“Just Cause” Eviction Protections Expansions in Palo Alto

Palo Alto’s recent City Council decision reflects a significant expansion and adjustment in tenant protection regulations, notably concerning the “just cause” for eviction rules. The modifications demonstrate a commitment to bolstering tenant rights and ensuring more immediate safeguards for renters, as outlined below:

"Just Cause" Eviction Protections Expansions in Palo Alto"
  1. Accelerated Just Cause Protections:
    The City Council has enacted an accelerated phase-in period for just-cause protections, allowing tenants to benefit from these regulations after just six months of tenancy. This is a departure from the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482), which traditionally required a 12-month tenancy before eviction protections took effect. Just-cause eviction laws outline the legal reasons for which a landlord can evict a tenant, typically related to issues such as nonpayment of rent or lease violations.
  2. Expansion of Just Cause Rules to New Housing:
    Previously, AB 1482’s just-cause rules only applied to housing after it turned 15 years old. The Palo Alto City Council has broadened this scope, extending just-cause protections to new housing as well. This expansion reinforces tenant rights from the outset, regardless of the age of the housing unit.
  3. Security Deposit Cap:
    In addition to just-cause protections, the City Council has imposed a cap on security deposits. Landlords are now restricted to charging a maximum of 1.5 times the rent for security deposits. This measure aims to alleviate the financial burden on tenants and ensure more reasonable and predictable upfront costs when securing rental accommodations.
  4. Relocation Payments Threshold Adjustment:
    The council has also lowered the threshold for relocation payments. Previously applicable to properties with 50 units or more, this regulation now applies to properties with 10 units or more. This adjustment recognizes that tenants in smaller properties may face similar challenges during relocation and seeks to provide them with adequate support.

These changes collectively position Palo Alto as a jurisdiction with robust tenant protection measures, going beyond the statewide standards set by AB 1482. By accelerating just-cause protections, expanding their application to new housing, capping security deposits, and adjusting relocation payment thresholds, the City Council aims to strike a balance between safeguarding tenant rights and maintaining a fair and stable rental market. These developments may also influence discussions on tenant protections at the state level, showcasing Palo Alto as a progressive example in this policy domain.