On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Oakland became the first city in California to ban criminal background checks in nearly all rental housing units. The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, effective immediately, prohibits landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants.

Covered units include subsidized affordable and nonprofit housing units. Accessory dwelling units or secondary backyard units on owner-occupied properties, single-family homes, duplexes, and triplexes are exempt from the ordinance.

The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance does not prohibit landlords from reviewing the California sex offender list when screening prospective tenants.

“This ordinance is about making sure returning community members have equal opportunities they deserve to successfully reintegrate into our community, and this begins with a roof over your head,” said Councilwoman Nikki Fortunato Bas, a co-sponsor of the measure.

Landlords who violate the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance are subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

Notably, the Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on a similar measure in February.

The Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance expands the repertoire of existing protections the Oakland Rent Ordinance, and numerous other local laws, provide Oakland tenants.  For more information about the Oakland Rent Ordinance, click here.