Oakland: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back?

stairsRefusal to repair can be considered harassment in Oakland, but before you get too jealous that Oakland finally got an Anti-Harassment Law – there is a BIG catch: tenants will have to enforce the law by suing landlords – the city has no enforcement mechanism at all. So even though Oakland now defines actions such as repeated bogus eviction attempts, refusal to make repairs, and threats to report renters to immigration as harassment, tenants without the means to hire an attorney might not benefit from the new rules.

Such additional protections against harassment have been discussed often but never developed by our elected leaders. San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Santa Monica and West Hollywood are other Rent Control cities that have similar laws. If Berkeley renters want such protections, they will have to organize like Oakland renters did!

There is also an exemption in Oakland for new construction.

“James Vann, co-founder of the Oakland Tenants Union, responded in an email to the city council, “Why should it even be suggested that owners of new construction be made free to harass and retaliate against tenants with impunity! By what rationale does that make sense?” But the exemption remained.”

More info about the law: