Oakland Measure V sails through, exposing a huge amount of housing stock to new "just cause" eviction requirements

With the majority of Oakland voters approving Measure V on election day, we now have a new legal framework to evict residential tenants. Up until now, the city's Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance (Measure EE) applied only to rental units in buildings built prior to 1996. With the passage of Measure V, tenant protections are extended to all units, including RVs and Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), except for the first 10 years after the unit is constructed.

Interestingly, the amended law also eliminates the landlord's ability to evict a tenant if he or she decides not to renew their lease. Moreover, educators and families with minor children cannot be evicted through no fault of their own during the regular school year. We've seen this before in San Francisco, where the Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance No. 55-16, an ordinance that survived judicial scrutiny after landlord groups challenged it.

Our founding attorney Daniel Bornstein told a local news outlet on the eve of decision day that Measure V would only aggravate an acute housing crisis as landlords keep scarce rental stock off the market.

The measure will also, in our view, erase the progress Oakland has made in encouraging the production of ADUs, a goal the city has worked extensively on in recent years. In contrast, Berkeley has exempted ADUs from just cause eviction protections, recognizing that it would disincentive owners from building these pint-sized units; owners want the freedom to evict renters who live alongside them or within their property.

Although we feel this is an ill-conceived policy, we have to deal with it.

What rental property owners only now familiarizing themselves with the regulations need to understand

We empathize with the many owners who are now subject to a regulatory regime that was foreign to them until now. Let's speak to them. The most important point to grasp is that tenants cannot be evicted without a permissible reason.

Oakland just cause reasons

(1) The tenant has not paid their rent

(2) The tenant has continued to violate a provision of the lease after written notice to stop.

(3) The tenant refused to sign a new lease that is identical to the old one (when the old one expires.) Measure V eliminated this.

(4) The tenant has substantially damaged the unit and refused to stop damaging it or pay for repairs after written notice.

(5) The tenant has continued to disturb other tenants and neighbors after written notice to stop.

(6) The tenant uses the unit for something illegal (like selling drugs).

(7) The tenant will not let the owner into the apartment, even with a 24 hours written notice.

(8) The owner wants to move back into the unit, if allowed by a written agreement with the tenant or it is allowed by the lease.

(9) The owner or family member wishes to move into the unit. Except if the tenant is 60 years or older, disabled, or catastrophically ill.

(10) The owner wants to remove the unit from the market through the Ellis Act.

(11) The owner wants to perform substantial upgrades to the unit which cannot be completed with the tenant living there.


Absent one of the just causes above, landlords cannot evict. If a just cause is found, owners who have enjoyed an exemption from the ordinance will now get acquainted with the Oakland Rent Board. That's because, within 10 days of serving an eviction notice, a copy of the notice and accompanying materials must be filed with the Rent Board. This administrative body also hears grievances from tenants.

Rental property owners must also pay an annual Rent Adjustment Program fee. This fee is currently set at $101 per unit, although half of this expense can be passed onto the tenant. This doesn't seem to be all that cumbersome right? Well, wait till March.


Oakland's newfangled rent registry

It's still in its early stages of development and rather dysfunctional thus far, but come March, rental property owners who are subject to either the Rent Adjustment Ordinance or the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance will need to volunteer reams of information about their property and any tenancies. The public policy behind this is to not only gather information for lawmakers and other stakeholders to identify problems and make informed decisions, but to also give tenants an opportunity to correct false statements and voice their concerns.


Parting thoughts

Regrettably, there will be many owners who will be disappointed to discover their property is now subject to a new set of complicated rules and that it is "until death do us part" with tenants unless there is a just cause reason to evict.

New laws engender questions but Bornstein Law can answer them. This may be intimidating at first glance, but with proper guidance, you or your clients can navigate new laws with the least stress and liability.