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We support Black and Brown communities in Oakland through Know Your Rights workshops, anchored in a Serve The People Model. Through this model tenants are encouraged to organize and take action against illegal evictions, harassment, rent increases and enforcing repairs. We know that protections for tenants expand when we are self determined and proactive in fighting to stay in our homes. By learning about existing tenant laws and protections, as well as fighting collectively with our neighbors, we move power back in our communities in face of displacement here in Oakland.

Learn more about the powerful Serve the People Model that we use to support tenants with their housing issues while continuing to build tenant power.

When we fight, we win!

Tenants knowing and exercising their rights together allows them collective power. A lot of the times, many of the issues you’re having with your landlord are similar to issues that other tenants are having with the landlord. If you live in a property with working class people, people of color, and families this is more true. If there’s an opportunity to collectively exercise your rights together, the first step is to build relationships with your neighbors.


Do tenants in your building share the same problem? Working together with your neighbors can maximize impact. Talk to your neighbors about their experiences. Establish a goal (what issues do you want resolved?) Invite your neighbors to a meeting to talk about your experiences, issues that need to be resolved, and get to know each other.

Attend a tenant rights workshop to get more information about your rights and how to organize with your neighbors.

Attend a tenant rights workshop

You can also check out this amazing organizing guide put together by a range of folks in the Homes for All campaign in the Right to the City alliance we are a part of!

Take Action

Collective action, or organizing, is when you combine your efforts with your neighbors, family or friends, for a common set of goals. All of the information in this booklet can be used by individuals to enforce their rights as tenants. However, you can also take these actions collectively as a way to build greater power while protecting your home.

Working with your neighbors helps you improve your situation in a number of ways. Working together with other tenants makes you a stronger force when standing up to your landlord and getting your needs met. Organizing into a group can give you greater protection from retaliation.
Attend one of our tenant rights workshops to get more info and help with your case.

  • Set up your first meeting and invite all interested neighbors. You can make flyers to stick under doors or in common spaces. However, beware that the landlord could find out what is happening before the meeting occurs.
  • Don’t invite your landlord to the meeting, or the building manager. It’s best for tenants to get to know each other without the pressure of a building manager present.
  • Make sure your meetings have a clear goal and a facilitator or someone else who can guide the group towards that goal.
  • Write down the main decisions you made in the meeting, and send them out to everyone. It’s often easiest to have someone take notes on these while the meeting is happening so you don’t forget.
  • Be aware of group dynamics.
  • Bring some snacks and take time before or after the meeting to chat with your neighbors a bit. Folks who know each other better get along better and are more resilient in the face of backlash from the landlord.
  • Handle all conflict openly, immediately and with respect.
  • For example, if one person talks the whole time at the meeting, it can be a big turn off for others. You can solve this by having people raise their hands while the facilitator calls on them if it is a big group.
  • Decide when to organize publicly and when to exercise secrecy. The sooner your landlord knows you are organizing, the sooner they can retaliate against you. That being said, if you can prove your landlord is retaliating against you for organizing you may be able to defend yourself using California Civil Code 1942.5.

Direct Action

Directly pressure your landlord into meeting your demands:
Deliver collective letter in person with people to support you.
Have other tenants, friends, and family call your landlord and ask to meet the demands (phone blasts).

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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.

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 that is less than 10 years old (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
  • You live in a recreational vehicle (RV) or wheeled tiny home but do NOT pay rent 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

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

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.