Are ‘Just Cause’ Eviction Laws Coming to Your City?

Whether you agree or disagree with ‘just cause’ eviction initiatives, it looks like it’s going to be 2018’s next legislative trend. While a few cities across the U.S. have already enacted their own ‘just cause’ ordinances, parts of the country like Philadelphia, Portland, and the State of California are debating enacting their own ‘just cause’ eviction policies. Take a look to see if your properties and business could be affected.

What are ‘Just Cause’ Evictions?

‘Just cause’ eviction legislation requires property managers and owners to have a distinct ‘good’ (or ‘just’) reason for pursuing an eviction. These ‘just causes’ vary from bill to bill, but common reasons are the non-payment of rent, breach of lease, and owner-occupancy. Properties affected by this legislation can only evict tenants if they fit into one of the ‘just cause’ categories. The penalty for violating this varies by bill, but oftentimes involves a fee and/or the payment of the tenant’s relocation.

 

‘Just Cause’ Eviction Legislation Aims to Strike 3x at California

While California is in the midst of an all-out-war with rent control ordinances and potential ballot measures, ‘just cause’ eviction legislation has been slowly emerging. For state-wide legislation, a trio of bills that would impose ‘just cause’ eviction policies have been drafted.

  • AB 295 – Promised by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D – Alameda) AB 2925, would impose ‘just cause’ eviction controls. The full details of the bill have yet to be created (subscribe to receive updates).
  • AB 2364 and 2365 – Drafted by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica), AB 2364 would weaken the Ellis Act (which protects property owner’s rights to leave the rental housing industry). While the current version of this bill only focuses on density bonuses, the Assemblyman has previously announced his intent to amend the bill to have these provisions. The California Apartment Association notes that AB 2365 would triple the amount of notice owners must give before using the Ellis Act (to one year).
  • AB 2343 – This bill would require landlords to wait longer before starting the eviction process. Supported by Assemblyman David Chiu (D – San Francisco), the eviction wait time would be extended to 10 days when a tenant has failed to pay the rent and 5 days when a tenant violates the lease under this bill. Tenants would also have 14 days (rather than 5) to respond to the eviction suit.

Alongside these huge bills, local governments have been debating on instituting ‘just cause’ eviction policies as well. While these sentiments have been recently knocked down in the City of Petaluma, the City of Santa Cruz has instituted a temporary ordinance that establishes the causes in which a tenant may be evicted for. These include: failure to pay rent and breach of lease, causing a nuisance, illegal activity, failure to give landlord site access after they formally requested it, temporary vacancy for repairs that last 30 days or more, the owner or owner’s family wish to occupy the unit, or permanent withdrawal from the rental market (which would require at least a 120-day notice). Single-family properties are exempt from this new, temporary ordinance.

 

Philadelphia, PA is Closer to Instituting ‘Just Cause’ Eviction Policies

A ‘just cause’ eviction bill passed the committee on February 13th will go before the full Philadelphia City Council soon. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the bill defines a ‘just cause’ (or “good cause”) as non-payment of rent, property destruction, or non-conformation to the terms of the lease. Property owners would be required to provide 20 to 60 days’ notice before an eviction or substantial lease change (like a rent increase).

 

Portland, OR Debates Extending Relocation Fees to Single-Family Units

Portland’s current eviction policies are unique in that it does allow no-cause lease terminations, but requires property owners to pay the tenant’s relocation fees if they choose to cut their tenants loose without cause or raise the rent by at least 10%. While the Mandatory Rental Relocation Assistance law is scheduled to sunset in April, commissioners are planning on passing a permanent version that will extend to single-family homes and condos. As the Portland Mercury put it, “the city’s landlords are angry.” The city council will be scheduling a date to continue February 28th’s hearing of this bill in the near future.

Whether or not your properties are affected by the emerging ‘just cause’ eviction initiatives, have your Senator’s and your Congressmen’s contact information ready. No matter what rental housing legislation it is, it is easier to defeat a bill that is against your interests early on. As these ‘just cause’ eviction bills progress, subscribe for legislative updates.

 

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Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

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