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Oakland renter eviction cases soar after years-long moratorium sunsets

Landlords, tenants clash after yearslong eviction moratorium sunsets
Landlords, tenants clash after yearslong eviction moratorium sunsets 03:43

OAKLAND -- The Alameda County Court is overwhelmed with eviction cases months after a COVID-era moratorium on evictions was lifted.

"This exhausting you know, running back and forth to do everything but if I don't and not advocate for myself, find out what my rights are, then, literally, they will be able to just come do whatever," Oakland resident Deidra Ross said.

She has lived in her Oakland apartment since 2020 and says she's consistently paid her rent on time despite being out of work for health complications from a heart attack last year. She says she was only able to make a partial payment one month during her recovery.

"It's very disturbing, again, because, you know, everyone has a situation at some point," Ross said.

When the evictions moratorium ended in Oakland mid-July, Ross received an e-mail advising her to work with her landlord to come up with a payment plan. She says she never heard back and instead received an eviction notice despite attempting to resolve the issue privately.

"Ridiculous, honestly, for property owners and landlords to take this positive action when they can literally just sit down and have a conversation with their tenants," she said.

Ross isn't alone. The Alameda County court has seen triple their average eviction cases on any given day.

Berkeley city councilmember Kate Harrison says landlords have every right to pursue payments but both parties deserve a fair day in court.

"It was time to allow landlords to begin collecting rent," she said. "What's happened with the courts is that they have a backlog of cases. So, for example, last Wednesday, they had 170 unlawful detainer cases on their docket and normally the average was about 50 ... all the way through COVID."

Harrison says limiting the number of cases heard each day could help struggling tenants, giving them more time to make their case in court.

"So we really need to slow this down if it takes an extra month to hear one of these cases but you get a fair. just result I think it's OK," Harrison explained.

For Ross, she's fighting her case and expects to see her day in court in the next several months.

"It's uncomfortable. It's an embarrassing situation because a lot of times it's not that we're not, you know, in my case, we're paying the majority," Ross said. "There was a portion short but you gotta do what you have to do."

More information on tenants rights and evictions is available on the Alameda County government website.

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