A new Oakland ordinance requires relocation payments of thousands of dollars to renters evicted by landlords who are moving back to their properties.
Passed by the City Council on Jan. 16, the Uniform Relocation Ordinance creates a schedule of relocation payments that will increase every year based on consumer price index fluctuations
The first schedule would require landlords to pay $9,875 to those evicted from three or more bedroom units, $8,000 to renters evicted from two-bedroom units and $6,500 to people evicted from studios or one-bedroom units. Households with low-income, elderly or disabled people or those with minor children would be entitled to an additional payment of $2,500 per unit.
“With uniform relocation, we have an opportunity here to take care of the poor among us who are forced out of their homes and forced to live on the streets,” Oakland Warehouse Coalition’s Jonah Strauss said at the council meeting.
The ordinance would expand on another approved by the council last year, which created the same uniform schedule of relocation payments for landlords who evict tenants under the state’s Ellis Act. The Ellis Act allows landlords to evict tenants if they take their property off the rental market.
The final version of the ordinance passed Jan. 16 contained some amendments to what was originally proposed. One amendment allows landlords to pay the relocation payments in phases: the first third of the payment would be paid to the tenant upon eviction, another third would be paid after a year and the last third would be paid after two years.
Another amendment would allow landlords to avoid the relocation payments if there is an agreement before the renter moves in that the landlord would be moving back at a specific time.
Several Oakland property owners spoke in opposition of the ordinance at the council meeting, though some of them described being in situations that are exempt from the payment requirements. City officials noted that folks evicted for “just cause” are exempt from receiving the payments; that includes evictions from duplexes or triplexes which the property owner is also living.
Lisa Zomer and other “mom and pop” landlords worried that having to pay relocation payments could hinder their ability to move back into their rental properties if they are stuck with some sort of financial hardship and are forced to.
“While I don’t want problems for the people who need houses and i don’t want to kick people out, I’ve invested everything i have in this city, and to put it in a situation where I can’t move in or it creates a hardship seems like the wrong way to go about this,” Zomer said.
Alana Clark, who manages her father’s five-unit rental property in Oakland, said ordinances like this penalize small-scale landlords, which could cause them to take their properties off of the rental market.
“The more you punish housing providers for the service we provide, the less housing Oakland will have to work with,” Clark said. “Have you noticed that there is a housing shortage? Don’t shoot yourself in the foot; work with us for solutions that won’t make things worse.”