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 by the state legislature in 1995 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 extend rent control protections to units built after their original rent control ordinance was established (so, in Oakland only units in 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.
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 as high as the market will allow.
Today, a statewide coalition of housing rights advocates including OTU is working to repeal Costa-Hawkins and give cities the right to protect tenants from the whims of the real estate market. Following the failure of a repeal bill in Sacramento, the only way to achieve real rent control in California will be the November 2018 statewide ballot. Housing advocates are collecting signatures right now to place a simple measure on the ballot that would repeal Costa-Hawkins and leave it to cities to decide whether, and how, to protect their residents from sky-rocketing rents.
A repeal of Costa-Hawkins would:
Give cities the right to establish or expand local rent stabilization programs, the way local governments and voters see fit.
Pave the way for universal tenant protections by ending rent control exemptions for single-family and condominium units, and units in newer buildings.
Provide tenants with more affordable housing options and flexibility by allowing cities to keep rent increases reasonable for all units available on the market, even when the previous tenant has vacated.
To find out how you can help repeal Costa-Hawkins in 2018, see more about theBay Area campaign here. You can stay plugged in with Oakland Tenants Union's repeal efforts on our OTU facebook page too.
For more information about Costa-Hawkins and why it's so important to renters, learn more here.
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
Universal Relocation Payments Ordinance
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!