Civil Code §1946.2 may not Displace Other Local Laws that Protect Tenants from Unjust Eviction
Several cities across California already have ordinances that require just cause to evict residential tenants. Whether these municipal ordinances will be replaced by the new statewide eviction controls enacted by the Tenant Protection Act will depend on the individual features of those ordinances.
The California legislature has explicitly stated that it does not intend to replace local laws that already require just cause for termination of residential tenancies, if those laws were adopted on or before September 1, 2019, so long as those already existing ordinances are more protective than the new just cause requirements. “More protective” is defined to mean:
The just cause requirements for termination under the local ordinance are consistent with Civil Code Section 1946.2
The ordinance further limits the reasons for termination of a residential tenancy, provides for higher relocation assistance amounts, or provides additional tenant protections that are not prohibited by any other provision of law.
The local government has made a binding finding within their local ordinance that the ordinance is more protective than the provisions of this section.
Residential Rentals will not be Subject to Both a Local Ordinance Requiring Just Cause to Evict and Civil Code § 1946.2.
Civil Code §1946.2(g)(2) states: A residential real property shall not be subject to both a local ordinance requiring just cause for termination of a residential tenancy and this section.” However, the placement of this subparagraph within the text of the statute suggests that any local laws that are less protective than Section 1946.2 may be supplanted, if they were enacted after September 2019.
Subparagraph (g)(2) immediately follows the clauses that require local laws to be either consistent with the Protecting Tenants Act, or have even more protections, or that any local government enacting just cause protections pass a resolution affirming that their ordinance is more protective than the just cause requirements now enacted Statewide.
Subparagraph §1946.2(g)(1)(A), however, simply states that the regulations do not apply to “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. ”
§1946.2(g)(1)(A), creates a strange discrepancy wherein certain long term tenants (like those living in San Diego, who are protected by the Tenants Right to Know Regulations) may not be entitled to relocation benefits even though they are being terminated through no fault of their own.
San Diego’s Tenants’ Right to Know Regulations
San Diego already has a municipal ordinance that contains a just cause requirement. The “Tenants’ Right to Know” protections (see San Diego Municipal Code § §98.0730 et al.) are very similar to the requirements of the new Civil Code Section 1946.2, and in some cases they are more restrictive. For example, the exclusions in the Civil Code Section which make it inapplicable to properties built in the past 15 years, single-family residences owned by individuals, and duplexes do not apply.
So, if you live in San Diego, and the rental unit you lived in was built after 2005, or a duplex shared with your landlord in the other unit, the State statute would not protect you, but if you have lived there for more than two years, you would still be protected by the local Tenants’ Right to Know regulations.
However, The San Diego Tenants’ Right to Know regulations are not as restrictive as the Civil Code just cause requirements in other ways.
They do not not protect tenants who have lived in units for less than 2 years, whereas the Civil Code §1946.2 requirements apply to tenants who have continually occupied a rental property for 12 months. The San Diego Municipal regulations also do not require the payment of any relocation fees.
As of the end of 2019, the City Council of San Diego has not taken up any effort to change the Tenants’ Right to Know Regulations to require the payment of relocation assistance for “No Fault” terminations.
What this means is that whether any particular San Diego tenant, whose tenancy is not protected by the Tenants’ Right to Know regulations, may still assert his or her rights under Civil Code §1946.2, and potentially demand relocation benefits, will have to be decided in court.
Given the differences between the Tenants’ Right to Know regulations and State law just cause requirements, San Diego tenants should not assume anything.
Tenants should Educate Themselves with Help from Legal Counsel Before Jumping to Conclusions
If you have legal questions about how the just cause requirements of Civil Code § 1946.2 will protect you, whether you are a tenant in San Diego, or elsewhere in California, speak with a tenant’s rights attorney. It’s good news that California now mandates landlords have just cause before terminating most residential tenancies. However, the fight is not over. Rest assured that landlord attorneys and property managers will be working hard to find ways to get around the law. But don’t get discouraged.
Landlords are not the only ones who have attorneys.
Tenants cannot assume that the just cause eviction controls will bring about a new era of well-behaved landlords. The law is only meaningful when tenants understand it, effectively assert their rights under it, and if needed, have the backing of an attorney who will stand by them to back it up. You may be surprised to learn all the different ways we can fight to protect your home. Don’t think you have to go it alone, or rely upon the opinions of friends and neighbors, or what you read online. Get professional legal help from a tenant defender.