What is Rent Control?

Rent Increases

**Please note that on March 9, 2020 the Oakland City Administrator issued a proclamation of Local Emergency, which was ratified by the Oakland City Council on March 12, 2020, due to the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. On March 27, 2020, the Oakland City Council adopted an ordinance imposing a moratorium on residential evictions and rent increases and prohibiting late fees during the Local Emergency. The Ordinance also prohibits evictions based on nonpayment of rent that became due during the Local Emergency when the tenant suffered a substantial reduction of income or substantial increase of expenses due to Covid-19.

For more information on the Emergency Eviction Moratorium, click here for the Emergency Eviction Moratorium Info and FAQ Sheets. Translated versions of both documents are available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Khmer, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.

Rent Levels and Rent Regulation (O.M.C. 8.22.070 et seq.)

Every residential rental unit in Oakland that is not exempt from the provisions of the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance has a lawful rent ceiling, which is the maximum amount of rent that a property owner may lawfully charge for the use or occupancy of the unit and any associated housing services, such as furnishings, parking or laundry facilities. Rent is not limited to money and includes the fair market value of any goods or services that are rendered to a property owner in lieu of money.

Under the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act, a property owner may set the initial rent and associated housing services for new tenancies beginning on or after January 1, 1996. The initial rent becomes the new rent ceiling, which may be changed only by allowable increases under the Rent Ordinance. Any change in housing services from that provided at the beginning of the tenancy may be grounds for an adjustment of the lawful rent ceiling.

A property owner is NOT eligible to implement a vacancy increase for a unit that was cited by a governmental agency for serious health, safety, fire, or building code violations (except those caused by disasters) that remained uncorrected for more than 60 days before the vacancy.

RENT CEILING INCREASES

Rent ceilings may be increased by the annual consumer price index (CPI) rent increase without seeking approval from the Rent Adjustment Program. Every March, the RAP publishes the CPI for the next fiscal year which runs from July 1 through June 30. For the permitted CPI for 2020-2021, see the Allowable Annual Rent Increase section below.

An owner can increase the rent on a covered unit only once in a 12-month period. The first increase cannot be effective any earlier than 12 months after the tenant moved into the unit. No rent increase can be imposed until at least six (6) months after the tenant was first served with the RAP Notice.

If an owner does not increase the rent, or increases it less than the allowable CPI, the owner is entitled to “bank” the unused rent increase for the future. However, the total rent increase that can be imposed in any one banking increase may not exceed the total of three times the then allowable CPI increase and may not be greater than the lower of 10% or 5% plus the percent change in cost of living (set by State of California). For July 2020 to July 2021 that amount is 6.1% (the state rent limitation runs on a different calendar from the City CPI calendar). No rent increase may be banked more than ten (10) years after it accrues.

A property owner must give a tenant at least 30 days’ written notice of the increase. If the tenant has a fixed-term lease, unless the lease allows the increase, the property owner will have to wait until the expiration of the lease term to implement the CPI increase.

Property Owner Petitions for Rent Adjustments

Property owners may petition the RAP for rent ceiling increases, although with vacancy decontrol in effect, there is less need for such petitions. Grounds for filing a property owner petition are as follows:

  • Capital Improvements: Costs paid by the owner for improvements to the unit or the building that materially add to the value of the property, appreciably prolong its useful life, and primarily benefit the tenants. An owner is entitled to pass through 70% of the allowable costs for expenditures made within 24 months of having filed the petition.
  • Uninsured Repair Costs: These costs are expenditures made to repair damage resulting from fire, earthquake, or natural disaster, to the extent such repair is not reimbursed by insurance proceeds.
  • Increased Housing Service Costs: An owner can also file a petition for a rent increase based on increased housing service costs to cover increased costs related to insurance, utilities, heat, water, and other services provided by the owner related to the use or occupancy of the unit.
  • Fair Return: An owner can also file a petition for a rent increase based on fair return. Fair return is measured by a calculation to determine if the owner is maintaining the net operating income produced by the property in a base year, subject to CPI-related adjustments.

Tenant Petitions for Rent Adjustments

Tenants may petition the RAP for reductions in the rent ceiling, and do so most commonly because of housing code violations, habitability problems, or a decrease in living space or housing services. The petition process can be used to obtain rent reductions to compensate for such problems and to motivate a property owner to correct physical defects or restore space or services. Other grounds for filing a tenant petition are:

  • Unlawful Rent Increase: A rent increase that exceeds the CPI rent increase or a rent increase that is greater than 5% plus the percent change in cost of living. For July 2020 to July 2021 that amount is 6.1% in one year or greater than 30% over a 5-year period (except for fair return).
  • No RAP Notice: A rent increase notice was served without a RAP Notice.
  • Expiration of capital improvement amortization period.
  • Improper Service of the rent increase notice.

HEARINGS

After a tenant or a property owner files a petition, the opposing party has a right to object to the petition. If no objection is filed or if the petitioner does not request a hearing, and a hearing officer determines that a decision can be rendered without testimony, the petition will be decided administratively, that is, without a hearing. Otherwise, a hearing will be held, in which an impartial hearing officer takes testimony and receives written evidence on the issues raised by the petition. In either case, unless the parties enter into a settlement agreement, the hearing officer will issue a written decision granting or denying the requested rent ceiling increases or decreases. A hearing officer’s decision may be appealed to the seven-member Rent Board.

Allowable Annual Rent Increase (O.M.C. 8.22.070 et seq.)

The Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance and Rent Adjustment Program Regulations provide a framework for rent increases in covered rental units. The following is a summary only. For complete information, please consult the Ordinance and Regulations. Tenants can be given only one rent increase in any 12-month period. An increase cannot happen earlier than 12 months after a tenant’s move-in date or 12 months after the last rent increase.

The Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance provides for an Allowable Annual Rent Increase based on the regional Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). A new CPI rate takes effect each July 1 and remains in effect for rent increases through June 30 of the following calendar year.

The annual CPI rate for rent increases effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, is 2.7%. The rate cannot be applied to rent increases that take effect earlier than July 1, 2020.

A property owner can raise the rent above the CPI rate, based on ‘justifications’ listed in the in the Ordinance and Regulations. One justification is ‘banking.’ ‘Banking’ refers to deferred annual CPI rent increases that an owner can carry forward, subject to limitations (See Regs.-Appendix A, 10-5). An increase based on banking cannot be higher than 3X the current year’s CPI. The Ordinance also has noticing requirements for giving a rent increase. California law requires that tenants be provided with written advance notice of a rent increase of 30 days (for increases 10% or less) or 60 days (for increases greater than 10%) before the effective date of the increase. NOTE: Oakland rent law prohibits rent increases higher than 10%.

July 1, 2020: 2.7%

July 1, 2019: 3.5%

July 1, 2018: 3.4%

July 1, 2010: 2.7%

July 1, 2009: 0.7%

July 1, 2017: 2.3%

July 1, 2008: 3.2%

July 1, 2016: 2.0%

July 1, 2007: 3.3%

July 1, 2015: 1.7%

May 1, 2006: 3.3%

July 1, 2014: 1.9%

May 1, 2005: 1.9%

July 1, 2013: 2.1%

May 1, 2004: 0.7%

July 1, 2012: 3.0%

May 1, 2003: 3.6%

July 1, 2011: 2.0%

July 1, 2002: 0.6%

March 1, 1995 – June 30, 2002: 3% per year

If you have questions on this process, you can contact a Housing Counselor from the Rent Adjustment Program for more information. Our information is below.

Info Sheets

Rent Levels and Rent Regulation

Allowable Annual Rent Increase

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