The Petition Process
The Rent Adjustment Program is a petition-based system. Tenants may challenge a rent increase if they believe it is more than the allowed annual CPI increase . Rent increases above the allowable amount must meet the criteria of the ordinance. Tenants may also petition for a decrease in rent paid due to a loss in service. Effective 2/1/17, the Rent Ordinance requires property owners to petition for any rent increase not based on the CPI increase or Banking. Property owners may also petition for an exemption from the RAP for qualifying properties. Property owners may apply to remove a property from the rental market as allowed by the Ellis Act.
The petition process has 4 possible outcomes
Before filing a petition
Tenants and property owners should review the Rent Adjustment Program Ordinance to learn about the laws. Being familiar with the Ordinance may help you determine whether the issue you are facing is a violation.View Laws
Filing a petition
- There is no filing fee for any petition, response or appeal. The petition forms are available online or you can request them from the Rent Adjustment Program office. You can submit your completed forms:
- through the application portal, you can set up an account and file your petition online here;
- by mail (250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 5313, in Oakland, California); or
- in person at the Housing Assistance Center on the 6th floor.
- Please attach to the petition any copies of documents related to your case.
- You can update your contact information and add supporting documents up until 7 days before your set hearing date.
Property owner petitions
Property owners may file petitions for:
- A certificate of exemption: Property owners may petition for exemption from the Rent Adjustment Program if they meet certain qualifications.
- Approval of a rent increase above the annual CPI increase: Effective 2/1/2017, rent increases for covered units above the CPI must be pre-approved (unless otherwise specified in the Ordinance).
Tenants living in units covered by the Rent Adjustment Program may file a petition for the following reasons:
- Contest a rent increase:
- The tenant must file a petition within 90 days after notification of a rent increase was served with a RAP notice.
- The tenant must file a petition within 120 days if not served with a RAP notice.
- Report a loss of service:
- Tenants may file a petition for a service that
- is no longer offered;
- used to be covered by property owners, but the tenant is now being charged for;
- has changed substantially since move-in;
- is a serious defect in the unit that affects the health or safety in the unit.
- Tenants may file a petition for a service that
Consultants, lawyers, advocates, or other representatives may help file the petition and represent the tenant or owner during the hearing. They must be identified on the petition form or in a letter to RAP.
Rent Adjustment Program
Mail to: 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Ste. 5313 Oakland, CA 94612
Responding to a petition
Upon receipt of a petition
- Rent Adjustment staff notifies the landlord of the tenant’s complaint, or the tenant of a landlord’s petition. A copy of the original petition will be included with this notice.
- Responses from property owners or tenants must be received within 35 days of the date the RAP office mailed notification.
- When a response has been received, a copy (not including attachments) will be mailed to the opposing party or representative.
- Any supporting documents must be submitted up until 7 calendar days before the scheduled hearing date.
- Documents may be reviewed either online or by appointment
- For scheduling call Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238-3721
After filing a petition
The tenant or owner can
- Access case information or add new information through the online portal.
- Submitted evidence for up until 7 days before the hearing date.
- Contact the Program Analyst assigned to their case to address any questions/concerns
- Come to drop-in office hours Monday-Friday from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm in the Housing Assistance Center on the 6th Floor
- Review a case file either online or by appointment
- To schedule an appointment, contact the Rent Adjustment Program office at (510) 238-3721
Mediation is a voluntary meeting between tenants and property owners, presided by a trained mediator, to discuss the problem and possible solutions.The parties have the option of choosing their own outside mediator or using an assigned mediator who is a member of the RAP staff. There is no charge for a RAP staff mediator. An outside mediator may charge a fee.The goal is to assist the parties to reach an agreement rather than holding a Rent Adjustment hearing. Often disputes between the tenant and owner can be resolved more effectively through a mediation rather than a formal hearing.
Mediations are only scheduled if BOTH parties have requested this option, which you can do when filling out the petition form If the parties cannot agree in mediation, your case will go to a formal hearing before a Hearing Officer.
Hearings will be conducted in person and heard by a Hearing Officer at the Rent Adjustment Office (250 Frank Ogawa Plaza Ste 5313). Most hearings are scheduled promptly for 10am.
- All parties will be required to sign-in. Some exceptions are allowed for people to call in to the hearing.
- The Hearing Office will review the rules and process of the hearing.
- The Hearing Office will perform a roll call of everyone in attendance.
- Both parties will be given time to present their documents to the Hearing Officer to prove their side of the dispute.
- After each side presents their arguments, the other party will be able to ask them questions, also called cross-examination.
- After all parties have presented their information, they will be given an opportunity for a closing statement.
- After closing statements, the hearing will be adjourned but no decision will be made that day.
After the hearing
- The Hearing Officer will use the Rent Adjustment Program Ordinance and laws to determine the outcome of the case.
- The Hearing Office will review the case and the evidence present.
- In about 30 days, The Hearing Officer will issue a final decision based on the evidence. A copy of this decision will be mailed to all parties.
- All parties must adhere to the decision.
Before the day of the hearing, a hearing officer can issue an Administrative Decision. There are five main reasons why an Administrative Decision can be issued:
- Date Change: Under extraordinary circumstances, hearing officers may change the date of the hearing.
- Insufficient Information: Iif there is not enough information, the analyst will notify the petitioner of the missing information. If by the time the hearing is schedule there is not enough information to hold a hearing they may request an administrative decision.
- Rent Increase Rescinded: If the owner cancels the petitioned rent increase before the case an administrative hearing can be issued. To prove the increase, the owner or tenant will need to provide evidence. For example, evidence could be a letter from the owner saying the rent increase was cancelled.
- Dismissal: At any time, the petitioner can decide to dismiss, or cancel the petition. Once the RAP is notified of this dismissal an administrative decision will be issued.
- Exemption: During the Analyst review, the Analyst will confirm if the property is exempt or not covered under the RAP. If the unit is exempt an administrative decision will be issued.
Filing an appeal
Any party who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Hearing Officer may file an appeal with the Rent Board .
- You must file your appeal no later than 20 calendar days after the date the written decision was mailed.
- If the appeal is late, you must explain why and Rent Adjustment Program staff will decide whether to accept a late appeal.
- The appeal form must be completed in full and you must explain the reasons for filing the appeal. Do not exceed 25 pages.
- If your appeal is incomplete, it cannot be processed.
- Serve a copy of the appeal and attachments to the other party along with a proof of service.
- Submit all written arguments up until the 9th calendar day before your appeal hearing date.
The hearing decision is automatically suspended if an appeal is filed. The appeal forms are available online . They may also be requested or picked up in person from the Rent Adjustment Program office.
- The appeal is reviewed by the assigned Program Analyst, Hearing Officer and the Rent Adjustment Program manager.
- Only the information contained in the appeal and the records from the original hearing will be considered.
- If there is a clerical error, the Hearing Officer will issue a corrected decision. If a corrected decision is issued, the 20 day appeal period begins again.
- If a corrected decision is not issued, an appeal hearing will be scheduled with the Housing Residential Rent and Relocation Board.
- All parties will receive notice of the scheduled hearing.
- If you filed the appeal and do not appear, the Board will dismiss your case.
- The Board will listen to the arguments of the parties. The Board will deliberate publically, vote and announce the decision at the meeting.
- Staff then drafts a written appeal decision that is presented to the Board at its next meeting for approval.
- The appeal decision by the Hearing Officer will then become the final decision of the Rent Adjustment Program.
- The Board’s written decision is the final decision by the City of Oakland.
- Parties cannot appeal to the City Council. However, within 90 days they may seek judicial review of the decision with the Superior Court.