OAKLAND – Four rent control tenants in Oakland who say constant construction forced them to move out have been awarded a $575,000 settlement after suing their landlord for wrongful eviction.

KPIX 5 first reported on this case back in 2016. Peter Howe and the other three tenants were living in single-room occupancys (SROs) in Hotel Travelers building on 11th Street in Oakland. Developer Danny Haber bought the building that year and immediately began renovating. Howe says the construction made the place unliveable.

“It was a hardball game they were playing they were trying to get me to go,” Howe said.

At one point Howe was without heat, running water and a bathroom on his floor. Haber offered to buy out the rent control tenants if they agreed they would not try to move back in.

Twenty-five tenants were living in rent controlled apartments; the majority took the buyouts. Now, the units Haber renovated are on the market for $1,500/month.

“When we offered tenants either a new home down the block at same price … or to put them up in temporary housing,” Haber said. “21 out of 25 tenants decided to work with us on common solutions and are happier to this day for it.”

“Each time they offered me a buyout it just wasn’t enough,” Howe said.

“I’m a happy camper,” Dana Wallace said. Wallace is one of a just a handful of tenants who was able to keep his rent-controlled apartment. He still pays $685 a month and loves the renovations Haber’s company made.

Wallace was displaced for an entire year during the renovations but says Haber made sure he was able to get back in.

“I moved out for a year and Danny Haber paid for it, he paid for the whole thing,” Wallace said.

The city of Oakland is slowly losing its SROs, going from 2,003 back in 1985 to 1,403 today.

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