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Oakland Set to End COVID-Era Eviction Moratorium, Impacting Thousands of Renters

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Oakland’s Covid-era moratorium on residential evictions may soon come to an end, according to a proposal set to appear before the city’s Community & Economic Development Committee on April 11. City Council members plan to introduce legislation that would phase out the moratorium in stages, with an end date of September 1.

The proposed legislation suggests that unless renters can prove their inability to pay rent stems from the pandemic, the moratorium will end for them by May 1st. Oakland’s existing moratorium, enacted in March 2020, has not previously required renters to link their back rent to pandemic hardship. City leadership believed that this move would help protect even the most vulnerable renters.

However, the proposed amendments to Oakland’s Just Cause Ordinance would make some of the tenant protections provided by the eviction moratorium permanent. Under the proposed changes, landlords would need to prove that a breach of lease caused them substantial damage. Also, tenants could not be evicted if the amount they owe is less than one month’s worth of fair market rent, as determined by the federal government, among other things.

Landlord groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the moratorium and are awaiting the specifics of the proposal. Some even disrupted a March 21st Oakland City Council meeting to protest its continuation. John Protopappas, President and CEO of developer Madison Park Financial, which owns roughly 1,000 units in the East Bay and is among the plaintiffs suing the city of Oakland over its eviction moratorium, said he was waiting for the details of the ordinance, including what standards it would establish for tenants who must now prove they have been impacted by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, residential moratoriums remain in place for tenants in Berkeley and San Francisco who can prove their inability to pay rent is linked to the pandemic. Alameda County’s eviction moratorium will sunset on April 29.

It’s worth noting that the proposal has yet to be made public in its entirety. However, the preliminary details of the proposal suggest that it would end the eviction moratorium for Oakland’s renters by May 1, except for those who can prove that their inability to pay rent stems from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This ordinance could be forwarded to the Oakland City Council for approval by April 18, with a required second reading on May 2. One council member stated that she had been talking with experts in the field for some time about how to best phase out the moratorium and continue providing housing security for tenants.

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