As apartment prices continue to skyrocket in Oakland, many longtime residents have been pushed out of their homes. Recent city reports have shown that many low-income residents are now spending more than half of their income on rent. That's why James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union has been working overtime to limit rent increases in a city in which landlord groups have traditionally wielded considerable power. Earlier this year, Vann was instrumental in convincing the city council to adopt new tenant-protection rules. Under the regulations, property owners can pass on to tenants no more than 70 percent of the cost of capital improvements (before, they could legally force tenants to pay all the costs), and can't raise rents more than 10 percent a year, with a cap of 30 percent in five years. Vann is now working to limit the landlords' ability to pass on the costs of seismic upgrades to buildings in the same way.
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