Thanks to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which took effect on January 1, 2020, tenants who reside in the Greater Bay Area of California and who do not have local rent control or eviction control protections are now protected from arbitrary and unfair rent increases and evictions.
Under the law, tenants generally are protected when they have occupied their rental unit for 12 months or more. At that point, landlords must have a valid reason for evicting a tenant. Landlords must also provide to the tenant written notice of the eviction, including the reason for the eviction. Valid, “just cause” reasons for eviction include failure to pay rent, violation of the lease agreement and engaging in illegal activities on the property, among others. The law also includes “just cause” reasons for eviction where the tenant is not at fault, such as when the landlord wants to move into the unit themselves or when the landlord wants to take the unit off the rental market.
Unfortunately, not all housing is protected under the statewide law. Tenants in certain types of housing do not have “just cause” eviction protections, including owner-occupied housing in multiple-dwelling buildings (where no more than two units or bedrooms are rented), single-family homes and condos where the owner is an individual and rental units that have been constructed within the previous 15 years, among others.
Tenants whose rights under the Tenant Protection Act have been violated can sue their landlords in court for money damages.
New, Stronger Protections for California Tenants
On April 1, 2024, a new law will take effect in California that will strengthen protections for tenants by amending the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which extended rent control and eviction control rights to tenants who reside in areas that are not otherwise subject to local rent or eviction controls.
What Does the New Law Do?
The new law, SB 567, will, among other things, add the following tenant protections:
- Landlords who evict a tenant so that the landlord or their family member can move into the unit (so-called “owner move-in evictions”) must move into the unit within 90 days and must reside in the unit continuously for at least 12 months as their primary residence.
- Landlords who evict a tenant so they can substantially remodel or demolish the rental unit must now provide the tenant with information about the remodel, the amount of time the remodel will take or the date when the unit will be demolished and a copy of the permits allowing for the remodel or demolition. Also, if the demolition or remodel does not happen, the landlord must offer the unit back to the tenant at the same rental rate and terms as the tenant had before the eviction.
- Landlords who violate these tenant protections can be liable to tenants in lawsuits for money damages, as well as punitive damages.
The New Owner and Relative Move-In Eviction Requirements
Under the new law, a landlord who seeks to evict a tenant so he or she can move into the rental unit must move into the unit within 90 days and must reside there continuously as his or her primary residence. This restriction also applies where a landlord evicts a tenant so the landlord’s relative can move into the rental unit. Additionally, the landlord may not evict a tenant for this purpose if the landlord or the landlord’s relative already resides in the property where the rental unit is located or if a similar unit at the property is already vacant.
The notice provided for an owner or relative move-in eviction must contain, beginning April 1, 2024, the names and relationship to the owner of any relatives who intend to occupy the unit. The notice must also include a notification that the tenant has a right to request proof that the landlord owns the property and proof of the relationship between the landlord and the relative who intends to occupy the rental unit.
If the landlord or the landlord’s relative fail to move into the unit within 90 days or fail to reside in the unit for at least 12 continuous months, the new law requires the landlord to offer the unit back to the evicted tenant at the same rental rate and under the same rental terms as the tenant had before the eviction. And, if the evicted tenant no longer wants to live in the unit, the landlord can only rent the unit to a new tenant at the same rental rate as the evicted tenant was paying.
The New Penalties
The new law also adds penalties for a landlord’s violation of the tenant protections. Beginning on April 1, 2024, when a landlord violates the requirements of the Tenant Protection Act, the tenant can sue the landlord in civil court for money damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees. If the landlord’s actions are willful, malicious, oppressive or fraudulent, the tenant can be awarded three times his or her money damages and the tenant can be awarded punitive damages against the landlord.