Overview Of Oakland’s Eviction Moratorium

The Oakland Eviction Moratorium is currently one of the few eviction moratoriums still in effect in California.  It protects Oakland tenants from being evicted during the Oakland State of Emergency for nearly every reason.  Here is an overview of what the moratorium does and does not cover.

Which Rental Units Does The Moratorium Cover?

The moratorium applies to all residential tenants in the City of Oakland who are covered by Oakland’s Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, unless one of the following applies:

● The building was constructed in 1996 or later

● The tenant and landlord live in the same unit, sharing a bathroom or kitchen)

● the building is a health facility, nonprofit substance abuse treatment facility, or certain transient housing for homeless people

There is no exception for single family homes.  They are covered by the moratorium unless one of the above exceptions applies. 

What Types Of Evictions Does The Moratorium Cover?

The moratorium applies to and prevents almost every type of eviction, as it tracks the broad scope of Oakland’s Just Cause eviction ordinance. The only two exceptions to the blanket moratorium are (1) Ellis Act evictions (removing the property from the rental market), or (2) evictions because the tenant poses an imminent health or safety risk to other occupants.  The imminent health and safety threat must be stated as grounds for the eviction in the notice. 

Evictions for Nonpayment of Rent that Became Due During the Local Emergency

A property owner cannot evict a tenant for failure to pay rent during the Local Emergency if the rent was unpaid due to a substantial loss of income or an increase in expenses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to the following: (1) the tenant suffered a loss of employment or a reduction in hours; (2) the tenant was unable to work because their children were out of school; (3) the tenant was unable to work because they were sick with COVID-19 or caring for a household or family member who was sick with COVID-19; or (4) the tenant incurred substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Is Any Proof of a Covid Hardship Necessary For Non-Payment Of Rent Evictions?

In Oakland, in order to access those protections, tenants are not legally required to provide proof of a hardship.  The issue is instead raised “absolute defense” to an unlawful detainer action.

How Long Does the Eviction Moratorium Last?

The blanket ban on almost all evictions lasts as long as Oakland’s State of Emergency. The future protection for tenants related to nonpayment of rent does not expire. If a tenant cannot pay rent accrued during the State of Emergency and it was because of COVID-19, the landlord cannot ever lawfully evict the tenant for not paying. The tenant still owes that money, can’t be displaced from the dwelling because of the arrearage.  Landlords can sue for the rent in other forums– for example, in small claims court.

Does The Moratorium Prohibit Rent Increases?

The law limits rent increases for rent-controlled tenants. If the tenancy is covered by Oakland’s rent control ordinance, then during the emergency period the landlord cannot increase rent more than Oakland’s yearly CPI increase. Currently, that amount is 3.5%.

Does The Moratorium Prohibit Late Fees?

No late fees may be imposed for rent that became due during the Local Emergency if the rent was late for reasons resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  This prohibition applies regardless of whether the lease agreement authorizes late fees. 

Does The Moratorium Cover Commercial Evictions?

In Oakland, the commercial eviction defense to non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 conformed with the Governor’s Executive Order which expired on September 30, 2021. The protections that prevented commercial evictions of small businesses and non-profit organizations for nonpayment of rent ended on that date.  Accordingly, commercial evictions can go forward under the normal rules of California commercial eviction law. 

Please contact Lynx Legal Service with any questions regarding the above, or if you believe your case falls within one of the above exceptions to the moratorium.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or info@lynxlegal.com.  Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer any inquiries you may have or if you are ready to start a case.

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