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RAP Petition Process

The rent petition process is administered by the Rent Adjustment Program in Oakland. It’s meant for both renters and landlords. There’s a $110 dollar Fee (2019-2020) per unit per year to help run this program and, in most cases, landlords are allowed to pass down 50% of the cost to tenants.

A tenant can use the petition process to:
Challenge rent increases
Get a decrease in rent due to a loss of service and/or code violations related to repair issues
Get a free settlement service to get into an agreement with the landlord about repair or rent increase issues.

A landlord needs to petition in order to:
Remove units from the housing market (Ellis Act)
Qualify for exceptions to Rent Control
Raise people’s rent above any CPI and Banking increases owed

This includes:
Capital improvement,
Constitutional Fair Return,
uninsured repair costs,
Increased Housing Service costs

If the landlord does not file a petition to increase the rent fr any of these reasons, then the tenant is not obligated to pay the rent increase and can file a petition to fight the rent increase attempt.

Tenants don’t have to pay invalid Consumer Price Index (CPI) based increases or banking increases. If tenants believe a rent increase is invalid and files a petition before the increased amount is due, they are not obligated to pay the increase until the issue is resolved. A tenant is also not obligated to pay the increase if there are ongoing bad conditions in the unit claimed if a the tenant filed the petition before the increase takes effect

Other important information:
The Landlord has the burden to prove the need for the rent increase.
If you are covered under the Rent Adjustment Program (rent control), yearly rent increases cannot be more than 10% no matter the reason.
You do have to pay a rent increase until you file a petition.

To contest a Rent Increase, you must file a petition within
-90 days if you’ve received the “Notice to Tenants” from your landlord with the increase.
-120 days of receiving the increase if the “Notice to Tenants” was not given to you.
-90 days of Knowing about the necessary notice if the landlord did not give the “Notice to Tenants” at all.

How to File a Petition
You can find and file a petition at
250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 5313, Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 238 – 3721, Monday – Friday, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Process:
Once you submit the petition, it will trigger a process of documentation and get assigned to a hearing, mediation, or an administrative decision. While waiting to see what the case gets assigned to, the other party has 35 days to answer the petition and provide any supporting documents. If there’s a clear outcome, you will receive an administrative decision. An example is: If you file a petition to contest a rent increase but are not covered under rent control. If the outcome is not clear and if both you and the landlord agree, you will have a mediation free of charge. If one party does not want mediation, you will have a hearing. The hearing officer usually sends out a decision within 30 days of the hearing. If a party does not agree with the decision, they can start an appeal process.

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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.