The California Tenant Protection Act of 2019
Recently signed into law, the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 is a significant piece of legislation that every landlord and tenant should be aware of. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. It generally caps rent increases at 5% annually, plus inflation, and requires “just cause” for evictions where a tenant has lived in the property for a year or more. The “just cause” must be stated in the eviction notice. Certain properties are exempted from these requirements, but the new legislation will apply to most residential rentals.
“Just cause” is broken down into at-fault and no-fault causes for eviction. “At-fault just cause” includes nonpayment of rent, material breaches of lease terms after notice and an opportunity to cure, criminal activities on the property or criminal threats against the owner or owner’s agent, nuisance or waste (as legally defined), and improper subletting or assignment of the premises. If the tenant’s lease expires, the owner requests in writing that the tenant sign a new lease on the same or substantially similar terms, and the tenant declines to do so, that is also included within at-fault just cause. “No-fault just cause” includes occupancy of the premises by the owner or specified relatives, withdrawing the property from the rental market, compliance with a government order or local ordinance that requires the property to be vacated, or the intent to demolish or substantially remodel the property. There are additional provisions that may apply in some cases.
In order to terminate a tenant based on no-fault just cause, the landlord must either pay the tenant relocation assistance in an amount equal to one month’s rent within 15 days after the eviction notice, or waive rent for the final month of the tenancy. If the landlord does not do so, the eviction notice is void. If the tenant does not vacate the premises within the time stated in the eviction notice, the landlord may recover the amount of the relocation assistance or rent waiver as damages in an unlawful detainer lawsuit. In addition, a landlord terminating the tenancy based on no-fault just cause is required to notify the tenants of their right to a relocation assistance payment or rent waiver.
This is a significant and fairly complex piece of legislation that affects most tenants and owners of residential property. A landlord-tenant attorney can help you make sense of the new law, avoid any pitfalls, and ensure that your eviction fully complies with this legislation.