Just Cause Eviction Ordinances based on faulty premises; hurt both tenants and landlords

The LA Housing Coalition released a letter on the inherent weaknesses and risks of Just Cause eviction laws. The drive to implement Just Cause ordinances is based on a wholly incorrect premise: that landlords are in the business of evicting tenants. This concept simply is not grounded in fact and does not withstand fuller scrutiny.

Any discussion of a proposed Just Cause ordinance must take these considerations into account:

  • Evictions are extremely costly for housing providers; both unit turnover costs as well as court and legal fees are very high.
  • Just Cause eviction forces property owners to either act on a cause immediately or waive their right to act on the cause in the future. This forces owners to issue eviction notices immediately as opposed to working with a tenant to improve a situation or to give them more time to pay rent.
  • Just Cause evictions require that tenants receive a 3-day notice to move instead of 30 or 60 days. It is almost impossible to find alternative housing and move in 3 days.
  • A 3-day notice will make it more likely that the tenant will have an unlawful detainer judgement against them, which will make it more difficult for the tenant to find housing in the future, as it is a negative mark on their rental history.
  • For cases that involve nuisance or criminal activity, witness cooperation is crucial for a successful eviction. Unfortunately, the witness’s name is required to be on the 3-day eviction notice and many tenants will not agree to be a witness for fear of retaliation. For legitimate reasons of safety, many witnesses will not come forward. If an owner cannot prove a case without witnesses, then the rest of the tenant community will suffer the consequences of the illegal or nuisance behavior, since the owner cannot simply issue a 30- or 60-day notice.
  • California already has some of the most aggressive tenant protections in the country, including eviction protections. Though a 30/60-day notice of termination may be served for any reason or no reason at all, it may not be served for a discriminatory (Civil Code section 51) or retaliatory (Civil Code 1942.5) reasons. Tenants can always bring an action for retaliation or discrimination, even without Just Cause.

Just Cause evictions, much proposed rent controls or rent stabilization, are a band-aid that ignores the underlying causes and workable solutions to our housing crisis. The only way to ensure affordability within the region is to build more housing.

Read the full letter from the LA Housing Coalition here: