Tonight, the Oakland City Council votes to adopt an ordinance to amend the 2018-2019 Master Fee Schedule to increase RAP service fees from $68 to $101 per unit, with an emphasis on shifting from a passive to active enforcement model for laws and regulations under its control.
As some may recall, the fee was already increased in 2016 from $30 to $68 per unit, which allowed the program to cover its existing costs at the time, increase headcount, and begin the development of a new case management database. The latest RAP Annual Report, however, notes that, “the increase has not been adequate to provide for sufficient staffing to address backlogs” and that “additional features are needed to increase efficiency and improve public access [to the database].”
The report also emphasizes the city’s interest in increasing the “collection and analysis of data on evictions, owner move-in’s, and other areas [which] has been stymied by lack of sufficient resources and database limitations.” This increase in the use of data is part of a greater mandate to move toward a more active enforcement model, which in addition to increased tenant outreach, mediation, and dispute resolution, also includes tracking and maintaining tighter records of compliance when it comes to initial rent and eviction proceedings.
To understand how the new $101 fee compares to other cities with similar programs, the city has provided the following data:
What does this mean for owners of rental units? While we can hope that the increased headcount will help cut down the backlog and delays surrounding petitions, hearings, and appeals, it also means any petition you do make is going to have to be stronger than ever with the city’s new emphasis on data collection. It’s more important than ever that you are in complete compliance with all required notices and have the records to prove it. Even if you are not considering any rent increases or evictions at the moment, you do not want to be caught off-guard when you find yourself in need of such measures. Being a prepared landlord upfront will save you time and money in the long-run.