Alameda County renter advocates warn of landlord lobby’s “fake tenant’s rights website” 

When the website launched recently, it seemed innocuous enough. It claimed to be aimed at informing renters in Alameda County about tenant protections–an issue of increased interest since the county’s eviction moratorium expired last week.

It even features a video on its homepage featuring two Alameda County supervisors, David Haubert and Lena Tam, encouraging renters to know their rights.

“California has some of the strongest renter protection laws in the country,” the website declares. “Here’s what you need to know about laws that protect renters.”

The problem, say local tenant advocates, is that the website is run by the California Apartment Association, a landlord lobby group, and is spreading misinformation, as well as diverting renters searching for help online away from valuable resources. In a statement, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a local grassroots organization working on racial and economic justice issues, likened the website to fake abortion clinics set up by anti-choice groups.

The California Apartment Association says the website has already reached over a million views.

“We’re worried that people will see this website and think they have rights that they don’t, they’ll misunderstand the court processes,” said Jackie Zaneri, a senior attorney for ACCE. “There’s really nothing on this website that I would tell a tenant to rely on.”

The website has launched a fresh war of words between tenants rights advocates and the landlord lobby, and laid bare the still-simmering tension surrounding the eviction moratorium.

According to Zaneri, the website contains a number of factual inaccuracies. For example, it states that renters of a single family home owned by an LLC are entitled to a series of protections under state law. Zaneri said that’s false–many homes owned by LLCs are not governed by state eviction protections.

The website also states that a renter “cannot be evicted for not paying the back rent that came due during the Alameda County eviction moratorium.” Zaneri said that was also false–renters are only protected if they can prove non-payment was Covid-related. They’re also still required to respond to any case filed by a landlord, and could be evicted if they fail to do so.

Beyond factual inaccuracies, Zaneri said the website could drive people away from a site already set up by Alameda County to provide resources to renters in the lead up to the eviction moratorium ending. That site provides a list of legal assistance groups, which advocates say would be better suited to inform people about their rights.

The lobby’s website does not list any legal aid organizations.

According to the California Apartment Association, the website is simply providing publicly available information about state renter protections. The group accuses tenants rights groups in Alameda County of “fear-mongering” and spreading “fake news.”

“There’s nothing sneaky about telling people what laws are on the books,” said Joshua Howard, CAA’s executive vice president of local government affairs.

According to Howard, the website was built in response to rhetoric from groups who opposed letting the eviction moratorium expire. He said renters were being told they would have no protections after the moratorium lapsed, and that the organization wanted to inform people that powerful state renter’s rights laws would still remain on the books.

Howard said all information on the website has been legally vetted.

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But ACCE believes the website is a clear attempt to mislead renters, calling it a “fake tenant’s rights website.” They say the video featuring two county supervisors, sitting in what appears to be a county office in front of an American flag, implies that this website was created or endorsed by Alameda County.

“They’re promoting the landlord lobby’s fake and misleading content,” said Anya Svanoe, ACCE’S communications director.

District 1 supervisor David Haubert, who appears in the video said he believes the site is fair and balanced. He said was approached by the California Apartment Association to create the video.

“They said we have rights on the books, we should let people know about it,” Haubert said. “I’m pretty confident that we didn’t cross any line to make it appear as if it were county-created.”

Haubert called it “disingenuous” for “activist groups” to complain about his participation in a project that is meant to clear the air.

What’s not up for debate is that, as of April 30, Alameda County’s eviction moratorium is no longer in place. Many renters will be looking for information on how to navigate the situation online. When they do, at least some of them will stumble across a renter’s rights website created by a landlord lobby group.


“This is extremely unusual,” Zaneri said. “It’s not normal.”

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