FAQ

You can file online or by mail / in person. If you file online, you will be required to set up a user account with the City of Oakland. If you choose to fill by mail or in person you will need to download a PDF of the form below.

1. What is RAP?

RAP is a City program to resolve disputes about rent-controlled units in Oakland. Learn more about RAP

2. Does the City of Oakland regulate rent increases?

Yes. Oakland has an Ordinance which regulates rent increases. (O.M.C. 8.22.010 et seq.)

3. Are all kinds of rental property covered under the Ordinance?

No. The following units are exempt from the RAP:

  • Subsidized Housing.
  • Motels, hotels if occupancy not more than 30 days.
  • Hospital, dormitory, extended care facility, etc.
  • Non-profit cooperative owned and occupied by majority of residents.
  • New construction (built after January 1st, 1983)
  • Substantial rehabilitation.
  • 3 units or less owner occupied properties.
  • The unit that an owner occupies in any building.
  • Non-profit facility-homeless/substance abuse treatment.
  • Unit in trust for developmental disabled.
  • Shared facilities with owner and tenants (bath/kitchen).
  • Costa Hawkins-Single family home or condominium.
  • Vacant units

Learn more about exemptions

4. What is the RAP Fee?

Each year property owners are required to pay a fee, currently $68, for each rental unit they own that is covered by the Rent Adjustment Ordinance or the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance (Measure EE). If the fee is paid on time, property owners are entitled to collect 1/2 of the fee ($34) from the tenant(s) of the rental unit for which the fee is paid.

5. How often can rents be raised?

Not more than once in any twelve-month period.

6. How much can rents be raised?

Rents can be raised by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) allowable rental amount which is calculated every year or by the amount of “banked” rent increases if the owner has not increased the rent every year. “Banked” increases are limited to 3 times the then current CPI and cannot be accrued for more than 10 years. The owner can also seek a rent increase based on capital improvements, increased housing service costs or fair return by filing a Petition with the Rent Adjustment Program. (RAP)

7. What can I do if my rent is raised over the allowable amount?

You have the right to file a petition with the RAP. The petition is an individual complaint form and seeks a hearing on the rent increase.

8. What is the petition filing deadline?

The petition deadline is 90 days after the rent increase notice was legally served to the tenant, providing that a form “Notice to Tenants of the Residential Rent Adjustment Program” (RAP Notice) was provided with the rent increase. If no RAP Notice was provided with the rent increase notice, but was provided in the past, the tenant has 120 days to file a petition. If the tenant has never been provided a RAP Notice, the tenant can contest all prior increases. Petitions must be received by the RAP by the deadline (postmarked is not sufficient).

9. What happens if I do not file or miss the deadline?

If you did not file a petition by the deadline, your case may be dismissed.

10. How much rent should I pay before the City makes a decision on the rent increase?

If you file an eligible petition you can pay your old rent, unless the rent increase notice specifies the current allowable CPI. If it does, you must pay your old rent plus the current allowable CPI increase. Learn more about rent increases.

11. Will the City notify me when it receives my petition?

Yes. If you file online you will receive an email confirmation. If you file by paper, you will receive a letter confirming receipt of your petition.

12. When are the hearings?

The hearings are generally held on Monday through Friday during working hours from 9-5pm. Most hearings begin at 10am.

13. What are the hearings like?

The hearings are administrative hearings and are generally similar to small claims court.

14. Are the hearings public?

Yes. These are administrative hearings and are open to the public.

15. Is there a process other than a hearing?

Yes. If the tenant and the owner agree, the RAP will schedule a mediation which will be conducted by a Hearing Officer with the program at no cost. An outside mediator can be requested, but they may charge a fee. A mediation is a confidential process in which the parties can seek to resolve their disputes. The RAP will also schedule a back-up Hearing, if the case does not settle at mediation. The back-up Hearing will be conducted by a different Hearing Officer than the one who conducts the mediation. Cases involving exemptions from the RAP program cannot be mediated. If an agreement is made at a mediation, a written Settlement Agreement will be signed.

16. What is a decreased housing service?

You can file a Tenant Petition if you believe that you are experiencing a decrease in housing services. A decrease in housing services is considered an increase in the rent pursuant to Section 8.22.070(F) of the Oakland Municipal Code. A decreased housing service may exist where a service that was originally included in the rent is taken away; where the conditions in a unit have changed substantially from the way it was when it was originally rented; and/or where there is a serious defect in the unit which affects the health or safety of the tenants (a habitability problem). For example, making the tenant pay for electricity that was originally included in the rent is a decreased housing service. Lack of heat is also a decreased service. The burden of proof is on the tenant to establish that there has been a decrease in housings services as well as the monetary value of the service that has been taken away.

17. What about health and safety problems?

Hearing Officers can consider evidence of Housing Code violations or of violations of California Civil Code Sections 1941.1 and 1941.2 and can reduce rent based on their severity. Tenants have the burden of proving this type of claim.

18. Can the Hearing Officer order repairs made?

No. The Hearing Officer can only set the amount of rent. However, a mediation agreement may provide for repairs to be made. Other programs can assist with getting repairs made, such as the City’s Code Enforcement Division.

19. When can a rent increase over the CPI be justified?

An owner may justify a rent increase based on increased expenses and economic factors. Expenses include capital improvements, increased housing service costs and fair return.

20. What limits are placed on the owner’s capital improvement and increased housing service costs claims?

Owners have to document their claims, just as tenants have to document their service and code violation claims. For example, in order to be approved for a capital improvement pass through, an owner must provide an invoice and proof of payment.

21. Can rent be raised to a new tenant?

If all the tenants in the unit are new tenants, the owner can set the rent to market rate. If there are tenants in the unit who were original occupants under a prior tenancy, the owner is limited to following the Ordinance for allowable increases. Learn more about rent increases

22. My security deposit is being increased. Can you do something about it?

Security deposits are governed by State rather than City law.

23. What about evictions?

Oakland has a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. However, eviction matters are not subject to Petition under the Rent Adjustment Program and must be filed in State Court. Learn more about RAP laws

24. Can a tenant waive in advance his or her rights under the Ordinance?

Advance waivers of the Rent Adjustment Ordinance are a violation of public policy and are prohibited.

25. Who oversees and administers the program?

The program is administered by the City of Oakland Residential Rent Relocation and Adjustment Board. The Board is composed of two owners, two tenants, and three neutrals. The Board advises the City Council on changes to the Regulations.

26. Where is the program located?

City of Oakland
Rent Adjustment Program
250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 5313
Oakland, CA 94612