OAKLAND – Following fierce protests from property owners against the city’s pandemic ban on evictions, officials on Thursday presented plans to wind down the moratorium.
An ordinance to potentially end tenant protections that ban most evictions is likely to be heard by the city council next month, following discussion by a council committee on April 11.
But at the same time, councilors will also have the ability to strengthen the city’s “just” policies that make it harder for landlords to evict tenants who pay the first 12 months of rent.
Most of the Bay Area passed moratoria on evictions in the early days of the pandemic, but Oakland is keeping the ban much longer than other cities. San Francisco, Berkeley and San Leandro have also yet to end protections.
Tenant rights advocates have urged cities to stick to their moratoriums, arguing that many workers in the region are still dealing with post-COVID economic stress.
But City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said Thursday she had been consulting with experts over the past few days about how the city could “phase out” those policies.
“This has been in the works for some time and I am actively talking to people to let them know that I would plan it,” Bas said in the municipality’s regulations committee, which determines future agenda items.
Under the new ordinance, landlords must still prove that tenants have violated the terms of their lease, and give three days’ notice for unpaid rent before evicting.
In addition, tenants can still avoid being evicted if they can demonstrate lost income or other financial hardship due to COVID-related setbacks, according to Bas and council member Dan Kalb’s proposal.
On Tuesday, some Oakland landlords staged a demonstration against the moratorium in the council meeting room, forcing Bas to stop the meeting and ask for security. Earlier in February, landlords also closed a meeting of supervisors in Alameda County amid a widespread hunger strike by Jingyu Wu, a landlord who said he was going bankrupt because he was not receiving enough rent from his property in San Leandro.
Chris Moore, an outspoken representative of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, said Thursday that the city’s moratorium is “bankrupting” Oakland’s landlords.
The moratorium, he said in an email, “largely puts small and local housing providers out of business and in turn reduces the supply of housing in the community.”