In a session that lasted until late last night slash early this morning, Oakland's City Council has unanimously approved two proposals to curtail property owners' ability to raise their tenants' rents. The Associated Press reports that the companion measures will now head to the November ballot. Both require that landlords petition for approval of annual rent increases greater than 10 percent and one puts a limit on the amount that property owners can ask tenants to pay for building improvements.
“Longtime Oakland residents are getting pushed out at precisely the moment when opportunity is increasing,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, president of the social equity research institute PolicyLink, per the Chronicle.
The measures would not apply to buildings built after 1983, according to state law that exempts them from local rent control rules. One aspect of one of the proposals pertains to duplexes and triplexes lived in by their owners: While those are immediately not subject to rent control now, they would, under the proposal, still be subject to rent control laws for at least two years after an owner move in. An aspect of the other proposal would make it such that just-cause eviction laws would apply to homes built after 1995, requiring as grounds for eviction either violations of lease terms or use of the Ellis Act.
“By and large, most landlords neither abuse their tenants nor impose unfair rent increases,” the Chronicle quotes councilman Dan Kalb. “Nevertheless, given the incentive they have to raise rents, and the fact that there are some unscrupulous landlords, we have a strong incentive to enforce tenant protections.”
Previously, in April, the Oakland City Council approved a 90-day freeze on rent hikes. The city is made up of 60 percent renters and in a figure whose origin isn't completely clear, Mayor Libby Schaaf said at the time that one in four Oakland residents was in danger of displacement.