or guests of a tenant through words or gestures with harm;
- Violate anti-discrimination laws;
- Interfere with a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment;
- Refuse to accept a lawful rent payment;
- Refuse to cash a rent payment for over thirty days without providing a receipt;
- Interfere with a tenant’s right to privacy, including video or audio recording of the interior of the tenant’s unit, entering or photographing a unit outside the scope of a lawful entry or inspection, unreasonable inquiries about tenant’s relationship status, criminal history, or overnight guests;
- Request information that interferes with a tenant’s right to privacy such as residence or citizenship status, or social security number, including refusal to accept proof of qualification for tenancy such as a TIN or other alternatives that do not relate to citizenship or immigration status;
- Require a tenant to accept new or material terms or a new rental agreement except as allowed by law;
- Remove housing services to cause a tenant to vacate;
- Engage in a self-help eviction such as through changing locks or shutting off utilities;
- Misrepresent to a tenant that the tenant must leave the rental unit; or
- Commit elder financial abuse.
The Tenant Protection Ordinance includes several serious penalties for landlords who violate its prohibitions:
- A landlord who violates the tenant harassment law in any way is liable to the harassed tenant for an award of $1,000 or tripling of actual damages including emotional distress, whichever is greater. However, to receive tripling of emotional damages, the tenant must show the landlord acted in knowing violation or reckless disregard of the Tenant Protection Ordinance.
- If the tenant was elderly or disabled, the minimum damages is $2,000.00 and no showing of knowing violation or reckless disregard is required.
- If the tenant is catastrophically ill, the minimum damages award is $2,500.00 and no showing of knowing violation or reckless disregard is required.
- If the landlord threatens to disclose a tenant’s immigration status, the landlord is subject to triple actual damages, including emotional distress damages, or a minimum damages award of $2,000.00.
- A court may also award punitive damages but may not do so along with tripling actual damages.
- A prevailing tenant is entitled to attorney’s fees.
- A prevailing landlord may recover attorney’s fees if the tenant’s claim lacked merit or was brought in bad faith.
You may review Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.670 for further details.
- What are my remedies under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance if my landlord improperly raises my rent?
If your landlord raises your rent beyond the amount permitted by the Rent Adjustment Ordinance, you may file a petition with the Rent Adjustment Board. You must state the reason the rent increase is too high, which may simply be because it has been miscalculated but could also be because there was improper notice, or a reduction in housing services. You may consult Oakland Municipal Code section 8.22.070 for additional details.
- What are my remedies under the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance if my landlord evicts me without just cause?
If you are forced to move out of a rent-controlled unit, then you may sue your landlord for what is referred to as wrongful eviction and demand rent differential or loss of use. This amount is the difference between the current fair market monthly rental rate for your unit and the monthly rent you were paying at the time of the eviction without just cause multiplied by the number of months you would have stayed in the rental unit if you had not been wrongfully evicted. If you are elderly or have a disability, you may also claim triple the amount in damages if you can show that your landlord acted with intentional disregard of the fact you were disabled or elderly and would suffer from the loss of your home. The Tenant Protection Ordinance has several special categories of damages that may apply if the landlord violated the tenant harassment provisions of the Tenant Protection Ordinance as part of the unlawful eviction attempt.