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Current & Ongoing Campaigns
Condo Conversion Reform Oakland has a condominium conversion ordinance that controls how property owners can legally convert rental apartment units into for-sale condominium homes in Oakland.
The current ordinance was adopted in 1981 and is woefully out of date, overly complicated, easily abused, and leaves thousands of rental units at risk of conversion into condominiums.
Oakland Tenants Union advocates for major revisions to the ordinance in order to protect as many rental units as possible from being converted.
Cover units in two, three, and four unit buildings that are currently exempt
Extend protections currently available to designated "impact areas" to the whole city
Strengthen requirements for new unit replacement of converted rental units
Strengthen tenant protections and relocation provisions of the law
Seismic Retrofit Policy
The Oakland City Council is considering new legislation that would require seismic safety retrofits in thousands of "soft story" apartment buildings across the City.
Who will pay for these costs? Currently, the City is considering allowing landlords to pass along 70% of these costs to tenants.
Oakland Tenants Union advocates that seismic retrofit costs should not be charged to tenants. Why?
Landlords have a legal (and ethical) responsibility to deliver safe and habitable housing.
Landlords receive all financial benefits of seismic retrofits (like tax deductions and lower insurance premiums)
Tenants receive no financial benefits from seismic retrofits
The CA Tenant Protection Act of 2019 AB 1482 (Chiu), aka the CA Tenant Protection Act of 2019, was signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 8th, 2019 and will go into effect January 1st, 2020 as California's first statewide rent control law — albeit with numerous compromises including a somewhat weak version of eviction protections.
Here's what AB 1482 does:
establishes a rent cap of 5% per year, plus each area's Consumer Price Index (inflation rate) -- not to exceed 10%, max.
enacts "Just Cause" eviction protections; must permit tenant the opportunity to cure a violation prior to terminating the tenancy.
applies to all rentals 15 years after construction. (Modifies a part of Costa Hawkins by providing coverage to all units 16 years after construction — rather than the C-H fixed date of 1995 (1983 in Oakland; 1980 in Berkeley & San Francisco)
applies to all rentals except multi-unit rentals in specified dormitories and deed-restricted affordable housing.
applies to single-family home rentals only if 10 or more homes are owned by the same owner or corporation; otherwise, single-family home rentals are exempt.
for a continuing tenant, the rent amount on Jan 1, 2020, cannot exceed the rent that was in-place on March 15, 2019.
only one rent increase in a 12-month period.
Landlord must provide relocation payment equal to one month's rent if the tenant is evicted for other than a just cause fault by the tenant. The eviction is voided if landlord does not pay the relocation assistance amount.
establishes the "right of tenancy" when tenant has occupied its unit for a 12-month period, after which tenancy becomes month-to-month and can only be evicted for a "just cause."
requires the landlord to provide a listing of tenant's rights in a signed lease addendum at the beginning of a tenancy.
AB 1482 "sunsets" in 10 years unless extended by the Legislature
does not override stronger provisions of cities that have rent control programs in place.
UNFORTUNATELY, in cities or jurisdictions without rent control programs, unless landlords voluntarily comply, tenants would have to file in local courts to assure their rights.
Election 2018: Yes on Measure Y — Close the Loophole: Protect Oakland Renters from Eviction!
Oakland's Just Cause eviction law has been in place since 2003 and requires landlords to provide one of 11 specific "just cause" reasons for an eviction (like failure to pay rent, or major damage to the property), meaning a tenant cannot simply be evicted at the whim of their landlord. However, there was a serious loophole in the Just Cause law--in duplex and triplex rental buildings an owner could previously exempt all units in the building from Just Cause protections by claiming to live in one of the units. This loophole had been widely abused by landlords seeking to evict tenants who have done nothing wrong, and there are an estimated 8,000 Oakland tenants living in duplex and triplex units who are vulnerable to displacement as a result.
On November 6, 2018, Oakland voters approved Measure Y by a margin of 58.36%. The measure extends Just Cause eviction protections to the thousands of renters in duplexes and triplexes who currently face displacement for no reason, thus closing a frequently abused loophole in the laws that have protected renters for years.
Just Cause protections do not prevent landlords from evicting for themselves or a relative to reside in their property, or choosing who they rent to, or evicting for “good cause." Landlords who live in the same house or unit as their tenants continue to remain exempt under Measure Y, but the other tenants in the building are now protected.
Election 2018: Yes on Measure W — Anti-Homeless Trust Fund
The City of Oakland estimates that at least 5,000 buildings and properties in the City lie vacant or unused. These vacant properties negatively impact our community, attracting crime, blight and illegal dumping. In addition, vacant properties ineffectively take up space that can be better used for housing and other purposes, thereby reducing potential jobs and tax revenue for our community.
On November 6, 2018, Oakland voters approved the City of Oakland Measure W, the Oakland Vacant Property Tax Act, by a margin of 70.04 percent. The Vacant Property Tax Act establishes an annual tax of up to $6,000 on vacant parcels, buildings, and real property within the City of Oakland for 20 years, with exemptions for property owners who are low-income, senior citizens, non-profits, or demonstrate other forms of hardship or can demonstrate they are in the process of improving the property. A property is considered vacant if it “is in use less than fifty (50) days in a calendar year.
These tax funds will be used to provide services and programs to homeless people, reduce homelessness, and support the protection of existing housing and production of housing affordable to lower income households. In addition, no less than 25% of the tax funds must go towards remediating blight and illegal dumping. The Measure also establishes a Commission on Homelessness, composed of City residents, which may make recommendations on how to allocate the tax funds, and shall publish an annual report regarding how this tax has been implemented.
On February 5, 2018 the Oakland City Council expanded requirements for relocation payments to tenants who are subject to a "no fault" eviction from their rental unit, following sustained advocacy by OTU and housing rights allies. Under the new law, any tenant protected under the Just Cause for Eviction law must be compensated by the landlord in cases of "no fault" eviction including for "owner move-in" evictions. More here.
Protect Oakland Renters Ordinance (Measure JJ)
We passed Measure JJ with 75 percent of the vote on November 8, 2016. THANK YOU to everyone who pitched in to strengthen our renter protections, but our work is far from over!
Have you ever wondered why some Oakland renters are protected by rent control while others are left to the whims of their landlord? Or why your friends and family around the Bay Area and California may have no protection from impossible rent increases at all? The answer: Costa-Hawkins. The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (CA Civil Code Section 1954.50) was passed in the state legislature in 1996 by the real estate lobby to prevent California cities from protecting their tenants against unlimited rent increases. Under the Costa-Hawkins Act:
Cities like Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco cannot expand rent control protections to units built after their original rent control ordinance was established (so, in Oakland only buildings built before 1983 can be protected).
Even if a city establishes a new rent control ordinance (like Richmond did in 2016), the city cannot apply rent control to any building built after 1995.
No city can apply rent control to rented single-family houses, or condominium units, a huge loophole.
Rent-controlled units are subject to "vacancy de-control", meaning that every time a protected unit becomes vacant (including through eviction) the landlord can raise the rent for the next tenant as high as the market will allow.
There have been ongoing efforts by tenant movements to repeal Costa-Hawkins since it's passage. The most significant of these in recent years was Proposition 10, which made it to the ballot in 2018. Proposition 10 would have:
Given cities the right to establish or expand local rent control programs, the way local governments and voters see fit.
Paved the way for universal tenant protections by ending loophole exemptions for single-family and condominium units, and units in newer buildings.
Increased the supply of affordable rentals by allowing cities to cap rent increases for all rental units, even between move-ins.
Prop 10 failed to pass. Across the state, 40.57% of voters supported the proposition, while 59.43% opposed. Notably, in Alameda and San Francisco Counties, home to cities with existing rent regulations, a majority of voters supported Prop 10. In Los Angeles county, again where rent protections have been the norm for decades, the margin was less than 1 percent. This is to say that voters that live in communities that already benefit from rent protections understood that opening up the opportunity to strengthen and extend these protections could only continue to benefit them and the millions of California renters who are unprotected. Ultimately, the opposition outspent the YES campaign 3 to 1, leveraging the fact that the vast majority of Californians have never lived in rent protected communities to create a general sense of confusion around what would happen if Prop 10 were to pass.