For the next six months, Oakland landlords won’t be able to raise rents on properties under rent control after making repairs to them.
Oakland and San Francisco are the only two cities in the state that have “substantial rehabilitation exemptions” to rent stabilization ordinances, according to a report supporting the moratorium proposed by City Council members Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan. Council members voted Tuesday to impose the moratorium on granting the exemptions.
San Francisco’s substantial rehabilitation is “considerably more restrictive than Oakland’s,” the report said. Only 19 exemptions have been granted in San Francisco in the past 20 years, while 35 have been granted in just the past six years in Oakland, according to the report.
“I think the magnitude of the problem we face is very clear, that we have people being displaced through all kinds of inappropriate tactics,” Kaplan said at the council meeting. “Our whole community is suffering.”
The exemption was adopted in 1980 to encourage landlords to improve rental units by allowing them to recover revenue lost from vacancy, the report said. Since then, market rents have “dramatically increased.” A similar exemption in Los Angeles ended in 1989 after a survey showed the program resulted in displacement and led to gentrification when tenants weren’t able to afford the higher rents.
“This was a way to add units to the supply, not take them away,” said James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union. “Today, developers have seen this as a loophole, and now they are rushing to get through it.”
The moratorium gives city officials time to “consider modifying or eliminating” the exemption, the report said.
“We will need to make some serious amendments and restrictions, if not get rid of it in the next six months,” Kalb said.