Just Cause Evictions in California and what it means for landlords and tenants
In California, tenants have protections to ensure they are not unfairly evicted by a landlord. State law requires landlords to cite a just cause for eviction when serving a notice to a tenant. This is called Just Cause Eviction and it exists to protect tenants from being wrongfully evicted by their landlord. But what exactly is Just Cause Eviction and how does it work? Keep reading to find out.
What is Just Cause?
The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 champions tenants’ rights by setting clear guidelines for lawful evictions. This legislation shields renters from discrimination and retaliation from property owners. It specifies valid justifications for ending a lease, such as failure to pay rent or violation of the rental agreement. With these protections in place, tenants can feel more secure in their homes, knowing they cannot be arbitrarily kicked out.
Rather than limiting landlords, these laws aim to foster good-faith relationships between tenants and landlords. They encourage open communication to resolve issues before resorting to eviction. Rent control paired with just cause eviction promotes fair rental markets where tenants are valued members of the community.
Overall, these ordinances intend to uphold tenants’ dignity, safety, and housing stability. They ensure people are not denied housing due to prejudice or malice. The Tenant Protection Act secures tenants’ rights to fair treatment and due process.
Protections apply to tenants in single-family homes, condos owned, or rooms rented from a landlord. State law and local laws will vary so it’s important to do your research if you are trying to evict a tenant.
Just Cause Eviction Law
A just cause for eviction is defined as an eviction that can only happen for specific reasons that are outlined in the state law. In California, these reasons are:
● The tenant has not paid rent;
● The tenant has committed a “substantial violation” of their lease agreement;
● The tenant has committed a nuisance or is endangering the health or safety of other tenants;
● The tenant refuses to allow the landlord reasonable access to the rental unit; or
● The property owner wants to move in or have a close family member move in (also known as a “family member” eviction).
These are the only reasons that a landlord can evict a tenant in California if the property is covered under Just Cause Eviction. If the landlord tries to evict for other reasons they could be in trouble.
A just cause ordinance does not apply to all single-family homes. Local laws are in place to provide low-income housing and ensure housing for older citizens is available. Without rent control laws in place, it would be difficult for people to afford housing, and many more would become homeless.
When the property is a duplex or accessory dwelling unit, the eviction laws are different. If a corporation or real estate investment trust owns the property, tenant protections apply. If you are unsure if the just cause ordinance applies to your property or if you are being evicted, c0ntacting an attorney will help
At Fault and No-Fault Just Cause Eviction
There are two types of evictions. An at-fault just-cause eviction means that the tenant has done something wrong, like not paying a month’s rent or signing a new lease extension. This is the more serious eviction that can cause problems for tenants when they search for other housing. On the other hand, a landlord can issue an eviction with just cause and it not be the tenant’s fault, like if they need to really remodel the single-family homes or rental units.
It is important to determine if you are being given an at-fault eviction or not. If the tenant is not responsible for the reasons then the landlord must offer to cover one month’s rent so that the tenant can pay rent for their new home.
NOTE: If A landlord tries to evict A tenant for any other reasons, they may be guilty of “unlawful detainer” which is a serious offense. Punishments for unlawful detainer can include having to pay the tenant’s court costs and damages, as well as up to $1,000 in statutory damages. In some cases, the landlord may also be required to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees.
How Just Cause Eviction Works
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant for one of the above-mentioned reasons, they must first give the tenant a written notice. The amount of time that the tenant has to either cure the issue or move out depends on the reason for eviction. For example, if the tenant has not paid rent, they will typically have 3-5 days to pay what they owe or face eviction.
However, if the reason for eviction is that the tenant has committed a serious violation of their lease agreement, they will usually have 30 days to either fix the problem or move out.
Once the written notice has been given, if the tenant fails to take action within the required timeframe, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court. If successful, this will result in an order from the judge requiring the sheriff to remove the tenant from the rental unit within 5 days. Evicting tenants should not be the first step for a landlord. It is the landlord’s duty to address tenants’ concerns in a timely manner. Tenants can withhold rent if a landlord is not upholding the lease terms.
After being served with this order, if tenants still do not leave voluntarily, they will be physically removed from the property by law enforcement officials.
If the tenant agrees to the terms of the just cause eviction then they can move. Depending on the cause of eviction, a landlord may give higher relocation payments. The landlord must give relocation assistance to tenants and a notice of termination within 15 days of the renter vacating the property based on the just cause. Relocation payments will assist the tenants in securing new housing.
Did you know? A landlord can not evict tenants because they want to sell the home. If your landlord did this, contact an attorney today!
Just cause eviction laws exist to protect tenants from being wrongfully evicted by their landlords. In California, landlords can only evict tenants for specific reasons that are outlined in state law. These reasons include not paying rent, violating their lease agreement, committing a nuisance, or endangering other tenants’ health and safety.
Affordable housing and rent control policies may vary by county. It is important to have a local attorney to help you when you are facing an eviction. In San Francisco, there are additional tenant protections. The local ordinance allows for relocation assistance for tenants when a landlord wishes to evict tenants and make substantial renovations to the landlord’s home. For a full list of just cause ordinances for San Francisco, click here.
Did you get an Eviction Notice?
If you have been served with an eviction notice, it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options under California’s just-cause eviction laws.
A landlord’s ability to evict tenants will depend on if the tenant has broken the rental agreement. A copy of the lease agreement will be given to the courts and the landlord will notate how the tenant is violating the terms in order to get an eviction notice served. The landlord serves the residential tenant with the eviction notice.
The tenant may have options to remedy the problem. They can pay rent, allow landlords access to the property for renovations, or even get an order from a judge to stay based on hardships. An experienced attorney can assist a tenant in getting relocation assistance or prevent the eviction altogether. You can also apply for a rent waiver to help with a month’s rent.
If you believe you have been unjustly evicted, it is important to get representation from an attorney. Fighting a landlord can be difficult, but it is possible to win if you have the right attorney on your side. If you are unsure if your landlord has just cause to evict you, contact an attorney as soon as possible. State law and eviction ordinances can be confusing.
To view the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and for frequently asked questions about AB 1482, visit here.
To avoid getting an eviction notice, a tenant should pay rent on time and ensure they are abiding by the rental agreement. Non-payment of rent will force a landlord to evict a tenant. If the primary residence is being used for an illegal purpose, the landlord has just cause to evict the tenant. A landlord also has just cause if they need to substantially remodel the property.
However, the landlord is not allowed to evict a tenant, do substantial renovations, and then occupy the house themselves. State laws have a waiting period for landlords to move into their property after renovations are completed. If the landlord lives in the property before this waiting period is up they can be sued by their old tenants.
Rent Control Laws were established to protect renters from predatory landlords who would kick them out in order to increase rent and profits for themselves. This is not allowed and with good reason. Families would be evicted because the next family could pay a little more. This would obviously have an adverse effect on society if landlords could issue a no-cause eviction.
If the rental market is full of renters and the inventory of housing is low, the rental market becomes competitive and landlords can increase the amount of rent they charge. In order to prevent evictions during this time, just-cause eviction rules were put into place.
Rental Market Dynamics Lead to Rent Control
The rental housing market, like any market, is shaped by supply and demand. When the demand for rental housing is high, such as in densely populated urban areas, and the supply is limited, this gives landlords increased pricing power. They can raise rents higher than the rate of inflation, making rental housing less affordable.
In some cities, rents are going up very fast because many people want to live there but there aren’t enough homes. Landlords might try to force out renters who pay low rents so they can bring in new renters who will pay more. This isn’t fair to the current renters.
To protect renters, some cities have passed rent control laws. These laws stop landlords from raising rents too much each year. There are also “just cause eviction” rules that say landlords can only evict renters for good reasons, like not paying rent. They can’t evict someone just because they want to charge more rent.
These laws try to make things more fair for renters. They prevent landlords from arbitrarily evicting people or jacking up rents too high. Renters get more security in their homes, even when rents in the city are rising fast. The laws aim to balance power between landlords and renters.
Paying Rent is Key to Avoiding Eviction
Although landlords cannot evict without just cause, tenants still must uphold their end of the rental agreement. Paying rent in full and on time is the most basic obligation. Consistently paying rent late or not at all will lead to eviction even with rent control laws in place.
Landlords have monthly costs and depend on rental income, so not receiving payments is considered just cause to remove tenants. Other lease violations like excessive noise, unauthorized occupants, and property damage can also qualify as just cause. Responsible tenants who pay on time and follow all lease terms need not fear eviction.
Rent Control Law Limits Arbitrary Rent Hikes
The main purpose of rent control is to protect tenants from sudden large rent increases that could force them to move. By law, landlords can only raise rents by a defined percentage each year, often linked to inflation. This prevents landlords from doubling or tripling rents from one year to the next.
Rent control also makes the rental market more predictable. Tenants know their housing costs will only go up modestly on an annual basis. This stability and affordability enable more low and middle-income families to remain in their neighborhoods rather than being pushed out by rapid rent hikes.
In addition to limiting rent increase(s), rent control laws regulate the allowed reasons for eviction. Landlords cannot evict tenants without one of the approved just causes even if they are not subject to rent caps.
Just cause eviction laws require landlords to have valid reasons, outlined in the law, before evicting tenants. This prevents landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants just to raise rents. Tenants must pay rent on time and follow lease terms to avoid eviction. Rent control provides protections for tenants in competitive rental markets.
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