City Council-Don't Displace Another Oakland Tenant! Repeal the Substantial Rehab Exemption

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Oakland is facing an escalating housing affordability crisis.

We are more than 65+ tenants living in units owned by Justin Wallway (also known by his corporate entities: JDW Enterprises, LLC and Rising Tides Properties, LLC). Our landlord does not live in Oakland and purchased his properties for pennies during the foreclosure crisis. He is attempting to use a legal loophole to exempt 14 of his properties–upwards of 35 units–from rent control. 

Rent control prevents displacement. Loss of rent control protections is tantamount to an eviction, as landlords can serve massive rent increases and force tenants out.

Our landlord is trying to use the Substantial Rehabilitation exemption, a short, ill-defined paragraph in the City’s rent code. Other Californian cities with Rent Control have gotten rid of this exception or made the requirements much stricter. There is already a process by which landlords may request rent increases when they perform improvements to the property, known as a Capital Improvement passthrough. The City Council took great pains last year to overhaul this process so that tenants were not pushed out by unnecessary upgrades that would lead to displacement.  But this loophole remains.

Our landlord stands to gain an enormous amount. He will likely use a victory to displace tenants like Marlon, who has lived in her West Oakland unit for 42 years, since far before he owned her property. Or tenants like Chelsea, who works with low-income youth in Oakland and San Francisco. We, his tenants, are teachers, healers, artists, designers, parents and non-profit service providers. We are disabled and retired people. We are community members working to protect the environment and improve public health. We live in and love Oakland, and are engaged in creating community here.

We need immediate action from our City Council.  The exemption needs to be
eliminated before another Oakland resident is displaced. The majority of Oakland City Council and Oakland Rent Board members agreed that this law is flawed and must be changed. Yet since passing a moratorium on future cases in December 2017, City Council has been silent on the issue. Now is the time for City Council to put Substantial Rehabilitation Loophole on the agenda and get rid of this dangerous loophole once and for all!

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