OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL ENACTS COVID 19 EMERGENCY TENANT ORDINANCE

Many Oaklanders have already heard about this, but to make sure you all know:  In this era of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, City Council and Council committee meetings will be rare but not non-existent (there were few in the last days of March, and just one meeting of any kind is presently set in April, a Council meeting on April 7).  And for the time being, pursuant to Governor Newsom’s order, meetings will be telephonic.  In that regard, Council held an emergency meeting on Friday, March 27, and enacted an emergency measure providing tenant and other protections.

Notice of the meeting to consider the measure was so brief MOBN! had no time to schedule telephonic appearances and express views.  But it is certainly critical for Oaklanders to know about it.  And among the key elements of the ordinance, passed on one reading as an emergency ordinance, are the following:

  • The Oakland City Administrator issued a proclamation of Local Emergency which was ratified by the Oakland City Council, and is presently deemed to extend to May 31.
  • Except when a tenant poses an imminent threat to the health or safety of other occupants of the property, and such threat is stated in the notice of termination as the grounds for the eviction, it shall be an absolute defense to any unlawful detainer action . . . that the notice was served or expired, or that the complaint was filed or served, during the Local Emergency.
  • Any notice of rent increase in excess of the CPI Rent Adjustment, as defined in Oakland Municipal Code Section 8.22.020, shall be void and unenforceable if the notice is served or has an effective date during the Local Emergency, unless required to provide a fair return. Any notice of rent increase served during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font: “During the Local Emergency declared by the City of Oakland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, your rent may not be increased in excess of the CPI Rent Adjustment (3.5% until June 30, 2020), unless required for the landlord to obtain a fair return. You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”
  • Notwithstanding any lease provision to the contrary, for residential tenancies, 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 includes, but is not limited to (1) the tenant was sick or incapacitated due to COVID-19, or was complying with a recommendation from a governmental agency to self-quarantine, (2) the tenant suffered a substantial reduction in household income because of a loss of employment or a reduction in hours, or because they were unable to work because they were caring for their child(ren) who were out of school or a household or family member who was sick with COVID-19, or because they were complying with a recommendation from a government agency to self-quarantine, and (3) the tenant incurred substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by COVID-19.  Any notice demanding late fees for rent that became due during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font:  “You are not required to pay late fees for rent that became due during the Local Emergency declared by the City of Oakland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic if the rent was late for reasons related to the pandemic. You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”
  • In any action for unlawful detainer of a commercial unit based on non-payment of rent, it shall be an absolute defense if the failure to pay rent during the local emergency was the result of a substantial decrease in income (including but not limited to a decrease caused by a reduction in hours or consumer demand) and the decrease in income was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, and is documented. This section shall only apply to small businesses as defined by Government Code Section 14837(d)(1)(A) and to nonprofit organizations. Any notice to a commercial tenant demanding rent shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font:  “If you are a small business as defined by Government Code 14837(d)(1)(a) or a non-profit organization, you may not be evicted for failure to pay rent during the if the failure was due to a substantial decrease in income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, and is documented. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.”  This section shall remain in effect until May 31, 2020, unless extended. Nothing in this section shall relieve the tenant of liability for the unpaid rent.
  • No Residential Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent that Became Due During the Local Emergency. In any action for unlawful detainer filed under Oakland Municipal Code 8.22.360.A.1, it shall be a defense that the unpaid rent became due during the Local Emergency and was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or substantial increase in expenses resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.  This includes, but is not limited to, where, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the tenant suffered a loss of employment or a reduction in hours, or was unable to work because their children were out of school, or 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 they were complying with a recommendation from a government agency to self-quarantine, or they incurred substantial out of pocket medical expenses due to COVID-19.  Any notice served on a residential tenant demanding rent that became due during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12- point type: “You may not be evicted for rent that became due during the Local Emergency if the rent was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or a substantial increase in expenses related to the Coronavirus pandemic. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.  You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”   Nothing in this subsection shall relieve the tenant of liability for the unpaid rent.

 

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