San Diego Tenants Right to Know Protections

Are there any laws in San Diego that prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant?

In California, there are no statewide laws that prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant, provided that the landlord gives the appropriate written notice to terminate. There are many cities that have enacted ordinances to protect tenants and limit how and when landlords can raise rents and evict tenants.  The City of San Diego does not have any rent control, however, The Tenants Right to Know Regulation is a San Diego Municipal Ordinance enacted in 2004 that provides residential tenants with some protection against arbitrary evictions.

The ordinance requires that if a tenant has lived at the same residence for at least two years, then a landlord wishing to terminate the tenancy must provide a written notice that explains why the tenancy is being terminated.  Note that this law does not apply to non-payment of rent cases, which can be brought by a landlord if the rent is due and unpaid after giving three days written notice to the tenant demanding the payment of rent.

The Tenants’ Right to Know Regulation includes a list of permissible reasons why a landlord may evict even a long-term tenant.  If your landlord is trying to evict you for a reason that is not included among the acceptable reasons listed, or doesn’t list a reason at all, then you have a right to demand the reason why the tenancy is being terminated, and if your landlord attempts to evict you with giving a valid reason, then you have a legal defense in court.  Contact a us at

The text of the regulation in full follows below.

San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 9: Building, Housing and Sign Regulations
Article 8: Housing
Division 7: Tenants’ Right to Know Regulations

§98.0701 Purpose of Tenants’ Right to Know Regulations

The purpose of these regulations is to promote stability in the San Diego rental
housing market and limit adverse impacts on long-term residential tenants displaced
and forced to find replacement housing in the expensive and limited San Diego
housing market. The regulations protect the rights of long-term residential tenants by
limiting grounds for their eviction and requiring landlords to provide notice of such
grounds. The rights conferred by these regulations are in addition to any provided in
state or federal law.

§98.0702 When Tenants’ Right to Know Regulations Apply

This division applies to the rental of any rental unit (as defined in section 98.0720) in
the City except as specifically exempted in section 98.0725.

§98.0720 Definitions

The following definitions apply to the administration and enforcement of this
“Condominium” means the same as defined in sections 783 and 1357 of the
California Civil Code.
“Landlord” means an owner, lessor, sublessor or any other person or entity entitled to
offer any residential unit for rent or entitled to receive rent for the use and occupancy
of any rental-unit.
“Resident manager” means a person who resides on the premises and is employed to
perform or to be responsible for the operation and/or maintenance of the rental-units
on the premises.
“Rental-unit” means a room or a group of two or more rooms designed, intended, or
used for human habitation. Rental-units include apartments, condominiums, stock
cooperatives, single-dwelling units, and hotel units not exempted under section
“Single-dwelling unit” means a single detached structure containing one dwelling unit
for human habitation and accessory buildings appurtenant thereto located on a lot or
parcel and all housing services provided in connection with the use or occupancy
“Stock cooperative” means the same as defined in California Business and
Professions Code section 11003.2.
“Tenancy” means the right or entitlement of a tenant to use or occupy a rental-unit.

§98.0725 Exemptions

The following shall be exempt from the requirements of this division:
(a) Institutional Facilities. Housing accommodations in any hospital, convent,
monastery, extended care facility, asylum, nonprofit home for the aged,
fraternity, or sorority house, housing accommodations owned, operated, or
managed by a bona fide educational institution for occupancy by its students
or rental-units that require intake, case management or counseling and an
occupancy agreement as part of the occupation.
(b) Agency Owned or Subsidized Units. Any rental-unit owned, operated, or
subsidized by any government agency, and which is therefore subject to
substantially similar or greater state or federal eviction controls.
(c) Rooms Rented to Boarders. A rental-unit in which the landlord owns the
rental-unit, shares kitchen or bath facilities with the tenants, and also occupies
the rental-unit or a unit in the same building as his or her principal residence.
(d) Rental-Units in Hotels, Motels, or Rooming Houses Rented to Transient
Guests which do not qualify as Single Room Occupancy Hotel Rooms
pursuant to San Diego Municipal Code Chapter 14, Article 3, Division 5.
(e) Mobile Homes. Mobile homes subject to Mobilehome Residency Law
(California Civil Code, Chapter 2.5).
(f) Transient occupancies defined by California Civil Code section 1940(b).

§98.0730 Termination of Tenancy

A residential tenancy of more than two years duration shall not be terminated, nor
shall its renewal be refused, except for one or more of the following reasons:
(a) Nonpayment of Rent.
(b) Violation of Obligation of Tenancy. The tenant has violated a lawful and
material obligation or covenant of the tenancy, except that the following may
not be grounds for termination or nonrenewal of a tenancy:
(1) The failure to surrender possession of the rental-unit upon the
expiration of a specified term, except as provided in
section 98.0730(e);
(c) Nuisance. The tenant is committing a nuisance or permitting a nuisance in, or
is causing damage to, the rental-unit or to the appurtenances thereof or to the
common areas of the housing complex containing the rental-unit, or is
creating an unreasonable interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment
of any of the other residents of the housing complex.
(d) Illegal Use. The tenant is using or permitting the rental-unit to be used for an
illegal purpose.
(e) Refusal to Renew Lease. The tenant who had a written lease or rental
agreement which terminated on or after April 26, 2004 has refused, after
written request by the landlord, to execute a written extension or renewal
thereof within the written period prescribed by the lease or state law for a
further term of like duration with similar provisions.
(f) Refusal to Provide Access. The tenant has refused to give the landlord
reasonable access to the rental-unit for the purpose of making repairs or
improvements, or for the purpose of inspection as permitted or required by the
lease or by law, or for the purpose of showing the rental-unit to any
prospective purchaser or mortgagee.
(g) Correction of Violations. The landlord, after having obtained all necessary
permits from the City of San Diego, seeks to recover possession of the rentalunit
for necessary repair or construction when removal of the tenant is
reasonably necessary to accomplish the repair or construction work.
(h) Withdrawal of Residential Rental Structure from the Rental Market. The
landlord intends to withdraw all rental-units in all buildings or structures on a
parcel of land from the rental market.
(i) Owner or Relative Occupancy. The landlord, or his or her spouse, parent,
grandparent, brother, sister, child, grandchild (by blood or adoption), or a
resident manager plans to occupy the rental unit as their principal residence.

§98.0750 Notice to Tenant

Any landlord who attempts to terminate a tenancy pursuant to any of the grounds set
forth in section 98.0730 shall provide the tenant a written notice to quit or terminate
which recites the grounds under which the landlord is proceeding. The landlord shall
provide the notice prior to or at the same time as the written notice of termination set
forth in Civil Code section 1946, or a three-day notice described in Code of Civil
Procedure sections 1161 and 1161a, is served on the tenant

§98.0760 Affirmative Defense

In any action by a landlord to recover possession of a rental-unit, the tenant may
raise as an affirmative defense any violation or noncompliance with the provisions of
this division.

If you live in the City of San Diego and have received a notice to terminate your tenancy that you believe violates the City ordinance, then you should talk to an attorney about your situation.

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