Guide to Oakland Rental Housing Laws

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, knowing the rules and regulations regarding your area's rental housing laws are essential. As a tenant, it is crucial to understand what your rights and responsibilities are. That is the only way to be safe from eviction, lawful or unlawful, and possibly financial trouble. Similarly, as a landlord, you need to know how to respect your tenants' rights and have a good relationship with them, as well as not break any laws. Therefore, here are some vital pieces of information regarding Oakland rental housing laws.

If you are considering moving to Oakland, renting a place is probably a reality before buying your own property. So, after an easy relocation to Oakland, it is good to ensure that you also have an easy tenancy. 


Security Deposits

If you have ever been a tenant, you know that you have to pay a security deposit at the beginning of your tenancy. This advance rent payment will go into damage repairs, cleaning, or recovering rent defaults if you fail to pay the rent. It may be necessary to note that the rent you pay for the first month is not a security deposit. Typically, the amount you pay for a security deposit doesn't exceed two monthly rents for an unfurnished apartment or three monthly rents for a furnished one. 

During your tenancy, your landlord can use this money to cover particular expenses. These include:

  • Covering rent defaults

  • Repairing the damage caused by the tenant or their guest (normal wear and tear excluded)

  • Cleaning

  • Covering the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, keys, other personal property (again, regular wear and tear is excluded)

Once you decide to vacate the property, you must give your landlord a 30-day notice. During the last two weeks of tenancy, the property owner must inform tenants that they have the right to request an inspection to see if there is a need for repairs or cleaning so they can avoid deductions from their security deposit.


How high the security deposit is will depend on whether the unit is furnished or not.

Alt: An unfurnished apartment for rent, representing Oakland rental housing laws

If the deductions exceed $125, the landlord must present the tenant with a list of itemized repairs and cleaning deductions. Finally, the landlord must either return the full security deposit or the remainder with a list of deductions within 21 days after the tenant vacates the unit.


Should the landlord fail to return the full security deposit or the itemized list of deductions within three weeks, the tenant can compose a letter requesting their deposit back or the deductions. If the property owner doesn't comply, the tenant can file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court for up to $10,000. Also, if the landlord withheld the deposit in bad faith, the tenant has a right to demand up to twice the security deposit amount.

Annual Rent Increase

Only one rent increase is allowed over one year. It cannot happen earlier than 12 months after you have moved in or after the last increase. Rent increases occur as per the Allowable Annual Rent Increase provided by the Oakland Rent Adjustment Ordinance. It is determined by the regional Consumer Price Index (CPI), which takes effect every year on July 1.

Your landlord also has to notify you of the rent increase in writing 30 days prior if the increase is up to 10% and 60 days prior if it is higher. However, it is worth noting that Oakland rental housing laws prohibit rent increases above 10%.


A landlord only has the right to evict a tenant if they have a just cause. Keep in mind that under Oakland rental housing laws, the expiration of a rental agreement, the sale of a property, foreclosures, condominium conversion are not "just causes" for eviction.

Just Eviction Causes

  • Failing to pay the rent

  • There has been a material violation of the rental agreement after a written notice to stop with such activities

  • Refusing to sign a new lease that contains the terms as the old one for the most part

  • Causing considerable damage to the apartment

  • There has been unlawful activity in the unit

  • Continuing to disturb the peace and quiet of other tenants even after the written warning

  • Not allowing the landlord to access the unit to make repairs, after receiving the notice

  • The unit is the property owner's primary residence, and they want to move back, as specified in the rental agreement

  • The property owner wants to use the unit as a primary residence (it can be the primary residence of their spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, or child)

  • The owner decides to withdraw the unit from the rental market following the state law

  • The owner wants to perform substantial repairs which are not possible to conduct while the unit is occupied and which can impact the health and safety of the occupants

The first step of terminating the tenancy is sending the termination notice. The property owner must send the current legal notice to the tenant. Then, the tenant may have lawful grounds to challenge the notice and later the eviction. Also, the landlord must file a copy of the eviction notice to the Rent Adjustment Program no longer than ten days after they have sent it to the tenant.


Tenant Protection Ordinance

Know your rights before you become a tenant.

Alt: A for rent sign and a phone number on a window

Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) prohibits various behaviors against tenants by the property owner or property managers. It prohibits any behaviors that would coerce a tenant to vacate the property involuntarily. These include:

  • Failing to perform repairs and maintenance

  • Abusing the right of access to the unit




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