San Francisco Chronicle
Oakland mulls ending pandemic-era eviction moratorium
Oakland will consider winding down over the next year an eviction moratorium enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic — a decision that comes two days after landlords stormed a City Council meeting demanding an end to the rule.
Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and Council Member Dan Kalb will introduce legislation Thursday that “phases out” the city’s eviction moratorium, which protected tenants from eviction during the crisis. Bas and Kalb have been working on the legislation for weeks, officials said.
Currently, Oakland residents are prohibited from evicting tenants over COVID-related rent debt. Similar to other cities, Oakland passed its eviction moratorium in March 2020 to protect tenants from losing their homes if they couldn’t pay rent due to job losses or other economic hardship spurred by the pandemic. Evictions could still occur if the tenant created a health or safety threat at the property or if the landlord was removing the unit from the rental market for at least 10 years.
Oakland is one of many cities in the region under pressure from landlords to put an end to pandemic-era prohibitions on evictions while trying to ensure that lifting them won’t result in a flurry of evictions that could leave some people homeless.
“This proposal will revoke the eviction moratorium in phases in order to help avoid a surge of evictions leading to an increase in homelessness, and allowing property owners to proceed with urgent evictions,” Bas wrote in a press release.
San Francisco approved a similar plan this month to wind down its eviction moratorium and Berkeley extended its moratorium until the end of August. Alameda County will end its eviction moratorium at the end of April.
Oakland’s ordinance will establish a timeline for how to end the protections. Starting on May 1, landlords can evict tenants for nonpayment of rent if they cannot show proof of COVID hardship. After Sept. 1, the moratorium will be fully lifted. After July 1, 2024, the moratorium on rent increases will be lifted.
Bas and Kalb’s proposed ordinance also includes a number of new protections for tenants. If tenants are unable to pay rent prior to Sept. 1 due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic, they will have access to a lawyer.
In addition, a tenant cannot be evicted for owing less than one month of fair market rent, Bas and Kalb said in a press release.
The City Council is expected to vote on the legislation on April 18.