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Just Cause (law) | Security Deposits | Rent Increases | City Resources | Tenants' Advocates

Just Cause

Oakland is a Just Cause City. Section 8.22.300 of the Oakland Municipal Code (Measure EE) states that tenants in Oakland cannot be evicted without just cause. The entire ordinance is here. Tenants of residential units can ONLY be evicted for the following eleven reasons: (source)

1. Failure to pay rent;
2. Breach of lease;
3. Failure to sign a lease extension that is materially the same as the original lease;
4. Willful and substantial damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear;
5. Disorderly conduct that destroys the peace and quiet of other tenants;
6. Use of the premises for an illegal purpose including the manufacture, sale, or use of illegal drugs;
7. Continued denial of landlord access in violation of Civil Code section 1954;
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 grandparent;
10. Temporary relocation for three months for substantial repairs; and
11. The owner of record seeks to permanently remove the unit from the housing market (also known as an Ellis Act eviction).

Security Deposits

  • There is a limit to how much landlords can charge for security deposits. Under California landlord-tenant laws (California Civil Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5(g).), the security deposit can be the equivalent of two months' rent if the residence is unfurnished, and three months' rent if the residence is furnished. If you have a water bed, the landlord can add an extra one-half month's rent if the tenant has a waterbed. Landlords may not charge nonrefundable fees in California. (source)
  • Security deposits must be returned in full within 3 weeks after you move out, as long as you are caught up on rent and the unit is in the same condition as when you moved in. (Note: security deposits can't be used toward last month's rent unless your lease allows it.)
  • If you request it, your landlord has to come and inspect your apartment. If they find anything that they would charge for, they have to provide a list. Fix these things first and the landlord can't deduct. Request the inspection in writing: they can't withhold money for anything that wasn't in the report unless they're new problems.
  • "If you have moved out and the security deposit has not been returned within 21 days after your move out date, the landlord must send you either the full security deposit or an itemized list of any deductions that were taken from your deposit (within 21 days). If this time has gone by and you haven't received your deposit, write to the owners asking for your deposit back. Tell them that they are legally required to return your deposit to you. Keep a copy of your letter. If you still haven't heard back after a couple of weeks, or if the landlord has made deductions for something that isn't your fault, you can sue your landlord in Small Claims Court. For help, call the Small Claims Court counseling line at 510.268.7665. Spanish-speaking counselors may be available." -Causa Justa
  • Breaking your lease may not be reason for withholding your security deposit. Check with a tenant's rights group.

Rent Increases

Oakland has rent control, sort of.

  • The annual rent increase is 2.1% through June 30, 2014. According to the city website, "Tenants may only be given one increase in any 12-month period, and the rent increase cannot take effect earlier than the tenant's Anniversary Date. In addition, California law requires that tenants be provided with either 30 days (for increases 10% or less) or 60 days (for increases greater than 10%) written advance notice of a rent increase. Covered units may not receive a CPI increase of more than 3X the current year CPI."
  • However, state law exempts single unit housing from rent control, which means that only apartment dwellers are protected by this law.

City Resources

Tenants' Advocates