California Tenants: Click for our Complete Guide to COVID-19 California Tenant Protections || (415) 226-7170

Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, Oakland became the first California city to prohibit landlords from asking prospective Oakland tenants about their conviction history by banning the box requesting an applicant’s criminal history on initial rental applications or during the applicant process. Codified at Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 8.25, Article I, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, which is already in effect, also prohibits landlords from conducting criminal background checks on applicants. Unscrupulous landlords who ignore the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance face lawsuits carrying severe penalties.

Oakland Units Covered by the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

The Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance covers all residential housing, including illegal units, in Oakland. However, certain units are not covered. Exempted units include:


 

Fill out an Oakland rental application that asked about your criminal record?
Sue the landlord!
We can help.

Email Us Call Us

Does the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Ban the Box on Rental Applications?

Yes, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance bans the box by prohibiting landlords from asking applicants about their criminal history on initial rental applications or during the application process. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.030. Additionally, landlords may not verbally ask about an applicant’s criminal history. This prohibition exists throughout the entire screening process. Oakland landlords are prohibited from discovering an applicant’s conviction history.

Does the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Ban Background Checks During the Rental Application Process?

Yes, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance bans background checks during the rental application process. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.030. Landlords may not conduct a background check on prospective Oakland tenants. This prohibition exists throughout the entire screening process. Oakland landlords are prohibited from discovering an applicant’s conviction history.

Does the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Prohibit Landlords from Discovering All Conviction History?

No, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance does not cover lifetime sex offenders. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.030. Oakland landlords may review the California sex offender registry when screening applicants. However, before being able to check the registry lawfully, Oakland landlords must:

Additionally, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance permits certain landlords to conduct criminal background checks to comply with federal or state laws. For example, public housing landlords may inquire into an Applicant’s conviction history as required by the Ineligibility of Dangerous Sex Offenders for Admission to Public Housing law (42 U.S.C. § 13663(a)) and the Ineligibility of Individuals Convicted for Manufacturing Methamphetamine on Premises of Federally Assisted Housing for Admission to Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs law (24 C.F.R. § 982.553). Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.030. However, the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance requires the landlord to first comply with the following:

Any denial of housing may only be based on state and federal requirements.

After Lawfully Reviewing Conviction History, What Must Landlords Provide an Applicant When Denying Housing?

As stated above, some Oakland landlords are exempt from the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance. Where a landlord is permitted to inquire into an applicant’s conviction history, and denies housing, the landlord must provide the applicant the following written information:

Can Landlords Charge Applicants for Criminal Background Checks?

No. The Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance explicitly prohibits landlords from passing the cost of procuring a criminal background check or report onto applicants. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.030.

Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance’s Other Important Prohibitions

The Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance also mandates that covered landlords comply with the following requirements:

Can Landlords Retaliate Against Oakland Tenants & Applicants for Exercising their Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Rights?

No, any landlord retaliation following a tenant exercising their Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance rights is prohibited. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.050. Examples of retaliation include, but are not limited to:

Can I Sue My Landlord for Violating the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance?

Yes, tenants and applicants can sue landlords in court. The Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance contains a private right of action.

Money Damages Available to Tenants & Applicants Under the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance

Any person who suffers a rights violation or retaliation under the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance may submit a complaint to the City of Oakland or file a lawsuit in court. Oakland Municipal Code § 8.25.060.

Upon filing a civil lawsuit, an aggrieved person is entitled to recover the greater of three times their actual damages, including emotional distress damages or one months’ rent for the unit in question, or the HUD Small Area Fair Market Rent amount. Id. California courts are empowered to award punitive damages. Id. Additionally, attorney fees and court costs are recoverable to the prevailing party. Id.

Where the City Attorney files an action, civil penalties may be assessed against the landlord. Id.

No Upfront Cost for Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Lawsuit

You will not owe Astanehe Law a penny until after you obtain a successful settlement or judgment. Astanehe Law offers contingency representation, which means there is no upfront cost in securing legal representation.

Astanehe Law Knows Tenants Rights

Michael M. Astanehe possesses a zeal for helping tenants bring claims against their landlord. Mr. Astanehe is an aggressive litigator with several years of civil litigation experience. He is willing to take your case to trial if necessary. This ferocity ensures that Astanehe Law will obtain the highest recovery possible for each client.

Litigation is stressful. To that end, Mr. Astanehe provides each client with comprehensive legal service so that they remain fully informed and comfortable throughout the process. Astanehe Law strives to make litigation as stress-free as possible.

To discuss the Oakland Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, Oakland Rent Control, or California Rent Control, contact Astanehe Law to speak with an attorney today.

Visit BantheBox.net for more information

Astanehe Law Knows Your Rights

Contact Us Now

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!