Oakland’s pandemic eviction moratorium has expired. What’s next for renters and landlords

Beginning Saturday, Oakland landlords can move to oust tenants for failing to pay rent as the city’s pandemic eviction moratorium — one of the last remaining anywhere in the state — ends after more than three years.

The expiration comes as a relief to rental owners who say the ban has far outlived its purpose and ravaged the livelihoods of many mom-and-pop rental landlords. Tenant advocates, meanwhile, are warning of an “eviction tsunami” swallowing up vulnerable renters who are struggling with rising living expenses and the city’s high housing costs.

“This moratorium was effective in giving renters the protection they needed during an incredibly challenging time,” Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement. “Now that it’s winding down the City and county have resources in place to protect renters.”

Even though the emergency protections have ended, tenants cannot be evicted for rent that went unpaid during the moratorium, which took effect in March 2020, as long as they suffered financial losses due to COVID. But landlords can still take tenants to court to recoup rent debt from that period.

When the City Council agreed in April to end the moratorium on most evictions under mounting legal and political pressure from landlords, it also passed permanent “just cause” renter protections restricting when and how evictions can move forward. Additionally, the city recently set aside $1 million for local legal aid groups to support tenants facing eviction.

Despite those moves, advocacy groups are raising alarms.

“We saw up close the devastation of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, and are committed to preventing a long-term, structural disaster that disproportionally impacts women of color,” said Meghan Gordon, housing co-director with the East Bay Community Law Center, in a statement. “We need our partners in government to pass comprehensive tenant protection legislation and adequately resource legal aid.”

After Alameda County’s eviction moratorium expired in April, evictions spiked in areas without city bans, according to the news publication Oaklandside. Across much of the rest of the region, a Bay Area News Group analysis found evictions surged to pre-pandemic levels across local counties as state protections rolled back last year.


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