The City of San Diego recently finalized a new just cause ordinance, which provides stronger residential tenant protections than the previous ordinance enacted in 2004. The Just Cause Ordinance significantly limits the grounds for termination of a residential tenancy, requires higher relocation assistance be paid to tenants for no fault evictions, and provides several additional protections for San Diego tenants. Here is a summary of its salient provisions.
Which Properties Are Exempt from The Ordinance?
The following properties are exempt from the Just Cause Ordinance:
a) Transient and tourist hotel occupancy.
b) Short-term residential occupancy as defined by San Diego Municipal Code.
c) Housing for very low to moderate income persons restricted by deed, regulatory restriction contained in an agreement by a government agency or other document.
d) Certain housing projects with subsidies for low to moderate income renters, not including Section 8 properties.
e) Mobilehomes subject to statewide mobilehome residency laws.
f) Accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, extended care facility, or licensed residential care facility for the elderly.
g) College/university dormitories
h) Properties in which the tenant shares a bathroom or kitchen facilities with landlord, who uses the property as their principal residence.
i) Single-family residences and mobile homes occupied by landlord as the landlord’s primary place of residence, where the landlord rents no more than two units;
j) A property with two dwelling units under a single structure where the landlord occupies one unit and the tenant occupies the other. The landlord must have occupied the other unit at the inception of the tenancy and continue to occupy the other unit throughout the tenancy.
k) A property that was issued a certificate of occupancy within the last 15 years, unless it is a mobilehome.
l) A separately alienable property provided that: 1) the landlord is not a real estate investment trust, a corporation, a limited liability company with a corporate member, or management of a mobilehome park, and (2) the tenants have been provided with written notice of the exemption
Just Cause Requirements
Properties covered by the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance must have just cause before terminating any tenancy (“tenancy” is defined as “a lawful right of a tenant to use or occupy a residential property for more than thirty days.“)
At Fault Just Cause includes:
• Nonpayment of rent,
• Breach of a material term of the lease,
• Failure to renew a lease that terminated after June 24, 2023, after being provided with a written demand to sign a new lease of similar term and duration,
• Criminal activity by the tenant on the property,
• Criminal threat by the tenant directed at the landlord or any other tenant as defined under PC §422 on or off the property,
• Unpermitted subleasing or assignment in violation of the lease,
• Failure to provide reasonable access as permitted under the Civil Code and Health and Safety Code,
• Using the property for illegal purpose,
• An employee failure to vacate after termination of employment, and
• A tenant’s failure to deliver possession of the property after providing written notice of tenant’s intent to terminate.
No Fault Just Cause includes:
• Owner occupancy for the owner, spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent or grandparent. The right must be reserved in the lease, or the tenants must agree in writing to the termination for tenancies created after June 24, 2023.
• Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market,
• Recovering possession to comply with government order:
o A circumstance related to habitability of the unit that will require the tenant to be out for at least 30 days.
o An order issued by a government agency to vacate.
o A local ordinance that requires that the tenant vacate the unit.
• A landlord’s intent to demolish or substantially renovate the unit. To enforce an eviction based upon a substantial remodel, landlords must be able to prove they have: (1) posted the application for permits on the property within 3 days of the submission of the application, (2) secured the necessary permits, and (3) served copies of the necessary permits with the terminating notice. The notice must describe the type and scope of work to be performed, why it cannot be performed safely with the tenant in place, and why the work will require the tenant to vacate for more than 30 days.
Relocation assistance will be required for any no fault termination of a tenancy regardless of income or length of tenancy, unless the tenant has been determined to be at fault for uninhabitable conditions of the property.
The Just Cause Ordinance requires relocation payment of two months of actual rent under the lease on the date of the notice. If a person is over 62 or disabled that amount is increased by one month for a total of three months of actual rent. The landlord can also agree to waive rent to satisfy the relocation expense amount.
Remedies for a Landlord’s Violation of the Just Cause Ordinance
Remedies are the following: a tenant may file a suit against the landlord for violations, tenants may seek injunctive relief, equitable relief, and money damages, including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Violations may be raised as an affirmative defense in an unlawful detainer action. Attempts to recover or actual recovery of possession of the property in violation of the Just Cause Ordinance will subject a landlord to liability for wrongful eviction with damages not less than three times actual economic damages. Further, landlord who fail to provide the appropriate relocation expense will be liable to the tenant for three times the required relocation assistance and actual economic damages.
Please contact Lynx Legal with any questions regarding the above, and for all of your eviction needs. We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our experienced professionals are standing by to start your case or answer any questions you may have.