The City Council in El Cerrito, California is considering a restriction that would limit the reasons a landlord would have for evicting a tenant.
Referred to as “just cause eviction” or “eviction for good cause”, these rules are not new, and seen most frequently in connection to rent stabilization policies. In fact, according to a report by Contra Costa Times, the mayor of El Cerrito suggests bypassing the just cause eviction discussion and going straight to a rent control scheme.
However, rent control rules have proven contentious in neighboring cities. Most notably, implementation of a requirement that investors who choose to take rent control properties out of service in San Francisco, presumably to convert the properties to market rents, must pay tenants a “relocation fee” equal to 2 years rent was recently blocked by the courts. A judge in that case commented that landlords are not at fault for the conditions of the current housing market.
If passed, the just cause eviction law would force landlords to be even more vigilant when it comes to tenant screening, or face the possibility of serious income loss.
According to the report, market rents in the popular enclave have risen 41 percent in the past four years, and lawmakers want to slow that increase in the future. One lawmaker stated that rents there are double the national average.
In contrast to rent caps, a just cause eviction ordinance could thwart a landlord’s attempt to remove a tenant who cannot afford to pay rent increases.
Landlords in any city face a daunting challenge when it comes to evicting tenants because most local statutes already limit the grounds that a landlord can apply to justify an eviction. These reasons usually include non–payment of rent, disruptive or dangerous behavior or damage to the property. The just cause rules purportedly would go farther, giving landlords a laundry list of specific reasons for evicting a tenant, and therefore eliminating any other reason if it is not listed.
Common limitations under similar ordinances include restrictions on evicting a tenant over criminal activity if the landlord cannot draw a reasonable nexus between the crime and the security of the property.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.