Oakland Moves to Protect Renters Amid Housing Crisis

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Courthouse News Service – By Helen Christophi

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — In the face of soaring Bay Area rents and what experts decry as a public health crisis, the Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to strengthen protections for the city’s tenants.

The council unanimously approved eight amendments to Oakland’s rental laws,prohibiting landlords from raising rents above the annual consumer price index increase and extending the number of years that some buildings are protected by rent control, among other things.

The amendments will help tenants stay in their homes by safeguarding them from evictions precipitated by ballooning rental costs and changes in building ownership, the city hopes.

“I think this is a smart ordinance,” said Councilmember Dan Kalb, who proposed the amendments along with fellow members Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Abel Guillen.

Although Oakland residents will be voting on a renter protection measure in November to make it harder for landlords to increase rents and evict tenants, the council passed Tuesday’s amendments to stem the displacement of longtime residents in a process it says is changing the city’s “character and diversity.”

Oakland rents are the fourth highest in the nation, behind San Francisco, New York and Boston, and the displacement of renters due to large rent hikes and insufficient housing stock is a growing problem in the city of 419,000.

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