San Jose Tenant Protection Ordinance

Landlord/Tenant Disputes by Ashlee D. Gonzales, Esq.

The rental market in San Jose, currently the most expensive in America according to the 13th annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey of 2017, has experienced a recent spike in activity leading up to the enactment of a City ordinance regarding rental restrictions. On May 9, 2017, the San Jose City Council passed and adopted Ordinance No. 29911, more commonly known as the Tenant Protection Ordinance (“TPO”). The TPO eliminates no-cause evictions for certain units and requires landlords to use just cause for their notices to vacate. The TPO provides for twelve just causes in total, concerning both landlord and tenant behavior. Outlined below are actions amounting to just cause, broken up into tenant and landlord behavior.

  • Tenant Actions Amounting to Just Cause
    • Nonpayment of Rent
    • Damage to the Rental Unit
    • Refusal to Agree to Similar or New Rental Agreement
    • Violation of Lease
      • Does not include subleasing to family members including: dependent child or foster child, spouse/domestic partner, parent, or sibling of Tenant, unless occupancy exceeds max number of tenants permissible for unit
    • Disorderly Behavior Disturbing the Peace
    • Refuse Access to Unit, Requested in Accordance in Law
  • Landlord Actions Amounting to Just Cause
    • Substantial Rehabilitation of the Unit
    • Removal of Apartments from the Rental Market Under the Ellis Act
    • Owner Move-In
    • City Code Enforcement Actions Requiring a Move-Out
    • Converting an Unpermitted Rental Unit for Permitted Use

Unbeknownst to many, the TPO does not cover all tenants in San Jose. However, the recent trend and homeless rate in San Jose certainly leads one to believe that it is only a matter of time before all rental units are covered by the TPO.  Currently, protection is only afforded to rent stabilized units, other multifamily dwellings with at least three units, units built without a permit, rental apartments with a condo map, and guesthouses. Duplexes, single family homes, condos, and second units are not covered, unless they are an unpermitted unit. To ascertain if your unit is rent stabilized; click here to see a map of rent-controlled properties in San Jose. Once the map is open, select “Multiple Housing Roster” from the drop down menu on the left and search for your address.

Prior to the enactment of the TPO, San Jose had more than 2,400 no-cause evictions dating back to 2010. This number only includes evictions that were self-reported to the City by landlords, amounting to nearly a 270% increase from previous years. If you are a resident of Santa Clara County, it is likely you have been affected by these evictions in one form or another. In a 2015 economic study by the Economic Roundtable, evictions were determined to be the leading cause of homelessness in Santa Clara County; costing the community nearly $520 million per year. Additionally, higher eviction rates have resulted in workers moving further and further away from work, causing more congestion on our already impacted roadways. It is reasonable to presume that the recent spike in evictions has been prompted by the rent control trend and introduction of the TPO by the City. Landlords all over San Jose emptied out their rental units, without cause, in an effort to snag a higher rent rate before the TPO came into effect.

It is important to know, both as a landlord and tenant, your rights concerning eviction. Keeping a watchful eye on incoming legislature and enacted laws in your area is essential to being able to adapt to the current trends and rental market. Missteps in the increasingly complicated eviction process are becoming more costly, and we recommend seeking legal advice before taking action.

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