On Tuesday, December 5, City Council unanimously approved some amendments to Oakland's Rent Regulations. These amendments will:
During the pandemic, tenants who were unable to pay rent were technically unable to file or respond to a petition with the Rent Adjustment Program (RAP). This meant that, if their landlord was refusing to make repairs, or even if their landlord was trying to illegally raise their rent, there was nothing the tenant could do. Led by OTU member and Rent Board Representative John deBoer, OTU pushed for over a year for this requirement to be removed, allowing more tenants to exercise their rights!
One reason tenants can file a petition is due to a decrease in housing services. If a landlord takes away something that a tenant previously had access to, like a storage space or a working laundry machine, the tenant could file a petition for a decrease in housing services to get their rent decreased. A tenant can file the petition at any point as long as the situation is still going on, but previously they were limited to three months’ of restitution, even if the problem had been happening for years. Now, tenants will be eligible for up to three years of restitution.
With the implementation of our new rental registry, more landlords are filing for exemption from the Rent Ordinance. Formerly, this meant that the property would be exempt forever. However, sometimes a property that would normally be exempt, like a single-family home, would start to be eligible for rent control — like if a landlord started renting out the rooms individually, or if a landlord builds an ADU. Now, tenants will be able to contest exemptions if circumstances change.
A change which can be good or bad, depending, is the change to appeal procedures. In the past, if an appellant failed to appear at the rent board appeal, their case was automatically dismissed. Now, the board can decide based on the record. This means that, if you are unable to make it to your appeal, you can still win, based on the evidence in the record – but so can your landlord. It is always better to appear at your appeal hearing if you can — but now it is possible to win even if you are unable to make it.