Oakland Passing Rent-Increase Moratorium

The City of Oakland has passed an emergency interim ordinance to curtail the effects of rent increases. While Oakland’s rent ordinance already prohibited rent increases exceeding the allowable annual rate (keyed to CPI adjustments), landlords could impose rent increases exceeding this rate (up to ten percent) for things like capital improvement passthroughs. (After all, everybody likes living in apartments that have roofs.) Also, two and three-unit, owner-occupied buildings had been exempt. Under Ordinance 13360, the owner-occupied exemption and CPI-exceeding increases are eliminated during the 90-day moratorium period. The moratorium also prevents unauthorized increases for substantially rehabilitated buildings.

There is, perhaps, a difference of opinion about whether constraining housing supply (by creating price ceilings and disincentives for tenants to move) actually puts upward pressure on housing prices overall. And, for now, this moratorium prevents covered rent increases for only 90 days. Maybe the moratorium will meet falling prices in a cooling market and have the desired effect of preventing displacement. Or, if the prohibitions become permanent, maybe we can track their effects in the next housing crisis.