Oakland Rental Ordinance, Tough On Landlords, Is Upheld By Federal Court

A difficult balance

Relationships between tenants and landlords are usually complicated. Both parties have vital interests: to maximize their investment via a steady flow of rents for landlords. And for tenants to have the enjoyment of a safe, convenient home at the lowest possible monthly cost and for the longest time possible. 

Government gets into it

Federal, State, and Local governments do their best to balance tenants’ rights with the rights of property owners. However, it is not a simple task, as those interests and objectives are often directly opposed. 

This case started back in 2015, when Lyndsey and Sharon Ballinger, Oakland homeowners, moved to Maryland to pursue higher education. The U.S. Air Force employs both. 

An unwanted surprise

They decided to rent their home monthly, as they always planned to return to Oakland together with their children. However, in 2018, they found out that Oakland’s Uniform Relocation Ordinance forced them to pay nearly $7,000 to reimburse their tenants for relocating costs. Notably, the Ordinance became law after the tenants moved into the Ballinger’s home.

Legal battles

The Ballingers sued the city in 2018, arguing that it was unconstitutional as it goes against their Fifth Amendment right of private property not taken for public use without just compensation. A federal judge dismissed the case in 2019, and the couple immediately appealed. 

The case moved up to a panel of appellate judges. By February 3, 2022, the panel affirmed the trial court’s ruling, throwing out the couple’s case. To date, landlords in Oakland still have to pay up to $11,314 to their tenants when they take a property off the rental market. 


A learning for all

Some Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palo Alto, have similar ordinances in their books. These reinforce what we have always said: renting a property is not a do-it-yourself business. If you plan to rent in these areas, contact experts such as The Cal Agents to guide you through the complexities of California’s rental laws. You might be heading for an unwanted surprise if you fail to do so.  

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