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Know Your Rights as a Tenant
Landlords are required to provide “notices” to inform tenants of a variety of different situations. These is a list of notices you should receive:
- Rent Adjustment Program Notification ("RAP Notice"): Owners must give tenants the "Notice to Tenants of the Residential Rent Adjustment Program," also known as the "RAP Notice," at the start of the tenancy and with every notice of change of terms of tenancy thereafter, including notices of rent increase. The RAP Notice advises tenants about the Rent Adjustment Program and their rights as tenants.
- Rent Increase Notification: When the Owner gives notice of a rent increase, there must be a new RAP Notice attached. Notices of rent increase given without a RAP Notice are invalid, if challenged. Failure to provide tenants with proper notice can extend the time that tenants have to file petitions challenging rent increases.Learn more about allowable rent increases.
- Enhanced Notice Required for Capital Improvement Increases: Owners must provide tenants with the "Enhanced Notice" form when a rental increase is based on Capital Improvements.
Some units are exempt from the application of the Rent Adjustment Law. If a petition is filed challenging a rent increase, and the owner believes the unit is not covered, the owner may respond to the petition and prove the unit is exempt. An owner may also file a petition to Obtain a Certificate of Exemption.
Rent Increase Limits
Increases are limited to the CPI adjustment announced each year by the Residential Rent Adjustment Program unless the landlord can justify a higher amount. The law limits these to specific reasons for a higher rent increase.
- Only one increase is allowed in a twelve month period.
- Generally, if tenants do not file a petition within 60 days of receiving a rent increase, they will lose their rights to challenge the increase.
- In most cases, there is no limit on increases when a tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in. Once the new tenant moves in, future increases are limited by the Rent Law.
Tenant Challenges to Rent Increases
Tenants may challenge a rent increase if they believe it is more than the allowable amount. To challenge an increase, a tenant must file a petition within 60 days of service of the notice of rent increase (or within 60 days of first receiving a Rent Board form Notice to Tenants of the existence of the Rent Adjustment Program from the landlord, whichever is later).
- Once a petition is received, owners must file a response.
- Petitions and responses are considered filed when RECEIVED by the Rent Adjustment Program office.
- If tenants do not file a petition on time they waive their right to challenge a rent increase.
Landlord Responses When a Tenant Contests a Rent Increase
Upon receipt of a petition to contest a rent increase, a Rent Adjustment Program staff member notifies the landlord of the tenant's complaint. Landlords are required to file a response form and provide documents supporting their claimed justification for any increase more than the annual general CPI adjustment allowed.
An owner may petition for pre-approval of an increase. Capital improvements must be claimed within 2 years of completion and payment. Owners may also petition for a Certificate of Exemption.
Petition and response forms are available online (click here for owner forms or here for renter forms) or from the Rent Adjustment Program Office. There is NO FILING FEE for any petition, response or appeal.
Voluntary mediation of rent disputes is available to parties with open Rent Adjustment cases.
- Mediation will be scheduled, if the parties’ so request, after filing of both a petition and a response with the Rent Adjustment Program.
- If you are interested in attempting to mediate your case, you will have the choice between a trained Rent Adjustment Program staff member acting as mediator or an outside mediator.
- Staff mediators are available to conduct mediations free of charge.
- If you do not wish to have a staff Hearing Officer mediate your rent dispute, you may use an outside mediator. Fees charged by an outside mediator will be the responsibility of the parties.
Rent Program Service Fee
A Rent Program service fee of $30 per year is charged to owners. Owners who pay the fee on time are generally allowed to pass through $15 of this fee to tenants. However, the fee cannot be added to the base rent when calculating a rent increase.
Click here for more information.
Eviction Controls (Measure EE - "Just Cause")
Effective January 1, 2003 the citizens of Oakland enacted Ballot Measure EE- the Just Cause Eviction initiative ordinance. Landlords in the City of Oakland are prohibited by law from terminating a tenancy without one of the just causes specified in the Ordinance. Complete copies of Measure EE and the Just Cause Regulations are available on our website.
General information about evictions is available from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Counseling, Rights, and Legal Advice - For legal counseling, advice and representation about rent increases and the Rent Adjustment Ordinance, see our Housing Services & Counseling page.
- Help with Rental Payments and Deposits - Contact the Rental Assistance Program for resources to help those who are at risk of eviction or homelessness.
- Other Disputes - For assistance with landlord/tenant disputes not related to rental rates or increases, see the rental disputes page.
Assistance Finding Rental Housing
A number of resources are available to assist tenants to find available rental housing, including assisted or subsidized housing.