Homeowner balks at new Oakland renter protections

By Gabriel Neves | Dec 10, 2018

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OAKLAND — A recent Oakland law is making it difficult for homeowners to move back to their properties without reimbursing their tenants for no-fault eviction.

The Uniform Relocation Ordinance, passed in January, "requires property owners to pay their tenants as much as $13,000 for relocation expenses if the owner decides to move themselves or a family member into the building, pushing the tenant out," according to the Mercury News.

Several cities in the Bay Area, such as Palo Alto and San Francisco, have similar laws, which are designed to be "a cushion for renters who find themselves thrust back into the unmerciful Bay Area housing market through no fault of their own," the report said.

One lawsuit, however, is claiming that the ordinance violates property rights.

Lyndsey Ballinger and her wife, Sharon, were both "on active duty in the Air Force, lived in a three-bedroom home they owned in Oakland until 2015, when they were transferred to the Washington, D.C. area," and rented the property while on duty in the nation's capital, the report said.

When they moved back to Oakland in March, "the Ballingers had to pay their tenants $6,582.40 before they could move back into their home—a condition that didn’t exist when they initially signed the lease," the report said.

A partner at the law firm that represents the Ballingers, Meriem Hubbard of the Pacific Legal Foundation, told the Northern California Record that "the ordinance requires that property owners comply with the ordinance," with the city even offering "zero-interest loans to property owners who do not have sufficient cash for the relocation payments."

Hubbard also said "the City claims that a person can request a hardship exemption, although according to the City very few people qualify for the exemption.  But importantly, the ordinance does not provide for any exemption."

"The best outcome would be for a court to declare the relocation fee unconstitutional as a taking of private property under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Hubbard said.

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