Press Release: Oakland Condo Conversion Ordinance

black square with red, yellow, and white text reads: Homes for people first Tuesday's update to Oakland's Condo Conversion Ordinance

Media Contact

Grover Wehman-Brown

Communications and Membership Associate

510-663-3830 x 314 

For Immediate Release

Anti-displacement updates to Oakland’s Condo Conversion Ordinance extend tenant protections to 20,000 new homes and close loopholes that drive up the cost of rental housing.

January 24th, 2020

East Bay Housing Organizations celebrates that thousands more Oakland residents will be able to stay in their homes after City Council approved updates to the Condo Conversion Ordinance on Tuesday, January 21st.

“We’re extremely excited that after 13 years of work we have finally closed the loopholes in the condo ordinance to add real protections for 20,000 additional units and prevent the displacement of vulnerable, low income renters,” says Jeff Levin, Policy Director at East Bay Housing Organizations.

Updates to the ordinance extend tenant protections to over 20,000 homes that are rented in 2-4 unit buildings, enacts a lifetime lease option for tenants with disabilities, ensures better notification for existing and prospective tenants, and is designed to preserve the existing number of rental units available in Oakland. 

Jackie Zaneri, Tenant Rights Attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza said, “The ordinance will help preserve rent-controlled housing for thousands of Oakland tenants because it removes the incentive to convert their homes into condos in order to circumvent rent control.”

We have been working closely with Councilmember Dan Kalb for many years to pass these important anti-displacement measures along with Oakland tenant advocate groups including Oakland Tenants Union, Centro Legal de la Raza, Causa Justa / Just Cause, and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). 

Reducing evictions and the overall cost of rental housing is key to the wellbeing of Oakland’s residents at a time when more than 25,000 Oakland households are being charged more than they can sustainably pay for housing. The city found that 978 households have been evicted over the last 15 years when rental housing was converted to condos; most of those units would have been rent controlled prior to condo conversion.

About the Updates to the Condo Conversion Ordinance

The addition of the 2-4 building coverage in the ordinance extends protection to over 20k units in Oakland. 

The ordinance provides better protection and notification provisions for existing tenants by: 

• Extending the lifetime lease provision from only seniors to seniors & ppl with disabilities

• Requiring landlords to provide earlier notification to existing and prospective tenants. Iif someone moves into a unit being converted to a condo and are not given notice about the conversion before they move in, they are eligible for relocation funds that existing tenants get. 

The new ordinance tightens requirements for which rental replacement units can enable “conversion rights”- the 1-1 replacement of units converted to condominiums with new rental housing. 

• Previously it was possible to buy conversion rights from a new building that was mapped for condos as long as that building operated as rental housing for 7 years. At the end of the 7 years, the new building could sell those units as condos, so Oakland residents ultimately lost the overall number of rental units available. 

• Now, the replacement housing must permanently be designated as rental housing & it has to be newly constructed. The replacement units have to be comparable in size to the units converted to a condominium. 

The ordinance provides incentives for existing tenants to purchase their units, which creates homeownership opportunities without displacement. 

• Existing tenants are granted a 10% discount to purchase the unit if the building converts to a condo. 

• Units sold to existing tenants or buildings made permanently affordable (for example, land trusts) do not have to get conversion rights from a new rental project. 

About East Bay Housing Organizations

East Bay Housing Organizations is a member-driven coalition organization working to preserve, protect, and create affordable housing opportunities for low-income communities in the East Bay by educating, advocating, organizing, and building coalitions. 

EBHO brings together community members, public officials, nonprofit housing developers, residents, service providers, planners, professionals, and advocates working together to ensure everyone in the East Bay has a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home.

Read the full press release here.