OAKLAND — The city will establish a “rent registry” database so anyone can find out who owns rental housing in Oakland, how much they charge rent and how often they have raised it.
Under a plan put forward by managers overseeing the rent adjustment program and unanimously approved by city council on Tuesday, landlords will be required to submit information about their units to the city each year.
Failure to do so would prevent them from asking for rent increases above certain ceilings or responding to requests from tenants objecting to higher rents.
In addition to giving city officials and the public a better picture of what rent prices and evictions look like across the city, the rent registry would allow Oakland to more actively enforce its tenancy rules, a said Chanée Franklin Minor, head of the rent adjustment program.
Currently, tenants must file petitions to fight rent increase notices and then get a legally binding decision from the city’s program on how much more they will have to pay.
But with a rent registry, city staff could track authorized rent increases and ensure landlords follow city laws on rent and just cause evictions.
Franklin Minor said the next step is to seek offers from companies interested in launching a database.
The city has already allocated about $500,000 in the budget for initial research and start-up costs, and program staff hope to launch the registry in early 2023.
The rent registry would apply to units covered by the city’s rent control ordinance, which includes those in most multifamily properties built before 1983, as well as those covered by the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. The ordinance includes most rental units or single-family homes built in 1995 or earlier, as well as units whose rents are regulated by local government agencies such as the Oakland Housing Authority.
“Having more data to inform policy is exactly what we need,” council member Loren Taylor said.
Council member Carroll Fife said the register is a way “to make sure housing is fair. I’m excited and thrilled about what this means for our city.
In another housing-related action, Fife has pushed council to place a measure on the November ballot that would allow the city to build up to 13,000 low-cost social housing units.
The measure does not provide funding or identify specific projects, but it lays the groundwork for building the units. Under the state constitution, the city cannot develop, build, or acquire “low-rent public housing” without voter approval.
“This exemption is a relic of a segregationist past that is necessary for the City of Oakland to be very direct and upfront about the resolution,” Fife said. “Section 34 is a law passed in 1950 that required voters to decide whether or not low-income housing could be built.”
Oakland’s Housing Element Annual Progress Report for 2020 shows the city had only met 43% of its regional housing need allocation targets for ultra-low-income housing and only 25% for low-income housing. The new Regional Housing Needs Allocation Plan calls for Oakland to build 6,511 ultra-low-income homes and 3,750 low-income homes between 2023 and 2031.
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Post expires at 11:23pm on Tuesday June 21st, 2022