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It is not okay for your landlord to threaten or harass you. You have rights!

If you are being harassed, note that you are not alone. In our Tenants Rights clinic we hear about harassment issues weekly. This may happen because landlords may not know your rights, they may not know how to navigate being a landlord, or they could be using it as a tactic of displacement. We are not a legal organization but we can tell you your rights and point you towards additional resources!

In California, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for suing them, asking for repairs and/or enforcing any of their tenant rights. Landlords are also not able to threaten you with physical or verbal force or with calling ICE, in Oakland tenants and their relatives or acquaintances are also protected against landlord threats to call ICE or other local, state, or federal agencies on the basis of their perceived or actual immigration status. They also cannot interrupt your peaceful and quiet enjoyment of your unit including coming in without your consent, take things out of your unit, or invading your privacy. Oakland also has specific laws that protect many tenants against harassment.

Here are some harassment/intimidation tactics your landlord may be using that aren’t permitted by law. This is not an extensive list but it’s a guide of what we’ll cover.

1. Remove outside doors or windows
2. Prevent the tenant from gaining reasonable access to the property by changing the locks or using a boot-lock or by any other similar method or device
3. Remove from the premises the tenant’s personal property
4. The interruption or termination of any utility service provided for the tenant
5. Fail to perform repairs and maintenance
6. Fail to exercise due diligence in completing repairs and maintenance once undertaken or fail to follow appropriate industry repair
7. Abuse the Owner’s right of access
8. Threaten the Tenant or guests, by word or gesture, with physical harm
9. Refuse to accept or acknowledge receipt of a Tenant’s lawful rent payment
10. Refuse to cash a rent check or money orders for over thirty (30) days unless a written receipt for payment has been provided to the Tenant
11. Interfere with a Tenant’s right to privacy
12. Request information that violates a Tenant’s right to privacy, including but not limited to residence or citizenship status or social security number – a landlord cannot in bad faith refuse equivalent alternatives to information or documentation that do not concern immigration or citizenship status
13. Removing a housing service, such as parking spot
14. Elder financial abuse will now be a violation of the Tenant Protection Ordinance in Oakland. 15. Currently, there are several ways that a landlord might be able to increase a rent-controlled Oakland tenant’s rent above the amount allowed yearly based on the current CPI amount in the rent ordinance (such as ‘banking’ prior unused increases or a capital improvements petition). The amount of this increase is now capped at 5% in any one year plus the Consumer Price Index change for that year, or 10 percent, whichever is lower, to conform to state law.

If you need information about your unit to make an assessment about your situation, you can call the number below and ask them for:
(1) landlord’s full name & address (the address they have on record),
(2) number of units on the property, or
(3) year built. All these pieces of information are public records and therefore are easily accessible.

County Assessor’s Office Room 145
1221 Oak Street
(510) 272-3787
Call them between the hours of 8:30 and 4:30pm.

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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.