Tenant Assistance as Tenant Retention (Just Cause Eviction)


Tenant Assistance as Tenant Retention (Just Cause Eviction)

Tenant Assistance as Tenant Retention

The Long Beach City Council recently directed city staff to craft an ordinance that would force owners of properties with 4 units or more, to pay 2 month’s rent to a tenant.   The tenant is considered displaced through “no fault of their own” or if the landlord increases the rent 10% or more in any 12-month period.  This ordinance is a way to implement “no fault eviction” without calling it that.

Under current law, an owner only needs to give a tenant a 60-day notice to vacate. And does not have to provide any cause or payment to the tenant to have it vacated.  It’s the owner’s property, and they can do with it as they see fit.  The tenant is entitled to their security deposit at move out (less any damage caused by the tenant) and that is it.  With this ordinance, if the rent were $2,000 a month, the landlord would need to pay the tenant $4,000 as a relocation fee and return the security deposit.

How It Impacts Owners

For many owners, that will be too high a price and they will opt to live with the tenant.  But that tenant may be difficult, disruptive and not abiding by the terms of the contract.  It is (fairly) easy to remove a tenant who does not pay as agreed. But it is much harder to do the same with a tenant who does not behave as agreed.  This includes having more people staying in the property, additional pets, or simply not being a “good” tenant.  With this ordinance, now the owner will have to pay, and pay handsomely to find a better tenant. You can envision a situation where a tenant behaves poorly just to reap the rewards of this ordinance.  You don’t like me?  Pay me.

The Slippery Slope

I suspect this will not be the end of the attempt in Long Beach and the rest of California to make tenants a protected class.  Once buildings 4 units and more are under this ordinance, the tenants of single family homes, condominiums, townhomes and buildings of 3 units or less will want the same rights.  Why should tenants of multi-unit buildings only be protected?  The slippery slope of rent control, just cause eviction and legal assistance starts with this tenant assistance ordinance.