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Oakland City Council Passes New Tenant Protections

Oakland City Council Passes New Tenant Protections

The Oakland City Council this week passed multiple updates to the city’s major tenant protection ordinances that will change how landlords handle rent increase, late fees, additional occupants, and more. The updates, which were first introduced in April and slightly amended since, mostly affect the following sections of the Oakland Municipal Code:

  • Residential Rent Adjustment Program (OMC 8.22, Article I)
  • Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance (OMC 8.22, Article II)
  • Tenant Protection Ordinance (OMC 8.22, Article V)

Changes to the Residential Rent Adjustment Program

  • Updates the maximum rent increase allowed in any one year to conform to state the state cap of 5% + CPI, from AB 1482, as opposed to Oakland’s former 10% cap.
    • Note: In most cases, Oakland landlords with units subject to the Rent Adjustment Program will be limited to the annual adjustment, which is a more restrictive form of rent control than the state law. Opportunities to increase rent in excess of the annual adjustment continue to include:
      • Capital improvement passthroughs
      • Banked rent increases
      • Uninsured repair costs
      • Increased housing service costs
      • Fair return requirements
  • Allows rent increases of up to 5% for each additional occupant over the “base occupancy level,” which for units that had initial rent established before June 16, 2020, is defined as the greater of:
    • The number of tenants occupying the covered unit as principal residence as of June 16, 2020, with the owner’s knowledge, or;
    • The number of tenants allowed by the lease or rental agreement effective as of June 16, 2020
  • For units with initial rent established on June 17, 2020, or later, “base occupancy level” means the number of tenants allowed by the lease or rental agreement entered into at the beginning of the current tenancy
  • Such rent increases are prohibited when the additional occupant is the spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, foster child, or grandchild of an existing tenant, or the legal guardian of an existing tenant’s child or grandchild who resides in the unit, or a caretaker/attendant as required for a reasonable accommodation for an occupant with a disability.

Changes to the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance

  • Prohibits landlords from evicting tenants based on additional occupants if the landlord unreasonably refused the tenant’s written request to add additional occupant or fails to reply to the request within 14 days
  • Overrides any occupancy limits set in the rental agreement with the following (unless state law and/or other local codes such as the Building, Fire, Housing and Planning Codes call for less):
    • 2 persons in a studio unit
    • 3 persons in a one-bedroom unit
    • 4 persons in a two-bedroom unit
    • 6 persons in a three-bedroom unit
    • 8 persons in a four-bedroom unit
  • New written notice requirements and timeline for recovery of possession based on subletting or occupancy limits
  • Makes landlord’s failure to pay required relocation benefits an affirmative defense to an eviction action

Changes to the Tenant Protection Ordinance

  • Limits late fees to 3% of the rent and prohibits unilateral changes to the terms of the tenancy
  • Removes 15-year exemption for ground-up new construction
    • Note: While the Tenant Protection Ordinance already applied to units not subject to the Rent Adjustment Program or Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, new construction was previously exempt.
  • Removes exemption for nonprofit owned rental housing
  • Further defines landlord harassment and tenant’s privacy rights

Read the full text of the updates here.

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