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Summary of California’s Statewide Just Cause for Eviction Law

On October 8, 2019, the Governor of California approved Assembly Bill 1482, which establishes statewide rent and eviction controls.  The new law is effective on January 1, 2020.  The following is a summary of the just cause for eviction portion of the new law, which is found in the newly created Civil Code Section 1946.2.

JUST CAUSE FOR EVICTION

  •  Applies Only If Tenant Has Lawfully Occupied Property For 12 Months. If any additional adult tenants are added to the lease before an existing tenant has continuously and lawfully occupied the residential real property for 24 months, then this law applies if either: (1) all tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the residential real property for 12 months or more, or (2) one or more tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the residential real property for 24 months or more. 
  • Definition of Just Cause. Just cause includes either of the following:
  1. At-Fault Just Cause
  • Default in the payment of rent.
  • A breach of a material term of the lease, including, but not limited to, violation of a provision of the lease after being issued a written notice to correct the violation.
  • Maintaining, committing, or permitting the maintenance or commission of a nuisance.
  • Committing waste.
  • The tenant had a written lease that terminated on or after January 1, 2020, and after a written request or demand from the owner, the tenant has refused to execute a written extension or renewal of the lease for an additional term of similar duration with similar provisions, provided that those terms do not violate the law.
  • Criminal activity by the tenant on the residential real property, including any common areas, or any criminal activity or criminal threat on or off the residential real property, that is directed at any owner or agent of the owner of the residential real property.
  • Assigning or subletting the premises in violation of the tenant’s lease.
  • The tenant’s refusal to allow the owner to enter the residential real property as authorized by law.
  • Using the premises for an unlawful purpose.
  • The employee, agent, or licensee’s failure to vacate after their termination as an employee, agent, or a licensee.
  • When the tenant fails to deliver possession of the residential real property after providing the owner written notice of the tenant’s intention to terminate the hiring of the real property, or makes a written offer to surrender that is accepted in writing by the landlord, but fails to deliver possession at the time specified in that written notice.
  1. No-Fault Just Cause
  • Intent to occupy the residential real property by the owner or their spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents. For leases entered into on or after July 1, 2020, this section applies only if the tenant agrees, in writing, to the termination, or if a provision of the lease allows the owner to terminate the lease if the owner, or their spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, parents, or grandparents, unilaterally decides to occupy the residential real property.
  • Withdrawal of the residential real property from the rental market.
  • To Comply with Court Order, Government Order or Law. The owner complying with any of the following: (i) an order issued by a government agency or court relating to habitability that necessitates vacating the residential real property, (ii) an order issued by a government agency or court to vacate the residential real property, or (iii) a local ordinance that necessitates vacating the residential real property.
  • Intent to demolish or to substantially remodel the residential real property. For purposes of this section, “substantially remodel” means the replacement or substantial modification of any structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical system that requires a permit from a governmental agency, or the abatement of hazardous materials, including lead-based paint, mold, or asbestos, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, that cannot be reasonably accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in place and that requires the tenant to vacate the residential real property for at least 30 days. Cosmetic improvements alone, including painting, decorating, and minor repairs, or other work that can be performed safely without having the residential real property vacated, do not qualify as substantial rehabilitation. 
  • Opportunity to Cure Certain Lease Violations. Before an owner issues a notice to terminate a tenancy for just cause that is a curable lease violation, the owner must first give the tenant a Three-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit. If the violation is not cured within the time period set forth in the notice, a three-day notice to quit without an opportunity to cure may thereafter be served to terminate the tenancy.
  • Relocation Assistance for No Fault Just Cause Termination. For a tenancy for which just cause is required to terminate the tenancy, if an owner issues a termination notice based on a no-fault just cause, the owner must do one of the following: (1) assist the tenant to relocate by providing a direct payment to the tenant, or (2) waive in writing the payment of rent for the final month of the tenancy, prior to the rent becoming due.
  • Amount of Relocation Assistance. The amount of relocation assistance or rent waiver is equal to one month of the tenant’s rent that was in effect when the owner issued the notice to terminate the tenancy.
  • When Paid. Any relocation assistance must be provided within 15 calendar days of service of the notice. If an owner issues a notice to terminate a tenancy for no-fault just cause, the owner must notify the tenant of the tenant’s right to relocation assistance or rent waiver. If the owner elects to waive the rent for the final month of the tenancy, the notice must state the amount of rent waived and that no rent is due for the final month of the tenancy. 
  • Tenant’s Failure to Vacate. If a tenant fails to vacate after the expiration of the notice to terminate the tenancy, the actual amount of any relocation assistance or rent waiver is recoverable as damages in an action to recover possession. 
  • No Double Recovery of Relocation Assistance. The relocation assistance or rent waiver required by this law is to be credited against any other relocation assistance required by any other law. 
  • Tenant at Fault for Causing Condition Triggering Need to Vacate. If it is determined by any government agency or court that the tenant is at fault for the condition or conditions triggering the order or need to vacate, the tenant is not entitled to relocation assistance.
  • Failure to Comply Voids Notice. An owner’s failure to strictly comply with the just cause for eviction requirements renders the notice of termination void.
  • Exemptions from Just Cause for Eviction
  • Transient and tourist hotel occupancy.
  • Housing accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, extended care facility, or licensed residential care facility for the elderly.
  • Dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12 school.
  • Housing accommodations in which the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner who maintains their principal residence at the residential real property.
  • Single-family owner-occupied residences, including a residence in which the owner-occupant rents or leases no more than two units or bedrooms, including, but not limited to, an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.
  • A duplex in which the owner occupied one of the units as the owner’s principal place of residence at the beginning of the tenancy, so long as the owner continues in occupancy.
  • Housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years.
  • Residential real property that is alienable separate from the title to any other dwelling unit, provided that both of the following apply: (a) The owner is not any of the following: (i) a real estate investment trust, (ii) a corporation, (iii) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation; and (b) The tenants have been provided written notice that the residential property is exempt from this section using the following statement: “This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code. This property meets the requirements of Sections 1947.12 (d)(5) and 1946.2 (e)(8) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.” For a tenancy existing before July 1, 2020, the notice may be provided in the rental agreement. For any tenancy commenced or renewed on or after July 1, 2020, the notice must be provided in the rental agreement.
  • Housing restricted by deed, regulatory restriction contained in an agreement with a government agency, or other recorded document as affordable housing for persons and families of very low, low, or moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the California Health and Safety Code, or subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing for persons and families of very low, low, or moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the California Health and Safety Code or comparable federal statutes.
  • Required Notice of Just Cause Protections. An owner of residential real property subject to this just cause law must provide notice to the tenant as follows. For any tenancy commenced or renewed on or after July 1, 2020, as an addendum to the lease or rental agreement, or as a written notice signed by the tenant, with a copy provided to the tenant. For a tenancy existing prior to July 1, 2020, by written notice to the tenant no later than August 1, 2020, or as an addendum to the lease or rental agreement. The notification or lease provision must be in no less than 12-point type, and shall include the following: “California law limits the amount your rent can be increased. See Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code for more information. California law also provides that after all of the tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 12 months or more or at least one of the tenants has continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 24 months or more, a landlord must provide a statement of cause in any notice to terminate a tenancy. See Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code for more information.” The notice requires a translation if the lease is negotiated in a language other than English.
  • Effect of Local Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance. The just cause for eviction protections do not apply to: (1) Residential real property subject to a local ordinance requiring just cause for termination of a residential tenancy adopted on or before September 1, 2019, in which case the local ordinance shall apply; (2) Residential real property subject to a local ordinance requiring just cause for termination of a residential tenancy adopted or amended after September 1, 2019, that is more protective than this section, in which case the local ordinance shall apply. A residential real property is not subject to both a local ordinance requiring just cause for termination of a residential tenancy and this law. A local ordinance adopted after September 1, 2019, that is less protective than this section shall not be enforced unless this section is repealed.
  • No Waiver of Tenant Rights. Any waiver of the rights under the just cause law is void.
  • Sunset Date. The just cause for eviction law will remain in effect until January 1, 2030.

The law firm of Ruzicka, Wallace & Coughlin, LLP represents landlords, property management companies, institutional and private lenders, employers and insurance companies throughout the State of California in real estate, business and employment litigation. The information provided herein is for general interest only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.

October 19, 2019 | Landlord-Tenant Law |