The city of Oakland offers online workshops for all renters and property owners. Credit: Pete Rosos

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In pre-pandemic times, Oakland’s various ordinances controlling rent increases, evictions, and apartment repairs were already challenging to understand and stay on top of for tenants and landlords alike. Enter new local laws completely overhauling what’s allowed during the COVID-19 crisis, and that task became even more head-spinning.

upcoming workshops

Tenant rights workshop: March 3, 5:30-7 p.m. 
Small property owner workshop: March 10, 5:30-7 p.m.

Find all Zoom links here.

The city’s Rent Adjustment Program, or RAP, also offers free workshops on tenant and property owner rights and requirements. 

The workshops are currently held over Zoom roughly once a month. Some are geared toward renters, covering topics like landlord harassment, rent control, and security deposits, and some workshops are meant for property owners, touching on similar topics from a landlord’s perspective. Some of the sessions focus on specific, new laws, like the Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance prohibiting criminal background checks of prospective tenants, or the COVID-19 eviction moratorium (The Oaklandside also has a detailed guide to Oakland and Alameda County’s eviction moratoriums).

In June, RAP will hold a workshop in Spanish, and in August, the program will offer its first workshop in Chinese.

Cometria Cooper, a RAP supervisor, said the workshops have been much better-attended since they went online, but staff hope even more people show up. “Any owner or tenant in Oakland” could benefit, Cooper said, “just to find out what their rights and responsibilities are.”

Individuals can also contact RAP housing counselors Monday through Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with questions or concerns. Counselors are available over email at rap@oaklandca.gov, too. Prior to the pandemic, RAP offered drop-in counseling weekly at the Oakland Public Library, but the program was paused in response to shelter-in-place orders. While RAP’s annual report says the drop-in program will start up again this month, Cooper said the plans are still being worked out.

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie grew up in Berkeley and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.