Oakland Rent Control Loophole Temporarily Closed

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Ali Tadayon
East Bay Times

For the next six months, Oakland landlords won’t be able to raise rents on properties under rent control after making repairs to them.

Oakland and San Francisco are the only two cities in the state that have “substantial rehabilitation exemptions” to rent stabilization ordinances, according to a report supporting the moratorium proposed by City Council members Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan. Council members voted Tuesday to impose the moratorium on granting the exemptions.

San Francisco’s substantial rehabilitation is “considerably more restrictive than Oakland’s,” the report said. Only 19 exemptions have been granted in San Francisco in the past 20 years, while 35 have been granted in just the past six years in Oakland, according to the report.

“I think the magnitude of the problem we face is very clear, that we have people being displaced through all kinds of inappropriate tactics,” Kaplan said at the council meeting. “Our whole community is suffering.”

The exemption was adopted in 1980 to encourage landlords to improve rental units by allowing them to recover revenue lost from vacancy, the report said. Since then, market rents have “dramatically increased.” A similar exemption in Los Angeles ended in 1989 after a survey showed the program resulted in displacement and led to gentrification when tenants weren’t able to afford the higher rents.

“This was a way to add units to the supply, not take them away,” said James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union. “Today, developers have seen this as a loophole, and now they are rushing to get through it.”

The moratorium gives city officials time to “consider modifying or eliminating” the exemption, the report said.

“We will need to make some serious amendments and restrictions, if not get rid of it in the next six months,” Kalb said.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Tenants Together is not the author of this article and the posting of this document does not imply any endorsement of the content by Tenants Together. This document may contain copyrighted material the use of which may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Tenants Together is making this article available on our website in an effort to advance the understanding of tenant rights issues in California. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Help build power for renters' rights: