IMG_1151The Berkeley Rent Board won an important case regarding eviction threats and OMI evictions where the owner never moved in. The California Court of Appeal supported the Berkeley regulation that resets rent for new tenants at the lower controlled rent if the previous tenant moved within a year of getting an Owner Move-In notice.

In this case, a tenant who rented at 1807 Addison for 28 years and had refused informal requests to move finally got a formal eviction notice, so she made a deal, got some money, and moved. Then the owner rescinded the OMI notice. The tenants who moved in challenged their rent – which was more than double the old rent – under regulation 1016.

The regulation addresses withdrawn eviction notices for owner occupancy and states, “…if the tenant vacates within one year of the date of service of the notice, the tenancy is presumed to have been terminated by the owner as a result of the notice. The rental rate for the next tenancy established in the vacated unit shall be no more than the maximum allowed under the Rent Ordinance for the tenant who vacated.”

The Rent Board called the court decision a “victory for local control at a time when gentrification purges valued members of our community.” The Court referred to the landlord Jason Mak’s gambit as “subterfuge.”

Rent Board Press Release:
“The court ruled that when a landlord uses an eviction notice as “negotiating leverage” to secure an agreement that the tenant would “voluntarily vacate” the unit, the tenant did not actually vacate voluntarily.”
Mak press release (9-8-15)

Court Decision:
“The finding that the tenancy was terminated pursuant to the termination notice can hardly be questioned, notwithstanding the attempt to mischaracterize the situation in the agreement that Burns agreed to sign. Maintaining the rent level of the former tenant is a rational and proportional deterrent to the use of such an artifice in the future.
Mak Omi decision reg 1016

In the Papers:

Tenants In the News

Several of these stories were sent in by BTU members:


Berkeley Owners Claim Elected Officials Don’t Represent Their Interests

Development: BARF Invited, Berkeley Tenants Not


Removal of Units From Housing Market
The Housing Balance Report shows the city added 6,559 affordable housing units between 2004 and 2014. But during the same period, 5,470 apartments were “removed from protected status” through a variety of “no fault” evictions allowed by state law.

Vacation Rentals Struggle Continues in SF
Tired of relying on their Supervisors – who crafted a law that city staff explained was unenforceable, then weakened that law a few months later – tenants and hotel workers in SF have joined forces to write a ballot measure.

Chronicle does Five-part Series on Impact of Short Term Rentals


El Cerrito: Low Income Renters Displaced at RV Park

Healdsburg Continues Ban on Airbnb
And why isn’t this a no-brainer for Berkeley’s Planning Commission too?
The City Council took little time Monday evening in unanimously upholding a ban on vacation rentals in residential areas, mainly in an effort to preserve the city’s housing for residents and workers — not visitors. “Anything that takes away from potential long-term rental stock is a non-starter,” said Mayor Shaun McCaffery, noting that the lack of affordable housing has risen to the top of the civic agenda with a recent wave of escalating rents and evictions of low-income tenants.”

Sacramento Looking into Vacation Rentals
Sacramento is considering allowing landlords to rent out homes or rooms up to 30 days a year.”

Renters’ Day of Action
Tuesday February 18
Click to download a PDF

Berkeley Tenants Union members will join with tenants from around the state in the first tenant March and Rally in Sacramento in many years.

On Tuesday February 18, Tenants Together is leading member organizations like BTU to the capital. BTU members and friends are invited to hop on a bus in the morning and return by about 1 PM to the East Bay. If you live in Berkeley, please email us for more information. Sign up directly on the Tenants Together website if you are not a Berkeley tenant.

With evictions in California’s larger cities creating panic among long-term renters, it is time for solidarity. State cuts to affordable housing threaten to have long-term impacts unless restored, and elimination of the renters’ rebate in state income taxes has left low-income senior and disabled tenants with less food on the table. These are the issues we will march to support on the Renters’ Day of Action.

Signing an online petition is not enough. Even writing to your state representatives is not enough. It’s time to take to the streets!

◘ Restore the Renter’s Rebate For Seniors and Disabled

In 2008 the Governor cut the Senior Citizens Renters Tax Assistance Program from the California budget. The program allowed disabled and senior tenants making less than $44,096 a tax rebate of about $300. Fixed income renters relied on this rebate.

◘ Support the Homes and Jobs Act

State Bill 391 puts a fee on recording of real estate transactions – except home sales – which would generate $500 million a year to fund construction of housing for working people. California could use this money to leverage another $2.78 billion in federal assistance and bank loans to boost construction and create 29,000 jobs.

Homes and Jobs PDF

◘ Reform the Ellis Act

Speculators are misusing the state law to get around local tenant protections. In San Francisco, over 3,700 families have lost their homes through this type of eviction. This reform asks that local governments have more control over how Ellis evictions are carried out.

If you have not, please sign the ELLIS REFORM PETITION: