OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Disabled tenants are suing the city of Oakland over rent control laws and the cost of accessible homes for the disabled, claiming they are being priced out of modern homes.

It’s no secret people living In the Bay Area have some of the highest rents nationwide and Oakland is following state law which lays out which properties are controlled by rent control. The problem is that new housing that is accessible for the disabled is not covered by the city’s rent control program.

But Ian Smith and two other renters filed the class action lawsuit on Wednesday, saying they can’t find safe housing and are being priced out.

“This is an issue that impacts a lot of us,” 32-year-old Smith told KPIX 5.

They’re suing Oakland on behalf of up to 16,000 others with disabilities, demanding changes to the system, even if it goes against state law that puts limits on rent control ordinances.

“In my case, my rent has gone up by 70% over the last seven years I’ve lived in the Bay Area, and we are seeing in our community this is pricing people out,” Smith said.

And so people like Ian are forced to live in newer properties where rent keeps going up or live in older properties that have rent control but aren’t accessible or safe to the disabled .

“What that means is they can live in a unit where they fall on their hands and knees to get to the bathroom or they can’t use the kitchen or they can’t reach a light switch,” said Sean Betouliere, a disability rights advocate.

So how has Ian been able to make work?

“I’ve been able to make it work so far, but I have a lot of friends who need to leave the Bay Area because there are no options anymore,” he said.

Juliette Goodrich