I am writing this as a reminder to all, and especially Oakland Landlords, that the City of Oakland has the powerful Oakland Tenant Protections Law – and needs a provision for caregivers, like myself. I should not have to write something like this, given that my rent for my Oakland Adams Point apartment is up to date, and I have not missed a month during The Pandemic. And that is not to insult anyone who has.
As regular readers know, I am in Georgia to help my Mom, while maintaining my Oakland apartment. The circumstances were such that the last time I went back home to Oakland was November 19th, 2019. The purpose, as many know, was to check my mail, go to the Cincinnati Bengals vs Oakland Raiders game, and attend the Cal vs Stanford Big Game down on The Farm (WE GOT THE AXE), then go back home and keep my 86-year-old Mom company, and give her help in any way.
The Pandemic caused me to change my plans. For a host of reasons, foremost among them the fact that my Mom and I share the same blood type “O” (the one found to be most resistant to the SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 virus), I elected to remain in Georgia with Mom.
During that time, and about five months ago, I received a text from one of the maintenance workers that several items of mail was left in front of my door. The maintenance worker was really kind enough to send a photo – the one here is part of the full picture he sent. He also was kind enough to send the mail that apparently was overflowing (I have since had my mail forwarded because I was admittedly too bone-headed to remember to do so). The maintenance worker, and the local apartment manager, are representative of the kind of help that Oakland landlords should provide tenants – especially those 3,000 miles away helping their parents.
Also, the maintenance worker, who I will not name, as it turns out, is a Zennie62 YouTube Fan. He volunteered that he “watches your videos”, as he said. Thank God for the Zensters, like this Raiders Fan and his son:
But, I digress.
I also expressed concern that, given the spate of weird criminal activity, someone with the organization that owns my unit just go and do a check to make sure it was OK, inside. The leasing agent said she would send someone back there. Great. So, they did, and she said that the person who went in said that it “looked fine, but it was kind of messy.” Now, that was alarming to me, because my place has a ton of books, and movies from the VCR-era, and giant foam-boards of the Coliseum plans to host the 2005 Super Bowl and that I hired Anderson Consulting Team to produce as part of our bid to host the Super Bowl. The plans that are normally seen in my videos done from home in Oakland.
So, my place is basically a shrine to the various aspect of my life, mostly my Super Bowl Oakland work, and my long time relationship with the NFL. I also have not spent much time in it because I’ve either traveled to be with my Mom, or went to cover events from Oscars Parties to the NFL Draft, etc. Ok. But messy is something I don’t want my Mom to see if I’m able to bring her back if she feels up to it. So, I talked to the leasing agent , who said that she knew of someone. Also, the maintenance worker said his Mom could do it and I was happy to negotiate a price and work out all of the details so this. And the leasing agent, as it happened, had that person in mind, too. Cool.
So, a couple of months went by, and I was focusing on my company and the vlogger contractors who have done made so much great vlog content for Zennie62Media. I then turned to the personal matter of getting my place cleaned (which means, you know, dusting and perhaps putting the documents I have saved in another place more out of the way. And I’m pretty sure I washed dishes before I left, but I have a small kitchen, so it needs a trained eye).
So, I tried to restart the matter of getting a cleaning person in, and all of a sudden, the landlord can’t help me. I then called the local manager, but for health reasons, she is on leave. The apartment leasing agent suddenly did not know what I was talking about, and her manager (who I called many times and left messages) said “We don’t do that”, to which I explained that I was not asking them to do it – just point me in the direction of a cleaning person or firm they did business with.
I also asked if they had a list of vendors I could contact – people they were familiar with. She said no. Plus, she was nasty: she did not ask how my Mom was doing, let alone me. Moreover, I had called her three days in a row and three times on Thursday of this week. So, my red flags were up.
She said “Well, I have no problem getting a cleaning person on my own”, to which I remarked “Were you 3,000 miles away from your place? How did you arrange to meet them?” No answer, and because she knew she was wrong. She said “Well, our cleaning person is booked. Then, she said, “she’s booked for the next year.” I said “I don’t believe that.” The conversation ended with me saying to her that she should, and people should, act with some level of compassion toward one who’s a caregiver to his parents. All I was asking for was help.
Fortunately, I told my story to my long-time friend who’s also an Oakland landlord and business owner, and that person offered to go and clean my place! Given the economic pain she’s going through, this is perfect. So, we negotiated a price and are working out the details. I also called the building manager to inform her via phone message. She did not call back. So wild. So wild.
But now, I am wondering what Oaklanders who do not have my resources are dealing with? I shared my story with Oakland District 6 Councilmember Loren Taylor, who was kind enough to send over via text a reminder that “The Oakland Tenant Protections Law covers what you’re dealing with.” So, here’s what the City of Oakland posted about the TPO (Tenant Protections Ordinance) law:
The TPO defines harassment as the owner doing one of the following in bad faith:
Threaten to or interrupt, terminate, or fail to provide housing services .
Fail to perform repairs and maintenance.
Failing to perform due diligence when completing repairs. For example, not minimizing exposure to noise, dust, lead paint, mold, asbestos, or other building materials with potentially harmful health impacts.
Abuse the Owner’s right of access to the rental unit.
Remove personal property, furnishings, or any other items without the prior written consent of the tenant.
Intimidate or threaten to report the tenant to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Offer payments to a Tenant to vacate more than once in six (6) months.
Attempt to coerce a Tenant to vacate with offer(s) of payments to vacate in addition to threats or intimidation.
Threaten the tenant, by word or gesture, with physical harm.
Substantially and directly interfere with a Tenant’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of the rental unit.
Refuse to accept or acknowledge receipt of a Tenant’s lawful rent payment.
Refuse to cash a rent check for over thirty (30) days unless a written receipt for payment has been provided to the Tenant.
Interfere with a Tenant’s right to privacy.
Request information that violates a Tenant’s right to privacy.
Commit repeated acts to substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of any tenant.
Remove a housing service for the purpose of causing the Tenant to vacate the rental unit.
The TPO requires owners to post a notice of the TPO in rental units located in a building with an interior common area. The notice must be placed in at least one such common area in the building using the form prescribed by the City Staff. Notices can be found in the Additional Documents pages
Before a Tenant may file a violation of the TPO, the Tenant must first notify the Owner of the problem. The tenant must allow fifteen (15) days for the owner to correct the problem. The owner can notify the tenant that the repairs will take more than fifteen (15) days. In this case, the owner must provide a reasonable time period for completion. If the repair takes more than fifteen (15) days, the tenant may file if the owner does not take steps to start addressing the problem. The tenant may also file if the owner does not follow through to complete the repairs with reasonable diligence.
I am not filing a complaint at this point, but if I did, it would be violation of “Remove a housing service for the purpose of causing the Tenant to vacate the rental unit”, but I am saying that Oakland Landlords must work to take care of their tenants as if they were members of their own family. If I wanted to get my landlord in trouble I could have used names and dates and texts – I am not doing that. I would prefer to have a great relationship, and I am completely irked I have to go to this length to ask for one that I was under the impression I had.
I think the TPO should be adjusted to in some way call for landlords to have special care for tenants who are caregivers to their parents. The law should say this:
“Oakland Landlord are prohibited from actions that would harm a tenant they know to be a caregiver to their parents, and who has requested non-monetary assistance from the Landlord. The landlord must make best efforts to help the caregiver.”
At this point in my life, my Mom’s my main focus. While I had it in mind to get married and start a family, you gotta meet the right woman (in my case) to have that happened. So, I wasn’t able to bless Mom with grand kids, but there’s always hope. Mom raised me as a single parent from six years old, and thanks to her job as sales agent at United Airlines for 30 years, she was able to show me the World in a way that’s rare for anyone, but especially a middle-class African-American boy growing up in Chicago and Oakland. I owe my Mom my life many times over.
I started Zennie62Media to concentrate my creations and relationships into one corporate investment structure. I also did so at the time because I did not want to take a position in Atlanta that called for me to be away from Mom. The solution was this Delaware C-Corp that allows me to be here in Georgia and help my Mom and yet run the media effort in Oakland, and service our clients nationwide.
I did it to help my Mom and it has worked in many ways that I did not anticipate. That’s all I see right now – helping my Mom. My landlord should understand that, too. Oakland landlords should be made to understand that by law. Help caregivers be caregivers.
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