Under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482), evicting a tenant without “just cause” is forbidden for rent-controlled housing units. This limits the conditions under which a landlord may evict a tenant; typically, permitted reasons include nonpayment of rent, intentional damage to the unit, or illegal activity on the property. Additionally, “no fault just cause” evictions allow a landlord to take a property off the rental market (often to move into, or for redevelopment or substantial renovations). In a no fault just cause situation, the building’s owner must pay the tenant one month’s rent as relocation assistance.
Abundant Housing LA strongly advocates for limiting evictions to “just cause” scenarios; this policy prevents landlords from using sudden, sharp rent increases to push out tenants. We believe that these protections should be extended to more rental properties. AB 1482 exempts single-family homes not owned by a corporation or LLC, even though 23% of single-family homes are rental properties. Extending AB 1482 to cover all single-family homes, regardless of ownership, would ensure that more California renters are protected against unwarranted eviction.
Additionally, many cities in Los Angeles County, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Glendale, have their own similar just cause eviction ordinances. Los Angeles requires a higher level of relocation assistance in a “no fault just cause” situation; relocation assistance generally ranges from $8,750-$21,900. While this is higher than the amount mandated by state law, it is often not enough to support households looking for new homes. Abundant Housing LA believes that “no fault just cause” evictions should be resolved through a voluntary buyout program, with government oversight and free tenant access to professional arbitrators.
The best eviction protection policies are inadequate without proper enforcement. Many landlords still evict tenants illegally without demonstrating just cause. Local and state governments must ensure that tenants are aware of their rights, aggressively punish landlords who violate eviction laws repeatedly, and increase fines for illegal evictions. Los Angeles recently introduced a $10,000 fine on landlords who attempt to illegally evict tenants during the COVID-19 crisis; this higher fine should be kept in place after the pandemic.
Finally, better reporting of eviction data is needed. Landlords should be required to report all eviction filings to the local government, which will make it easier for cities to identify and prosecute landlords who regularly attempt to evict tenants. Eviction data should be made publicly available, allowing tenants to assess a potential or current landlord’s eviction history (which is more than fair, given that landlords vet potential tenants’ records for past evictions).
Part of our Tenants’ Rights Tuesdays series. We explore the challenges faced by renters, and the solutions for a more equitable LA.