OAKLAND'S JUST CAUSE FOR EVICTION ORDINANCE
(The Oakland City Clerk says that this law will go into effect
10 days after adoption by the Oakland City Council, which is currently scheduled
for December 17, 2002.)
WHEREAS, the laws of the State of California and the Housing Element of the
General Plan of the City of Oakland prohibit arbitrary discrimination by
WHEREAS, the right to occupancy of safe, decent, and sanitary housing is a
human right, and
WHEREAS, the City of Oakland’s prolonged affordable housing crisis
disproportionately impacts low income and working class households, senior
citizens, people of color, and people with disabilities, and thereby increases
homelessness and crime, harms neighborhood stability and cohesion, and
damages business prospects for small businesses, and
WHEREAS, recent state laws that eliminate limits on rent increases upon the
vacation of rental units provide added economic incentive to evict tenants, such
that the number of no cause evictions has increased markedly in recent years,
WHEREAS, the absence of a local law prohibiting a landlord from evicting a
tenant without good cause is a significant barrier to implementation and
enforcement of the Oakland Residential Rent Arbitration Ordinance, and
WHEREAS, residential tenants, who constitute approximately 65% of the
residents of Oakland, suffer great and serious hardship when forced to move
from their homes, and
WHEREAS, basic fairness requires that a landlord must not terminate the
tenancy of a residential tenant without good, just, non-arbitrary,
non-discriminatory reasons, and
WHEREAS, the good cause eviction protections enacted in San Francisco,
Berkeley, Hayward, and other California cities, have aided community stability
and reduced urban problems associated with arbitrary disruption of stable
WHEREAS, the general welfare of all citizens of Oakland would be enhanced if
no cause evictions were prohibited,
THEREFORE, the electorate of the City of Oakland hereby enacts this
ordinance, prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy without good or just
Section 1. Title.
This ordinance shall be known as the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance.
Section 2. Findings.
1. A public emergency exists in the City of Oakland due to the lack of
adequate, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing. This emergency
disproportionately impacts tenants of residential rental units, a majority of
whom are people of color, working class families, the homeless, those of low
income, and the elderly and disabled.
2. Just cause eviction protections would strengthen and effectuate existing rent
control legislation in Oakland as landlords are able to use no cause evictions to
evade the Oakland Residential Rent Arbitration Ordinance.
3. Oakland presently has no just cause protections for tenants. As a result, any
residential tenant may be subjected to eviction at anytime and without reason.
4. Without just cause protections, many tenants are afraid to demand their right
to a safe, inhabitable home.
5. Furthermore, Oakland is experiencing extreme housing market pressures
from neighboring Santa Clara and San Francisco counties, resulting in a
decrease in the vacancy rate and an increase in residential rental prices.
6. This situation has been exacerbated by the Costa-Hawkins law, which, by
eliminating controls on rents upon the voluntary vacation of a rental unit, has
provided added economic incentive to evict tenants. From January 1999 through
December 2000, the effective date of full implementation of the Costa- Hawkins
law, Sentinel Fair Housing has reported a 300% increase in the eviction of
Oakland tenants. This trend has continued to date.
7. Without the institution of just cause protections, Oakland’s housing
emergency will continue, and will contribute to increases in homelessness,
crime, neighborhood instability, and harm to small businesses.
8. Many municipal jurisdictions in California, including Berkeley, Hayward, and
San Francisco in the Bay Area, have effectively utilized just cause protections
to preserve affordable housing. Such protections have helped abate the urban
problems associated with neighborhood instability, homelessness, and illegal
activity in vacant units, providing concrete benefits for both landowners and
9. Just cause eviction protections are consistent with the Housing Element of
the Master Plan of the City of Oakland, which states that residents have the
right to decent housing in pleasant neighborhoods at prices they can afford.
Section 3. Purpose.
The purpose of this Ordinance is to defend and nurture the stability of housing
and neighborhoods in the City of Oakland by protecting tenants against
arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or retaliatory evictions, thereby
maintaining diversity in Oakland neighborhoods and communities while
recognizing the rights of rental property owners. This Ordinance is intended to
address housing problems in the City of Oakland so as to preserve the public
health, safety, and welfare, and to advance the housing policies of the City with
regard to low and fixed income persons, people of color, students, and those
needing special protections, such as long-term elderly and disabled tenants.
Section 4. Definitions.
A. LANDLORD. An owner of record, or lessor or sublessor of an owner of
record, or any other person or entity entitled either to receive rent for the use or
occupancy of any rental unit or to maintain an action for possession of a rental
unit, or an agent, representative, or successor of any of the foregoing.
B. OWNER OF RECORD. A natural person, who is an owner of record holding
an interest equal to or greater than thirty three percent (33%) in the property at
the time of giving a notice terminating tenancy and at all times thereafter, until
and including the earlier of the tenant’s surrender of possession of the premises
or the execution of a writ of possession pursuant to the judgment of a court of
competent jurisdiction; but not including any lessor, sublessor, or agent of the
owner of record.
C. RENT. The consideration, including any deposit, bonus, benefit, or gratuity
demanded or received for, or in connection with, the use or occupancy of rental
units and housing services. Such consideration shall include, but not be limited
to, moneys and fair value of goods or services rendered to or for the benefit of
the landlord under the rental agreement, or in exchange for a rental unit or
housing services of any kind.
D. RENT BOARD. City of Oakland Housing, Residential Rent, and Relocation
Board (HRRRB), aka Residential Rent Arbitration Board (RRAB), aka Rent
Arbitration Board, aka Oakland Rent Board, aka Rent Board, established under
Ordinance No. 9980 and subsequent amendments.
E. RENTAL AGREEMENT. An agreement, oral, written, or implied, between a
landlord and a tenant for the use and/or occupancy of a rental unit.
F. RENTAL UNIT (aka UNIT, aka PREMISES). Any unit in any real property,
regardless of zoning status, including the land appurtenant thereto, that is
rented or available for rent for residential use or occupancy (regardless of
whether the unit is also used for other purposes), together with all housing
services connected with use or occupancy of such property, such as common
areas and recreational facilities held out for use by the tenant.
G. PROPERTY. A parcel of real property, located in the City of Oakland, that is
assessed and taxed as an undivided whole.
H. TENANT. Any renter, tenant, subtenant, lessee, or sublessee of a rental
unit, or any group of renters, tenants, subtenants, lessees, sublessees of a
rental unit, or any other person entitled to the use or occupancy of such rental
unit, or any successor of any of the foregoing.
I. SKILLED NURSING FACILITY. A health facility or a distinct part of a hospital
that provides, at a minimum, skilled nursing care and supportive care to
patients whose primary medical need is the availability of skilled nursing care
on an extended basis. Such facility must provide 24-hour inpatient care, an
activity program, and medical, nursing, dietary, pharmaceutical services.
Additionally, the facility must provide effective arrangements, confirmed in
writing, through which services required by the patients but not regularly
provided within the facility can be obtained promptly when needed.
J. HEALTH FACILITY. Any facility, place or building that is organized,
maintained, and operated for the diagnosis, care, and treatment of human
illness, physical or mental, including convalescence and rehabilitation, and
including care during and after pregnancy, or for any one or more of these
K. MAXIMUM LAWFUL RENT. The maximum rent which may lawfully be
charged for such unit under the terms of the Oakland Residential Rent
Arbitration Ordinance or successor ordinances intended to limit or regulate rent
charged for residential rental units within the City of Oakland.
L. BUSINESS TAX DECLARATION. The annual declaration required to be filed
in connection with a landlord’s obtaining or renewing a City of Oakland business
license for rental units. Any failure by a landlord to file such a declaration,
whether pursuant to an exemption or otherwise, shall not relieve a rental unit
from being subject to the provisions of this ordinance.
M. CHILD/PARENT. A child/parent relationship is one in which a child is either
a parent’s biological child or adopted child, provided that such relationship was
established prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday and at least one year prior to
the attempted eviction. At the time of attempted eviction, a child of an owner of
record must be over the age of 18 or be emancipated.
N. TENANTS’ RIGHTS ORGANIZATION. Any unincorporated tenant’s
association, incorporated tenants association, nonprofit housing and/or tenant’s
rights entity of any form.
Section 5. APPLICABILITY.
The provisions of this Ordinance shall apply to all rental units in whole or in part,
including where a notice to vacate/quit any such rental unit has been served as
of the effective date of this Ordinance but where any such rental unit has not yet
been vacated or an unlawful detainer judgment has not been issued as of the
effective date of this Ordinance. However, Section 6 and Section 7(A)-(E) of the
Ordinance shall not apply to the following types of rental units:
A. Rental units exempted from Part 4, Title 4, Chapter 2 of the California Civil
Code (CCC) by CCC § 1940(b).
B. Rental units in any hospital, skilled nursing facility, or health facility.
C. Rental units in a nonprofit facility that has the primary purpose of providing
short term treatment, assistance, or therapy for alcohol, drug, or other
substance abuse and the housing is provided incident to the recovery program,
and where the client has been informed in writing of the temporary or
transitional nature of the housing at its inception.
D. Rental units in a nonprofit facility which provides a structured living
environment that has the primary purpose of helping homeless persons obtain
the skills necessary for independent living in permanent housing and where
occupancy is restricted to a limited and specific period of time of not more than
24 months and where the client has been informed in writing of the temporary or
transitional nature of the housing at its inception.
E. Rental units in a residential property where the owner of record occupies a
unit in the same property as his or her principal residence and regularly shares
in the use of kitchen or bath facilities with the tenants of such rental units. For
purposes of this section, the term owner of record shall not include any person
who claims a homeowner’s property tax exemption on any other real property in
the State of California.
F. A rental unit in a residential property that is divided into a maximum of three
(3) units, one of which is occupied by the owner of record as his or her principal
residence. For purposes of this section, the term owner of record shall not
include any person who claims a homeowner’s property tax exemption on any
other real property in the State of California.
G. A unit that is held in trust on behalf of a developmentally disabled individual
who permanently occupies the unit, or a unit that is permanently occupied by a
developmentally disabled parent, sibling, child, or grandparent of the owner of
H. Newly constructed rental units which are completed and offered for rent for
the first time after the effective date of the Oakland Residential Rent,
Relocation, and Arbitration Ordinance, provided that such new units were not
created as a result of rehabilitation, improvement or conversion as opposed to
Section 6. Good Cause Required for Eviction.
A. No landlord shall endeavor to recover possession, issue a notice terminating
tenancy, or recover possession of a rental unit in the City of Oakland unless the
landlord is able to prove the existence of one of the following grounds:
(1) The tenant has failed to pay rent to which the landlord is legally entitled
pursuant to the lease or rental agreement and under provisions of state or local
law, and said failure has continued after service on the tenant of a written notice
correctly stating the amount of rent then due and requiring its payment within a
period, stated in the notice, of not less than three (3) days. However, this
Subsection shall not constitute grounds for eviction where tenant has withheld
rent pursuant to applicable law.
(2) The tenant has continued, after written notice to cease, to substantially
violate a material term of the tenancy other than the obligation to surrender
possession on proper notice as required by law, provided further that
notwithstanding any lease provision to the contrary, a landlord shall not
endeavor to recover possession of a rental unit as a result of subletting of the
rental unit by the tenant if the landlord has unreasonably withheld the right to
sublet following a written request by the tenant, so long as the tenant continues
to reside in the rental unit and the sublet constitutes a one-for-one replacement
of the departing tenant(s). If the landlord fails to respond to the tenant in writing
within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the tenant’s written request, the tenant’s
request shall be deemed approved by the landlord.
(3) The tenant, who had an oral or written agreement with the landlord which
has terminated, has refused after written request or demand by the landlord to
execute a written extension or renewal thereof for a further term of like duration
and under such terms which are materially the same as in the previous
agreement; provided, that such terms do not conflict with any of the provisions
of this Chapter
(4) The tenant has willfully caused substantial damage to the premises beyond
normal wear and tear and, after written notice, has refused to cease damaging
the premises, or has refused to either make satisfactory correction or to pay
the reasonable costs of repairing such damage over a reasonable period of
(5) The tenant has continued, following written notice to cease, to be so
disorderly as to destroy the peace and quiet of other tenants at the property.
(6) The tenant has used the rental unit or the common areas of the premises for
an illegal purpose including the manufacture, sale, or use of illegal drugs.
(7) The tenant has, after written notice to cease, continued to deny landlord
access to the unit as required by state law.
(8) The owner of record seeks in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with
honest intent, to recover possession of the rental unit for his or her occupancy
as a principal residence where he or she has previously occupied the rental unit
as his or her principal residence and has the right to recover possession for his
or her occupancy as a principal residence under a written rental agreement with
the current tenants.
(9) The owner of record seeks in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with
honest intent, to recover possession for his or her own use and occupancy as
his or her principal residence, or for the use and occupancy as a principal
residence by the owner of record’s spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, or
(a) Where the owner of record recovers possession under this
Subsection (9), and where continuous occupancy for the purpose of
recovery is less than thirty-six (36) months, such recovery of the
residential unit shall be a presumed violation of this Ordinance.
(b) The owner of record may not recover possession pursuant to this
Subsection more than once in any thirty-six (36) month period.
(c) The owner must move in to unit within three (3) months of the
tenant’s vacation of the premises.
(d) When the owner seeking possession of a unit under Section 6(A)(9)
owns a similar vacant unit, the owner's decision not to occupy said
similar unit shall create a rebuttable presumption that they are seeking
to recover possession in bad faith.
(e) A landlord may not recover possession of a unit from a tenant under
Subsection 6(A)(9), if the landlord has or receives notice, any time before
recovery of possession, that any tenant in the rental unit:
(i) Has been residing in the unit for 5 years or more; and
(a) is 60 years of age or older; or
(b) is a disabled tenant as defined in the California Fair
Employment and Housing Act (California Government
Code §12926); or
(ii) Has been residing in the unit for five (5) years or more, and is a
catastrophically ill tenant, defined as a person who is disabled as
defined by Subsection (e)(i)(b) and who suffers from a life
threatening illness as certified by his or her primary care
(f) The provisions of Subsection(e) above shall not apply where the
landlord's qualified relative who will move into the unit is 60 years of age
or older, disabled or catastrophically ill as defined by Subsection (e), and
where every rental unit owned by the landlord is occupied by a tenant
otherwise protected from eviction by Subsection(e).
(g) A tenant who claims to be a member of one of the classes protected
by subsection 6(A)(9)(e) must submit a statement, with supporting
evidence, to the landlord. A landlord may challenge a tenant’s claim of
protected status by requesting a hearing with the Rent Board. In the
Rent Board hearing, the tenant shall have the burden of proof to show
protected status. No civil or criminal liability shall be imposed upon a
landlord for challenging a tenant’s claim of protected status. The Rent
Board shall adopt rules and regulations to implement the hearing
(h) Once a landlord has successfully recovered possession of a rental
unit pursuant to Subsection 6(A)(9), no other current landlords may
recover possession of any other rental unit in the building under
Subsection 6(A)(9). Only one specific unit per building may undergo a
Subsection 6(A)(9) eviction. Any future evictions taking place in the
same building under Subsection 6(A)(9) must be of that same unit,
provided that a landlord may file a petition with the Rent Board or, at the
landlord’s option, commence eviction proceedings, claiming that
disability or other similar hardship prevents him or her from occupying a
unit which was previously the subject of a Subsection 6(A)(9) eviction.
The Rent Board shall adopt rules and regulations to implement the
(i) A notice terminating tenancy under this Subsection must contain, in
addition to the provisions required under Subsection 6(B)(5):
(i) A listing of all property owned by the intended future
(ii) The address of the real property, if any, on which the intended
future occupant(s) claims a homeowner’s property tax exemption.
(iii) A statement informing tenant of his or her rights under
(10) The owner of record, after having obtained all necessary permits from the
City of Oakland on or before the date upon which notice to vacate is given,
seeks in good faith to undertake substantial repairs that cannot be completed
while the unit is occupied, and that are necessary either to bring the property
into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting health and safety of
tenants of the building, or under an outstanding notice of code violations
affecting the health and safety of tenants of the building.
(a) Upon recovery of possession of the rental unit, owner of record shall
proceed without unreasonable delay to effect the needed repairs. The
tenant shall not be required to vacate pursuant to this Section, for a
period in excess of three months; provided, however, that such time
period may be extended by the Rent Board upon application by the
landlord. The Rent Board shall adopt rules and regulations to implement
the application procedure.
(b) Upon completion of the needed repairs, owner of record shall offer
tenant the first right to return to the premises at the same rent and
pursuant to a rental agreement of substantially the same terms, subject
to the owner of record’s right to obtain rent increase for capital
improvements consistent with the terms of the Oakland Residential Rent
Arbitration Ordinance or any successor ordinance.
(c) A notice terminating tenancy under this Subsection (6(A)(10)) must
include the following information:
(i) A statement informing tenants as to their right to payment
under the Oakland Relocation Ordinance.
(ii) A statement that “When the needed repairs are completed on
your unit, the landlord must offer you the opportunity to return to
your unit with a rental agreement containing the same terms as
your original one and with the same rent (although landlord may
be able to obtain a rent increase under the Oakland Residential
Rent Arbitration Ordinance).”
(iii) A statement informing tenant of his or her rights under
(iv) An estimate of the time required to complete the repairs, and
the date upon which it is expected that the unit will be ready for
(11) The owner of record seeks in good faith, without ulterior reasons and with
honest intent, to remove the property from the rental market in accordance with
the terms of the Ellis Act (California Government Code Section 7060 et seq.).
B. The following additional provisions shall apply to a landlord who seeks to
recover a rental unit pursuant to Subsection 6(A):
(1) The burden of proof shall be on the landlord in any eviction action to which
this order is applicable to prove compliance with Section 6.
(2) A landlord shall not endeavor to recover possession of a rental unit unless at
least one of the grounds enumerated in Subsection 6(A) above is stated in the
notice and that ground is the landlord's dominant motive for recovering
possession and the landlord acts in good faith in seeking to recover
(3) Where a landlord seeks to evict a tenant under a just cause ground
specified in Subsections 6(A)(7, 8, 9, 10, 11), she or he must do so according
to the process established in CCC §1946 (or successor provisions providing for
30 day notice period); where a landlord seeks to evict a tenant for the grounds
specified in Subsections 6(A)(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), she or he must do so according
to the process established in CCP §1161 (or successor provisions providing for
3 day notice period).
(4) Any written notice as described in Subsection 6(A)(2, 3, 4, 5, 7) shall be
served by the landlord prior to a notice to terminate tenancy and shall include a
provision informing tenant that a failure to cure may result in the initiation of
(5) Subsection 6(B)(3) shall not be construed to obviate the need for a notice
terminating tenancy to be stated in the alternative where so required under CCP
(6) A notice terminating tenancy must additionally include the following:
(a) A statement setting forth the basis for eviction, as described in
Subsections 6(A)(1) through 6(A)(11);
(b) A statement that advice regarding the notice terminating tenancy is
available from the Rent Board.
(c) Where an eviction is based on the ground specified in Subsection
6(A)(9), the notice must additionally contain the provisions specified in
(d) Where an eviction is based on the ground specified in Subsection
6(A)(10), the notice must additionally contain the provisions specified in
(e) Failure to include any of the required statements in the notice shall
be a defense to any unlawful detainer action.
(7) Within ten (10) days of service of a notice terminating tenancy upon a
tenant, a copy of the same notice and any accompanying materials must be
filed with the Rent Board. Each notice shall be indexed by property address and
by the name of the landlord. Such notices shall constitute public records of the
City of Oakland, and shall be maintained by the Rent Board and made available
for inspection during normal business hours. Failure to file the notice within 10
days of service shall be a defense to any unlawful detainer action.
C. The following additional provisions shall apply to a landlord who seeks to
recover a rental unit pursuant to Subsections 6(A)(9) or (10):
(1) Where the landlord owns any other residential rental units, and any such
unit is available or will become available between the time of service of written
notice terminating tenancy and the earlier of the surrender of possession of the
premises or the execution of a writ of possession pursuant to the judgment of a
court of competent jurisdiction, the landlord shall, as a condition of obtaining
possession pursuant to Section 6, notify tenant in writing of the existence and
address of each such vacant unit and offer tenant the right to choose any
available rental unit and at the tenant’s option: i) to enter into a temporary rental
agreement; or ii) to enter into a new rental agreement. The landlord shall offer
that unit to the tenant at a rent based on the rent that the tenant is currently
paying, with upward or downward adjustments allowed based upon the
condition, size, and other amenities of the replacement unit. Disputes
concerning the initial rent for the replacement unit shall be determined by the
(2) The following shall be considered rebuttably presumptive violations of this
Ordinance by the landlord:
(a) Where the event which the landlord claims as grounds to recover
possession under Subsection 6(A)(9) or (10) is not initiated within three
(3) months after the tenant vacates the unit.
(b) Where a landlord times the service of the notice, or the filing of an
action to recover possession, so as to avoid offering a tenant a
(c) Where the individual (a landlord or qualified relative) for whom the
Subsection 6(A)(9) eviction occurred does not occupy a unit for a
minimum of thirty-six (36) consecutive months.
D. Substantive limitations on landlord’s right to evict.
(1) In any action to recover possession of a rental unit pursuant to Section 6, a
landlord must allege and prove the following:
(a) the basis for eviction, as set forth in Subsection 6(A)(1) through
6(A)(11) above, was set forth in the notice of termination of tenancy or
notice to quit;
(b) that the landlord seeks to recover possession of the unit with good
faith, honest intent and with no ulterior motive;
(2) If landlord claims the unit is exempt from this Ordinance, landlord must
allege and prove that the unit is covered by one of the exceptions enumerated in
Section 5 of this Ordinance. Such allegations must appear both in the notice of
termination of tenancy or notice to quit, and in the complaint to recover
possession. Failure to make such allegations in the notice shall be a defense
to any unlawful detainer action.
(3) This Subsection (D) is intended as both a substantive and procedural
limitation on a landlord’s right to evict. A landlord’s failure to comply with the
obligations described in Subsections 7(D)(1) or (2) shall be a defense to any
action for possession of a rental unit.
E. In the event that new state or federal legislation confers a right upon
landlords to evict tenants for a reason not stated herein, evictions proceeding
under such legislation shall conform to the specifications set out in this
Section 7. Remedies.
A. Remedies for violation of eviction controls.
(1) A tenant who prevails in an action brought by a landlord for possession of
the premises shall be entitled to bring an action against the landlord and shall
be entitled to recover actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable
(2) Whenever a landlord or anyone assisting a landlord wrongfully endeavors to
recover possession or recovers possession of a rental unit in violation of
Subsection 6(A), the tenant or Board may institute a civil proceeding for
injunctive relief, money damages of not less than three times actual damages
(including damages for mental or emotional distress), and whatever other relief
the court deems appropriate. In the case of an award of damages for mental or
emotional distress, said award shall only be trebled if the trier of fact finds that
the landlord acted in knowing violation of or in reckless disregard of this
Ordinance. The prevailing tenant shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees
and costs pursuant to order of the court.
(3) The remedies available in this section shall be in addition to any other
existing remedies which may be available to the tenant.
B. Violation of the Ordinance.
Any violation of the provisions of this ordinance or application thereof shall
entitle the aggrieved tenant to actual and punitive damages according to proof
and costs and attorney’s fees.
C. Authorization of City Attorney to enforce the Ordinance.
The City Attorney shall have the authority to enforce provisions of this
Ordinance; to bring actions for injunctive relief on behalf of the City, or on behalf
of tenants seeking compliance by landlords with the Ordinance.
D. It shall be unlawful for a landlord to refuse to rent or lease or otherwise deny
to or withhold from any person any rental unit because the age of a prospective
tenant would result in the tenant acquiring rights under this Ordinance. Any
person who refuses to rent in violation of the Subsection shall, in addition to any
other penalties provided by state or federal law, be guilty of a misdemeanor.
E. It shall be unlawful for a landlord or any other person who willfully assists the
landlord to endeavor to recover possession or to evict a tenant except as
provided in Subsection 6(A).
Section 8. Non-Waiverability.
The provisions of this ordinance may not be waived, and any term of any lease,
contract, or other agreement which purports to waive or limit a tenant’s
substantive or procedural rights under this ordinance are contrary to public
policy, unenforceable, and void.
Section 9. Partial Invalidity.
If any provision of this ordinance or application thereof is held to be invalid, this
invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter which
can be given effect without the invalid provisions or applications, and to this end
the provisions and applications of this ordinance are severable.