“Just Cause” Eviction (Law Changes: AB1482)

The just cause eviction law is something that most landlords in major cities in California already have had to deal with for a long time.  But if you just own property in Long Beach or most of Orange County, you’ve never had to deal with a just cause eviction law.  Up until now, if you wanted to remove a tenant for something other than non-payment of rent, you could serve a tenant with a sixty-day notice and if they didn’t follow the notice, you could start an eviction.  There were restrictions to the sixty-day notice as in you couldn’t remove tenants for requesting repairs.  But it was relatively easy to remove tenants who were violating the lease for something that might be more difficult to prove.  

Now, California has a just cause eviction law which removes your option for a sixty-day notice.  You must have a reason, I.e., they must violate a portion of the lease before you can start an eviction.  Of course, non-payment is the easiest and least refutable violations of the lease.  The rest is difficult.  

California now puts the burden on landlords to prove a tenant is violating the lease before you can proceed with an eviction.  I have not had to pursue one of these evictions, but one can only assume that you must collect evidence and collect statements from the affected parties.  You would then take that information to an eviction attorney and he can advise you on the efficacy of your case.  

Our Verdict

Just cause eviction law provides an unfair burden on landlords to prove they have tenants violating the lease.  Property management companies and property owners are not detective agencies and can not spend all day at the property to catch their tenants acting up. You must be able to prove to a court that the tenant is violating the lease.  

Affects:  

This will affect the rental market in a negative way.  In the past, you could take a risk on a tenant with poor credit or a poor application if you thought they would be a good tenant.  This was because even if the tenant did not work out, you could always remove them from the property without going through an eviction.  Since it is no longer possible, you are probably passing on a lot of good tenants, just so you don’t get a tenant you do not want.  

This also affects renters who are forced to live near a problem tenant.  If a neighbor in your building is a noise nuisance, it will take the landlord a lot longer to remove them from the property.  A lot of owners will be reluctant to go through this process because they have been through it before and it is not fun or easy.  I’ve lost good-paying tenants because of problems with their neighbor that I can’t solve rapidly.  

There are exceptions to this rule but they too come with consequences.  You can ask tenants to move for the following reasons.  

  1.  Rehabbing a unit to the extent that the tenants can not be in residence during the construction.
  2. Moving a family member or yourself into the unit.  Please check AB 1482 to see how close the familial relationship must be. 
  3. You are removing the unit from the rental market.  I.E.  the tenant will no longer be available to rent. 
  4. Tenants who have resided in a unit for under 12 months.   

The consequences of removing tenants to complete these tasks are you have to pay them.  The rule is one month rent in a move out allowance paid to the tenant with 15 days of their notice.  You can still make deductions from their deposit in the usual fashion but you might face a large payout for preceding with this option.

Note: The above blog post is our opinion only. It is not to be constructed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney.

For more information on the law please see: California’s Legislative Information Website

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