With the constant housing crisis wreaking havoc on communities throughout the state, the California Legislature recently passed California Rent Control, which extends rent control and just cause eviction protections to nearly eight million tenants throughout the state.  The implications of this much-needed relief will be widespread and felt for years to come.  As a result of California Rent Control, many California tenants now have the tools necessary to fight back against their abuse landlords. If you rent a unit in a building that was built more than 15 years from the date you are reading this, you may be protected.  Continue reading Astanehe Law’s California Rent Control article to learn about your rights and how you can respond to an abusive landlord.

To discuss your options, call Astanehe Law at (415) 226-7170 or email Astanehe Law at contact@astanehelaw.com.  Our experienced tenant attorneys are ready to assist you!

California Rent Control

California Rent Control, which is codified at Civil Code § 1947.12, makes it illegal for a landlord to increase a tenants rent more than 5 %, plus inflation, or 10%, whichever is lower.  Civil Code § 1947.12(a)(1).  Additionally, landlords are limited to only two rent increases during any twelve months.  Civil Code § 1947.12(a)(2).  California Rent Control does not apply to the following tenancies:

  1. Tenants in a building built within the last 15 years;
  2. Tenants in affordable housing or units with a housing subsidy;
  3. Dorms constructed & maintained by a school or university;
  4. Tenants whose rent is subject to rent control set by a public entity;
  5. Tenants on property that is alienable & separate from any other dwelling where the landlord is not a real estate investment trust, corporation, or limited liability company; or,
  6. Tenants in a duplex where the owner occupies one of the units as their principal residence at the beginning and throughout the tenancy. Civil Code § 1947.12(d).

Please note that for the single-family home and condominium exception to apply, the landlord must disclose that the unit is exempt from California Rent Control in the lease. Civil Code § 1946.2(8)(B). For tenancies existing before July 1, 2020, the landlord need only provide disclosure of the exemption in writing. Id.

A landlord can never force a tenant to waive his or her California Rent Control rights.  Civil Code § 1947.12(i).

California Rent Control is set to remain in effect until January 1, 2030.  Civil Code § 1947.12(j).

California Just Cause Eviction Protections

California Rent Control protects tenants with just cause for eviction protections. Just cause for eviction means that a landlord can only evict a tenant where a reason provided by California Rent Control exists.  If the landlord cannot cite the part of California Rent Control that forms the basis of the eviction, the termination of tenancy is invalid, and the tenant can remain in the unit.

California Rent Control’s Just Causes for Eviction

Under California Rent Control, a landlord may evict a tenant only for:

  1. Nonpayment of rent;
  2. A major breach of the lease;
  3. Creating a nuisance;
  4. Destroying the property;
  5. Refusing to sign a new similar written lease;
  6. Criminal activity on the property;
  7. Unlawfully subletting or assigning the property;
  8. Refusing the landlord’s lawful entry requests;
  9. Committing waste in violation of the lease;
  10. A live-in employee’s failure to vacate after termination as an employee;
  11. A tenant’s failure to vacate after receiving a valid termination of tenancy notice;
  12. An owner or relative move-in;
  13. An Ellis Act eviction;
  14. A government order to vacate; and,
  15. A demolition eviction or substantial remodeling eviction. Civil Code § 1946.2(a).

California Rent Control’s just cause of eviction protections apply where the tenant has resided in the unit for twelve months.  Civil Code § 1946.2(a).  If a new adult tenant moves into the unit, then all of the tenants must live in the unit for twelve months or, at least one of the tenants must have lived at the property for at least twenty-four months for the just cause protections to apply.  Id.

Units Not Covered by California Rent Control Eviction Protection

California Rent Control’s just cause for eviction protection does not apply to:

  1. Housing built within the previous 15 years;
  2. Units in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels;
  3. Nonprofit hospitals, religious facilities, extended care facilities, elderly homes, and dorms owned & operated by a school or university;
  4. Units where the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner, who lives in the unit as their principal residence;
  5. Single-family owner-occupied residences, including a unit in which the owner-occupant rents no more than 2 units or bedrooms, including an ADU;
  6. Duplexes in which the owner occupied one of the units as a principal residence at the beginning of the tenancy, so long as the owner remains;
  7. Residential real property that is alienable and separate from the title to any other dwelling unit where the landlord is not a real estate investment trust, corporation, or a limited liability company; and,
  8. Affordable housing or units with a housing subsidy. Civil Code § 1946.2(e).

Where a landlord serves a termination of tenancy notice on a tenant, the written notice must contain the just cause for eviction that allows the termination to occur lawfully.  Civil Code § 1946.2(a).  Where the just cause is a curable alleged violation, the landlord must give the tenant an opportunity, via written notice, to cure the alleged violation.  Civil Code § 1946.2(c).

Where a unit was covered by a local rent control law with just cause for eviction protections prior to September 1, 2019, the local rent control law applies.  Civil Code § 1946.2(g).  For newer local rent control laws, the local rent control law will apply if it is more protective of the tenant than California Rent Control.  Id.

California Rent Control Relocation Assistance

California Rent Control provides tenants with relocation assistance for lawful no-fault evictions.  Where a tenancy is terminated an owner or relative move-in, Ellis Act eviction, government order to vacate, or a demolition or substantial remodeling eviction, the landlord must provide the tenant with relocation assistance.  Civil Code § 1946.2(d).  Within 15 days of serving a termination of tenancy notice, the landlord must pay one month’s rent as relocation assistance.  Id.  Instead of making a payment to the tenant, the landlord may waive the last months’ rent.  Id.  This waiver must be made in writing.  Id.  A landlord’s failure to strictly comply with California Rent Control’s just cause of eviction protection relocation assistance laws render a notice of tenancy void.  Civil Code § 1946.2(d).

Money Damages Recovered For California Rent Control Violations & Wrongful Eviction

Now that many Californians have rent control and just cause eviction protections, covered tenants can exert their rights and recover money damages in a lawsuit for violations of California Rent Control. In addition to recovering all rent paid in violation of California Rent Control, a wrongfully evicted tenant can recover the value of the lost California Rent Control protected unit they were forced to vacate.  Additionally, a wrongfully evicted tenant can recover for their landlord’s failure to pay relocation assistance.

If you have been wrongfully evicted, or are facing the prospect of a wrongful eviction, in violation of California Rent Control, contact Astanehe Law to discuss your options.

If your landlord has violated California Rent Control, contact Astanehe Law immediately at (415) 226-7170 or contact@astanehelaw.com to discuss your options.  One of our experienced tenants’ rights attorneys will be able to speak with you and equip you with the knowledge necessary to fight back against your landlord’s abuse.  Astanehe Law knows tenant rights!