The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“Act”) went into effect on January 1, 2020 and established new limits on a landlord’s ability to terminate a lease and evict a residential tenant. A landlord must now provide just cause for terminating either a month-to-month tenancy or not renewing a fixed term lease.
The just cause requirement applies when either:
- All tenants have continuously occupied the unit for 12 months or more, or
- One or more tenants have continuously occupied the unit for more than 24 months.
There are two different types of just cause, the first is at-fault just cause and the second is no-fault just cause.
At-fault just cause includes any tenant:
- Default in paying rent;
- Breaching the lease;
- Committing a nuisance or waste;
- Committing criminal activity in the unit;
- Failing to sign a written extension or renewal of the lease on similar terms as the current lease;
- Not vacating the premises after providing written notice of lease termination to the landlord;
- Not allowing landlord access to the unit as permitted under the law; and
- Certain other situations.
No-fault just cause is when the landlord:
- Intends to occupy the unit;
- Withdraws the unit from the rental market;
- Substantially remodels the unit; or
- Subjects the unit to a government order relating to habitability.
In either just cause situation, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant of the reason for terminating the lease. However, if it is a no-fault just cause termination, then the landlord must make a relocation payment to the tenant either by (i) issuing a payment to the tenant for one month of the then-current rent (which must be paid within 15 days of serving the termination notice on the tenant), or (ii) waiving the last month’s rent.
A relocation payment is not required if (i) any government agency or court determines that the tenant is at fault for causing the condition that led to the landlord terminating the lease, or (ii) the tenant fails to vacate at the end of the lease in a no-fault termination notice. In the latter situation, the landlord could try to recover any relocation payment made to the tenant.
These new just-cause eviction requirements do not apply to:
- Housing restricted by deed;
- Regulatory restrictions contained in an agreement with a governmental agency;
- Affordable housing for very low, low, or moderate income people;
- An owner-occupied duplex;
- Housing subject to existing local rent control ordinances (if the ordinances are more restrictive than those in the act);
- Housing built within the last 15 years;
- Single-family residences or condominiums (if certain requirements are met); or
- An owner occupied property in which the tenant rents (i) one or two rooms and shares a bathroom or kitchen facilities, or (ii) an accessory dwelling unit; and
- Other more technical exceptions.
This article is written by Patrick Casey, who is a business attorney with JRG Attorneys At Law in Monterey. You may reach the author at (831) 269-7114 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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