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You do not have to move out. During the pandemic, millions of people across the country have been unable to make rent. While your landlord may be harassing you and threatening with eviction, you have rights.

You have multiple layers of protection from eviction. According to our local moratoriums, if you are unable to pay rent because you were financially impacted by the pandemic, you can never be evicted for that unpaid rent.

State law has created some confusion by requiring tenants to pay a portion of their rent in order to be protected from eviction. We still don’t know exactly how state, local and federal laws will play out together in court, and we are fighting every day for the best protections possible.

Under our local moratoriums, the rent that you are unable to pay will be converted into consumer debt. Your landlord can take you to small claims court to collect that debt, but cannot evict you for it. We are fighting to pressure state and federal legislators to free tenants from rent debt accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are also a few Rental Assistance Programs available to tenants in California and Oakland. More information below.

How can I protect myself from eviction if I can’t pay my full rent?

  1. Send your landlord a Declaration of Financial Distress notifying them that you are unable to pay rent due to COVID-19 Impact.
    • You can send this even if you have not received an eviction notice from your landlord
    • Use this template, which tells your landlord that this declaration does not give up any rights you have under local laws
    • Keep a copy: After you have signed the declaration, photocopy or take a picture of the signed declaration.
    • Deliver the declaration by mail or in person. If you have received a 15-day notice with an email address on it, you can deliver via email– otherwise, you need to deliver a paper copy of the declaration. Many of the Oakland Public Libraries also offer printing.
    • Keep proof of mailing or delivery: You can send the declaration certified with return receipt, and keep a copy of your mailing receipt. If you deliver by hand, bring a witness or take a video of yourself using your phone.
  2. If you receive 15-day notice, respond with the Declaration of Financial Distress and ask your landlord to rescind the notice. You can inform your landlord that this is not a valid eviction notice and is in violation of Oakland and Alameda law. If your landlord continues to serve you invalid eviction notices, you can inform your landlord that this constitutes harassment. This Cover Letter provides great legal language. Please note that it references AB 3088, a state law passed in 2020 that will likely change in early 2021. Check Centro Legal’s COVID-19 page or come to our Know Your Rights workshops on Evictions for updates.
  3. Keep proof of how your income has been impacted by COVID-19. This might include pay stubs, bank statements, receipts for healthcare or childcare expenses, or a letter from your employer.
  4. Keep a journal of interactions with your landlord, and respond to any incidences of harassment. We know that many landlords are harassing and intimidating their tenants during the pandemic. This harassment is illegal. If you are experiencing harassment, visit our Harassment page for more support.

Rental Assistance
Oakland tenants can apply for rental assistance from Oakland and California relief funds.

Oakland tenants can apply at: https://hpp.bayareacs.org or call 510-899-9289. For questions: housingassistance@oaklandca.gov

California COVID-19 Rent Relief
California tenants can apply at https://housing.ca.gov/ or call 833-430-2122.

Alameda County Housing Secure Emergency Rental Assistance
Alameda county tenants who DO NOT live in Oakland and Fremont apply here and call 211 for assistance.

Come to our Know Your Rights Workshops to learn the latest legal updates and get involved.

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Most units in Oakland are covered by Just Cause. However, if you live in any of the following, then you ARE NOT covered by Oakland Just Cause.

  • A unit built after December 31st 1995 (If you're not sure, call the County Assessors and they can tell you very quickly) OR
  • You live in the same unit as your landlord, and you regularly share a kitchen or bathroom with the landlord, OR
  • A hospital, skilled nursing facility or healthcare facility OR
  • A nonprofit facility where the primary purpose is short-term treatment for drugs or alcohol, and you were told that the facility was temporary/transient when you moved in, OR
  • A nonprofit facility with a structured living environment where the primary purpose is to assist homeless folks in building skills for independent living, where occupancy is limited to a specific/limited time not greater than 24 months, and you were told that the facility was temporary/transient at the beginning

Effective May 1, 2018, the Oakland Tenant Move-out Ordinance (TMOO, O.M.C . 8.22.700 et seq.) states that landlords must do the following if they wish to offer a tenant compensation to vacate their rental unit:

1) The owner must file a Pre-Move Out Disclosure Certification Form with the Rent Adjustment Program prior to entering into Move Out Negotiations.
2) The owner must give a Disclosure Notice to the tenant prior to entering into Move Out Negotiations. The owner must also file the executed Move Out Agreement with the Rent Adjustment Program within 45 days of the tenant and landlord signing the Move Out Agreement.

Tenants also have these rights under the Move-out Ordinance:
1) The right to not accept - A tenant is not required to enter into a Move Out Agreement or engage in Move Out Negotiations, and:
-The landlord may not retaliate against a tenant for not accepting the offer. 
-Offering payments to a tenant to vacate more than once in six (6) months after the tenant has notified the owner in writing that the tenant refuses to enter into a Move Out Agreement or engage in Move Out Negotiations constitutes harassment under the Tenant Protection Ordinance.

2) The right to consult an attorney before entering into a Move Out Agreement or engaging in Move Out Negotiations.
3) The right to rescind - A tenant may cancel the Move Out Agreement at any time during the twenty-five (25) days after the agreement has been signed by both the landlord and tenant, unless the parties agree in writing to a shorter period of no less than fifteen (15) days . During this time, the tenant may cancel the Agreement as long as the tenant has not moved out, and the decision to cancel is agreed upon by tenants who are part of the Move Out Agreement.
4) Extended right to rescind within six months if the Move Out Agreement does not meet the specifications required under the Ordinance.
5) Relocation amounts for 2020-2021: Move out agreements must be for greater than the amount of the relocation payments to which the tenant may be entitled under Oakland, state, or federal law. The Uniform Relocation Ordinance requires owners provide tenants displaced by code compliance activities, owner or relative move-ins, the Ellis Act, and condominium conversions with relocation payments. The payment amount depends on the size of the unit and adjusts for inflation annually on July 1st. The base payment amounts until June 30, 2021 are:

$ 7,308.37 per studio/one bedroom unit
$8,994.92 per two bedroom unit
$11,103.10 per three or more bedroom unit

Tenant households in rental units that include lower income, elderly or disabled tenants, and/or minor children are entitled to a single additional relocation payment of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per unit from the owner.
6) Right to return: Tenants have an option or right to return to their Rental Unit after certain no-fault evictions, such as code compliance evictions after the repairs are completed or Ellis evictions if the units are re-rented. Waiver of these rights, if applicable, may make a Move Out Agreement more valuable.
7) Market rents may be much higher in your area and you may want to check rents for similar rental units before entering into a Move Out Agreement, particularly a Move Out Agreement that removes any options or rights to return to the rental unit that may exist for you.
8) Payments from a Move Out Agreement may be taxable. You should consult taxing authorities or a tax professional for more information or advice on taxability.
9) Public records: Move Out Agreements and documents related to Move Out Agreements that are submitted to the City may be public. The City may redact personal information to the extent possible. Parties of a Move Out Agreement should be notified that information may become public disclosure.

You are covered by Oakland Rent Control UNLESS you live in one of the following:

  1. Housing where your rent is subsidized and/or regulated by the government, including:
    1. A building managed by Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) or the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),
    2. A unit where your rent is subsidized by Section 8 or another government entity (even if the property is privately owned)
  2. A hotel, motel, inn, or boarding houses AND you have not occupied the unit for more than 30 days (if you have been there more than 30 continuous days, you ARE likely covered by rent control)
  3. A unit or room in a hospital, senior home, extended care facility, convent, monastery or school dormitory
  4. A unit or room in a non-profit cooperative owned, occupied & controlled by the residents
  5. A building built on or after January 1, 1983 (Don’t know? Call the County Assessors at 510-272-3787 and ask them to tell you the year the unit was built and the effective date),
  6. A substantially rehabilitated building, IF the owner applied for exemption to rent control before October 20, 2017, and received a certificate of exemption from rent control
  7. A single-family home or a condominium sold separately AND you moved in after 1995

Most tenants in Oakland are covered by the Tenant Protection Ordinance! However, if you live in any of the following, then you ARE NOT covered by the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) in Oakland.

  • A hospital, skilled nursing facility, or health facility
  • A nonprofit facility that has the primary purpose of providing short term treatment, assistance, or therapy for alcohol, drug, or other substance abuse, where you were been told in writing that the housing was temporary/transitional when you moved in
  • A nonprofit facility which provides a structured living environment that has the primary purpose of helping houseless people build independent living skills and obtain permanent housing and where occupancy is restricted to a limited and specific period of time of not more than twenty-four (24) months, and where you were told in writing that the housing was temporary/transitional when you moved in
  • A hotel or motel for less than one month

If you don't live in any of the above, then you ARE covered under TPO. Note: if you live in a building owned by a nonprofit, you ARE covered unless the facility meet one of the specific exemptions described above.