Hearings, Mediations, and Appeals

The Rent Adjustment Program is a petition-based system for property owners and tenants. Tenants may petition to challenge certain rent increases and for a decrease in rent paid due to a loss in service. Property owners may petition for certain rent increases, exemption from the RAP for qualifying properties, or apply to remove a property from the rental market as allowed by the Ellis Act.

The Rent Adjustment Program is a petition-based system for property owners and tenants. Tenants may petition to challenge certain rent increases and for a decrease in rent paid due to a loss in service. Property owners may petition for certain rent increases, exemption from the RAP for qualifying properties, or apply to remove a property from the rental market as allowed by the Ellis Act.

Please note that rent increases based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) are allowed and do not require a petition. Rent increases based on banking also are allowed. Banking includes any CPI-based rent increase that the property owner delays, which can be imposed at a later date.

Property owners who want to increase rent more than the CPI increase must submit a petition.

If you file online, you will receive an email confirmation. If you file by paper, you will receive a letter confirming receipt of your petition. Instructions on how to submit your petition electronically and on paper are listed in the Contact Us Section below.

To read the Rent Adjustment Ordinance, click here.

After the property owner or tenant submits a petition, they can:


**Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Shelter-in-Place order, all in-person services have been cancelled. Please scroll down to the Contact Us Section to find out the best way to get in touch with us for form requests, information, and other resources.

  • Access case information or add new information through the online portal if they have an account.
  • Submit supporting documents no later than fourteen (14) days before the hearing date.
  • Contact the Program Analyst assigned to their case to address any questions and concerns.
  • · Come to drop-in office hours in the Housing Resource Center on the 6th floor. There are NO drop-in hours on Fridays. (**CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19)
  • · Review a case file online or in-person by appointment. (Please be advised that not all documentation is available online. Documents submitted in physical form will only be available by appointment in the Rent Adjustment Program office.) (**CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19)
  • City staff will notify the property owner about the tenant’s complain or the tenant about the property owner’s petition.
    • The notice will include a copy of the original petition.
  • Property owners and tenants will have thirty-five (35) days to respond to the petition from the date of the mailed notice.
  • Tenants can pay the old rent if they file an eligible petition, unless the rent increase notice specifies the current allowable CPI plus the current allowable CPI increase.
  • The property owner or tenant who filed the complaint will receive a copy of the response by mail.
  • Property owners and tenants must submit any supporting documents no later than fourteen calendar days before the scheduled hearing date.

There are multiple ways that RAP will make a decision about the petition. Mediations and formal hearings are addressed below along with the appeal process.

Mediation

RAP offers free mediation services to both tenants and property owners when they have disputes. This is a confidential and voluntary process. Mediation aims to help both parties to reach an agreement without a hearing. Often, this process resolves disputes more effectively rather than a formal hearing.

We offer two types of mediation services:

1.) If you do not wish to file a petition and simply request mediation services, you may fill out this form and email it to hearingsunit@oaklandca.gov.

2.) If a petition is filed, both parties must request mediation in order to schedule the meeting. The filer of the petition can also request mediation by completing this form when initiating the petition process. The form must be emailed tohearingsunit@oaklandca.gov along with all other petition-related documents.

If the parties cannot agree in mediation, the case will go to a formal hearing before a Hearing Officer.

Hearings

**Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all hearings will be held electronically until the end of the Local Emergency. RAP staff will be in contact with you via email to schedule hearings amongst other items.

Hearings are held in person and are presided over by an impartial RAP Hearing Officer at the Rent Adjustment Office. At the hearing, the parties can represent themselves or have a representative. A representative does not have to be an attorney. The parties may bring witnesses and documentary evidence to a hearing. All documents (including photographs and digital evidence) need to be produced to the RAP office seven (7) days prior to the Hearing.

After everyone is signed into the hearing, the Hearing Officer will review the rules and process of the hearing and perform a roll call of everyone in attendance. Both parties will have time to present documents and arguments to the Hearing Officer. After each side presents, the other party will be able to ask them questions. When both parties finish presenting their side, each party will give a closing statement before the hearing ends. Please note that the Hearing Officer does not make a decision at the hearing.

After the hearing, the Hearing Officer will review the case and the evidence presented. The Hearing Officer will issue a Hearing Decision setting forth the allowable rent or new allowances and RAP will mail the decision to all parties.

All parties must follow the decision unless they decide to appeal.

Appeals

Upon receiving a Hearing Decision, either the property owner or the tenant may appeal the decision if they are not satisfied with the Hearing Officer’s decision. The Appeal Form, located here, must be received within twenty (20) days from the Proof of Service date noted on the last page of the Hearing Decision.* If the Rent Adjustment Office is closed on the last day to file, the appeal may be filed on the next business day. If the appeal is late, you must also submit an explanation with your Appeal Form. City Staff will decide whether to accept a late appeal or not. (Should I leave in here or delete?)

When you file your appeal with RAP, you must also deliver a copy of it with any attachments to all other parties along with a Proof of Service form through a process server.


You may refer to the Appeals Decision Index for case precedents.

Filing an appeal suspends the judgment of the initial hearing decision. Once the appeal is submitted, the assigned Hearing Officer, Program Analyst, and RAP Manager will review the appeal. Staff will only consider the information contained in the appeal and the records from the original hearing. If there is a clerical error, the Hearing Officer will issue a corrected decision. If a corrected decision is issued, the 20-day appeal period begins again.

If a corrected decision is not issued, an appeal hearing will be scheduled with the Housing Residential Rent and Relocation Board (the Board). All parties will receive notice of the scheduled hearing.** During the hearing, the Board will listen to the arguments of the parties. The Board will deliberate, vote and announce the decision at the meeting. Staff will draft a written appeal decision to present to the Board at its next meeting for approval. The appeal decision by the Hearing Officer will then become the final decision of the Rent Adjustment Program. The Board’s written decision is the final decision by the City of Oakland. Parties cannot appeal to the City Council. However, within 90 days they may seek judicial review of the decision with the Superior Court.

*Please note that the Appeal Form must be completed and the explanation for filing the appeal must not exceed twenty-five (25) pages. We will not process incomplete appeals.

**Please note that if you filed the appeal and do not appear at the scheduled hearing, the Board will dismiss your case.

Other Important Information

Request to Change Rent Adjustment Hearing Date

If you are unable to attend the date of your hearing, appeal, or mediation meeting and need to reschedule, you must request to reschedule as soon as possible. You must fill out this form and email it to the Hearings Unit at hearingsunit@oaklandca.gov.

Documentation verifying the reason for the request must be attached to this form. A postponement may only be granted for good cause shown and in the interests of justice. The agreement of the parties to a postponement is not good cause by itself. Only one postponement may be granted to a party unless the party shows extraordinary circumstances. The maximum postponement granted is usually 20 days. Before submitting this request, you must try to reach an agreement with the other party(ies) for a new date for the proceeding. If you provide two alternate hearing dates, the hearing will be set on one of the agreed dates, if the date is available on the hearing calendar. If it is not available, another date will be chosen.

Request to Dismiss Petition

The party who initiated the petition may dismiss their petition at any time. They must download this form and fill it out before emailing it to the hearingsunit@oaklandca.gov as soon as possible. Please make sure to include the case number on the form.

Filing a Potential Violation of the Rent Adjustment Ordinance

Violations, whether by the tenant or property owner, to specific provisions of the Rent Adjustment Ordinance may be subject to administrative citation.

Specific violations in which RAP may issue a citation include some of the following items:

  1. A tenant or property owner has failed or refuses to comply with the terms of the mediation agreement or the final order of the Hearing Officer or Rent Board.
  2. A property owner is demanding payment of a rent increase in excess of that permitted amount after a tenant has filed a petition challenging a rent increase(s).
  3. A tenant failed to pay the RAP Service Fee as required.
  4. A property owner failed to pay the RAP Service Fee as required.
  5. A property owner failed to file notice with RAP that a unit is no longer exempt as required.

In order for RAP to investigate possible violations, a Declaration must be made in writing, or on the attached Declaration here, and submitted to our office.

Info Sheets

Rent Adjustment Program Mediation Flyer

About

ABOUT THE RENT ADJUSTMENT PROGRAM

The Oakland City Council adopted the Rent Adjustment Program Ordinance (OMC Chapter 8.22) in 1980. This ordinance sets the maximum annual rent increase based on the annual CPI increase and handles rent adjustments for claims of decreases in housing services and handles other rent-related matters. The purpose of this program is to foster fair housing for a diverse population of renters and enforce the Rent Adjustment Ordinance set out by the City of Oakland.

Contact Us

*Due to the Shelter-in-Place Order issued on March 16, 2020, all in-person counseling and form drop-offs have been canceled. Please read the information below carefully to find the best way to contact us.

By Phone:

Phone: (510) 238-3721 | Fax: (510) 238-6181

RAP staff members are available from Monday to Thursday, 9:30am to 4:30pm to answer any RAP or housing-related questions you might have. Calls are generally limited to 10 minutes per person.

By Email:

Email (for all inquiries): rap@oaklandca.gov.

To contact the Hearings Unit, you can email them at hearingsunit@oaklandca.gov. If you are initiating a new petition or have a case pending and need to submit petition-related documents, you must email the Hearings Unit.

All eviction notices should be scanned and submitted via email to evictionnotices@oaklandca.gov.

By Mail:

Address: 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 5313

Oakland, CA 94612

Due to the Shelter-in-Place Order, we are no longer accepting in-person petition applications and related materials in our office. All new petitions and petition-related documents can be submitted by mail to the address above.

All documents for Ellis Act cases must be mailed to 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 5313, Oakland, CA 94612.

Online Petition Filing:

We also offer an online portal where you can submit your petitions and all petition-related forms online. Click here to access the portal.

For a full list of documents, click here to access all tenant forms and here for all property owner forms.

Request a Form:

General forms can be found on our website. For property owner forms, click here. For tenant forms, click here. If you cannot find the form you want, you can email the Rent Adjustment Program at rap@oaklandca.gov to obtain it.

To request documents related to a case, make a Public Records Request (PRR) here. Please note that all PRRS are considered public information. You can also look up information related to cases through our database here.

JOIN THE EMAIL LIST

If you would like to receive emails about upcoming events or updates from the Rent Adjustment Program, please sign up! Please use the link below to add your name and email to our list for future updates.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VDB6CLX