James

City: 
Oakland
Residence Type: 
3 or 4 units
Landlord Type: 
Private Landlord -- No Rent Control
Organization: 
California College of the Arts

As an Oakland native, I’m especially fond of the Bay Area, which is why I’ve been living in the same in-law unit in the Glenview district of Oakland since 1993 – twenty-one years and no regrets! Yet a less than a year ago I was served a 60-day notice to vacate the in-law unit I had been renteing, the byproduct of a loophole in Oakland’s housing laws: Three units or fewer with owner living onsite = no rent control (if owner lives off-site, then rent control is in effect). From 1993 to 2000 the owner did not live on the premises, but when the building sold in 2000, the new owners moved into the duplex (with in-law). So while I never moved, I both had and didn't have rent control. At the time of the sale, I was so worried about a owner move-in, I negotiated a substantial 40 percent rent increase to sign a one-year lease. The new owner never raised the rent -- not even once during the next 13+ years. Then at the height of the Bay Area housing boom, the owner served me and the other tenants a 60-day eviction notice, claiming he wanted to refurbish the units and return them to market at a much higher rent. (Next-door neighbor in similar building did the same thing to his tenants.) No relocation expenses were extended. Just a greedy, opportunistic landlord who relied on a little-known loophole in the law to kick out long-time tenants to make more money. Owner admitted he wished he had asked for annual increases in rent, after the fact. Owner told other neighbors he and his wife and kids would be purchasing another home in Piedmont, one of the wealthiest cities in the state. After frantically looking for a new place to live and giving away most of my possessions, I ended up paying twice the rent I had been paying, and have been suffering trying to make ends meet ever since. That's my story.

Help build power for renters' rights:

Sign up for alerts