Summary of Just Cause Requirements
California Civil Code Section 1946.2 requires that landlords have “just cause” to terminate or evict certain long-term tenants. This statute rohibits an owner of residential real property (with certain exceptions) from terminating a tenancy without “just cause,” when the tenant has continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 12 months or longer.
The Statute explains that property owners may still terminate for causes related to lease violations, or unlawful uses. If you a tenant is unable to pay rent, or subleases in violation of a lease contract, or does substantial damage to a rental property, then the Just Cause Requirements do not protect her from being terminated with a three day notice.
However, if the reason for the landlord issuing a notice to terminate is not related to a breach of contract or failure to pay rent, then the landlord will have to comply with the Just Cause requirements.
There are only a limited number of acceptable reasons to terminate under the statute. These are limited to the property being removed from the rental market, the property owner is going to demolish the property, or the owner, or an immediate relative intends to move into the property (Civil Code §1946.2(2)).
Before making any decisions about whether a notice to terminate is valid under California law, it is important that tenants received competent legal counsel and advice. The Just Cause requirements, as well as what constitutes legal service, are technical and there is a lot of ways tenants can push back against attempts to terminate.
Certain residential tenancies, and all commercial tenancies, are exempt from the eviction controls. Residential exemptions are listed in California Civil Code section 1946.2, subdivisions (e) and (g), which also refers to other California statutes to define certain terms.
- Transient and tourist hotel occupancy as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1940.
- Housing accommodations in a nonprofit hospital, religious facility, extended care facility, licensed residential care facility for the elderly, or incapacitated adults.
- Dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, 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.
- Most categories of subsidized affordable housing
To summarize, the protections do not apply to newer buildings that have been built within the last 15 years, shared houses where the owner still resides and rents no more than two of the bedrooms, or separate apartments, when the property is a duplex or there is a separate detached legally permitted dwelling on the same parcel, dorms, hospitals, and hotels, and subsidized affordable housing.
The exceptions to the rules also apply to certain kinds of owners. If the residence is separate from the title to any other dwelling unit (meaning a single family residence) the landlord will not have to supply a just cause to evict if both of the following apply:
The owner is not any of the following:
(i) A real estate investment trust, as defined in Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code.
(ii) A corporation.
(iii) A limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.
Landlord Duties to Disclose
Owners of residential rentals who believe they are exempt from the just cause and rent control requirements created by Civil Code §1946.2 must provide written notice to their tenant explaining how they are protected against unjust eviction and excessive rent increases. In at least 12 point font the notice must state 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 (Civil Code § 1946.2(f)(3)).
For any tenancy that was initiated or renewed after July 1, 2020, the lease agreement must explain whether the rental property is exempt from the just cause requirements.
For those tenancies already existing prior to July 1, 2020, if the landlord claims to be exempt from the just cause requirement, he must have given written notice to the tenant , or entered into an addendum to the lease or rental agreement, explaining this assertion no later than August 1, 2020
If the landlord or property management never provided an addendum to the lease, or rental agreement, nor in a written notice signed by the tenant, then that landlord will not be able to lawfully terminate the tenancy without just cause, even if he or she may have been otherwise exempt from the Just Cause requirements.
Get legal counsel to resolve uncertainties
Even if you believe that the rental property you live in may not be covered by the law, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney before you jump to any conclusions, or simply accept that your landlord can force you to move for any reason whatsoever.
The expense of getting reliable counsel and advice from a lawyer specializing in landlord/tenant law is very small compared to the cost of moving, or potentially having to face a fight in court unprepared.
The just cause requirements that will now be in place could represent a life changing opportunity for California tenants that are correctly educated on the law and who aren’t afraid to assert their rights. Now is the time for California tenants to stand up and speak up.
I encourage you to use the link below to set up a consultation with an attorney dedicated to defending tenants’ rights.
If you are still uncertain whether you need an attorney to defend against a threatened eviction, then call us today to discuss your case, or fill out the form below in order to explain how we can help, and we will reply to you.