What is the Oakland Eviction Moratorium?
The Moratorium provides the following protections to residential tenants:
- Bans evictions for nearly any reason during Oakland’s State of Emergency.
- Prevents evictions of tenants who failed to pay rent during the State of Emergency due to financial difficulties from COVID-19. This protection applies even after the emergency period ends. It also prohibits landlords from charging late fees for that back rent.
- Limits certain rent increases during the State of Emergency.
Who is Protected by the Moratorium?
The Moratorium protects all tenants in the City of Oakland except for the following:
- Tenants living in a building constructed in or after 1996.
- Tenants living in the same unit as their landlord (sharing a bathroom or kitchen).
- Tenants living in a health facility, nonprofit substance abuse treatment facility, or certain short-term housing for homeless people.
What Types of Evictions Does the Moratorium Cover?
The Moratorium applies if you are being evicted for any of these reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Breach of lease (noncompliance with the terms of the lease)
- Refusing to sign a new lease with materially similar terms
- Causing substantial damage to the premises
- Disturbing quiet enjoyment
- Denying the landlord access to the unit if required by law
- Owner move-in
- Eviction for substantial repairs
The only two exceptions to the blanket Moratorium are:
- If you are being evicted under the Ellis Act (removing the whole property from the rental market for 10 years) OR
- The eviction is because the tenant is an imminent health or safety risk to other occupants.
How Long Does the Eviction Moratorium Last?
The ban on most evictions lasts as long as Oakland’s State of Emergency, which currently is retroactive to March 9 and ends on May 31.
Future protection never expires for tenants who cannot pay rent during the State of Emergency due to COVID-19. Tenants still owe past rent, but landlords cannot ever lawfully evict them for not paying. A landlord could sue for the rent in other forums– for example, in small claims court. But tenants cannot lose their housing for nonpayment during the State of Emergency.
How Does the Moratorium Stop Evictions?
A landlord cannot evict you if the landlord:
- Gives you an eviction notice during the State of Emergency.
- Files an eviction lawsuit against you using an eviction notice that expires during the State of Emergency.
- Files an eviction lawsuit against you during the State of Emergency.
If your landlord does file an eviction lawsuit against you, you still need to take steps to respond to the lawsuit in time. If you do, you can easily win the lawsuit under this Moratorium.
Why Doesn’t the Moratorium Just Stop Eviction Lawsuits?
A landlord is allowed to file an eviction lawsuit if the landlord follows certain state law requirements. No individual city can pass a law that says otherwise. If your landlord files an eviction lawsuit against you, even if you are protected by the Moratorium, you still have to respond in order to preserve your rights.
Did Governor Newsom Pass an Eviction Moratorium in California?
No. On March 27, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an order on evictions that changed procedural court guidelines in some eviction cases if tenants take affirmative steps now and provide information to their landlords. The order does not extend the time for any tenant to pay rent or make them more likely to win an eviction case.
How Does the Moratorium Stop Future Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent?
If you are unable to pay rent during the State of Emergency because of COVID-19, you cannot be evicted in the future for failure to pay that rent. You will still owe that rent in the future, but you can’t be evicted for failing to pay it, even after the emergency period ends. Your landlord cannot charge late fees for that rent.
What Kind of Proof Do I Need to Show That I Can’t Pay Rent Because of COVID-19?
You are not legally required to notify your landlord that COVID-19 impacts your ability to pay. But you should collect proof of COVID-19’s financial impact because you can present that information in court if your landlord tries to evict you. If you prove that you couldn’t pay rent because of COVID-19, you will win the eviction lawsuit.
Some types of proof include pay stubs, a letter from your current or former employer, a letter from your child’s school, or medical records. If none of those are an option for you, you could have a friend or coworker testify in court.
What Does the Moratorium Do About Rent Increases?
If you live in a rent-controlled unit, your landlord cannot increase your rent greater than Oakland’s yearly CPI increase (currently set at 3.5%) during the State of Emergency. The only exception is if your landlord petitions the Oakland Rent Board for a “fair return.”
Ordinarily, a landlord might be able to increase your rent for more than the CPI by banking prior increases or capital improvements. This moratorium disallows those types of increases.
Who Can I Contact in Oakland for Help If My Landlord Is Still Trying to Evict Me?
- Centro Legal de la Raza – (510) 437-1554
- East Bay Community Law Center – (510) 548-4040, ext. 629
- Eviction Defense Center – (510) 452-4541
- Bay Area Legal Aid – (510) 250-5257
- Legal Assistance for Seniors – (510) 832-3040
- Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach – (510) 251-2846
Non-legal Tenant Support:
- Causa Justa Just Cause – Tenant Hotline: (510) TENANTS (836-2687) (general advice for tenants in English & Spanish); (510) 763-5877 (main number, tenant organizing)
- Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment – (510) 269-4692 (tenant organizing)
- Oakland Tenants Union – (510) 704-5276 (tenant counseling)
For more information on our housing legal services please click here or call us at 510-548-4040.