Long Beach Just Cause Eviction Ordinance: Everything You Need to Know

The Long Beach City Council made a significant decision on February 18, 2020, when they voted in favor of adopting an emergency ordinance known as the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance. This ordinance took immediate effect upon its adoption. By implementing “just cause” requirements, the council aimed to eliminate the landlord’s ability to terminate a month-to-month tenancy without providing a specific reason, as permitted by state law. Additionally, the ordinance prohibited landlords from terminating a tenancy solely based on the expiration of a lease, unless there was a valid “just cause” present. While the City’s original ordinance mirrored the state’s just cause eviction law, referred to as AB 1482, it introduced stricter procedures that landlords had to adhere to when utilizing the substantial remodel just cause basis for eviction.

The City Council made important changes to its just cause eviction ordinance on February 15, 2022. These amendments introduced additional regulations specifically related to substantial remodel procedures. The amended ordinance is set to come into effect on March 25, 2022. This Industry Insight aims to examine the differences between the City’s regulations concerning substantial remodel procedures and the corresponding state law, both under the original ordinance and the amended version.

The purpose of this blog post is to provide landlords with an overview of the obligations imposed by the Long Beach ordinance, enabling them to gain a general understanding of the requirements. It is strongly advised that landlords consult with an attorney when seeking to terminate a tenancy on substantial remodel grounds. This step ensures that the planned renovation work aligns with the legal definition and guarantees compliance with the necessary procedures dictated by state and local laws.

Important Note

This article focuses solely on the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance in the City of Long Beach. It is important to be aware that there may be other laws that impact your ability to terminate a tenancy within Long Beach. Particularly, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has exercised emergency powers over all 88 cities within its jurisdiction. The recent extension of their moratorium prohibits substantial remodel work until March 31, 2023.

How does the Long Beach Ordinance compare to AB 1482?

The City’s ordinance aligns closely with the just cause provisions outlined in AB 1482, a state law that regulates rent increases and imposes just cause requirements on residential rental properties across California. However, this article will specifically address the variations between the Long Beach ordinance and AB 1482.

Who does the Long Beach Just Cause Eviction Ordinance Apply to?

With the exception of the discussed exemptions, the City of Long Beach mandates that all rental units adhere to the provisions outlined in the City’s just cause ordinance.

1. Hotels/Motels: This exemption includes transient and tourist hotel occupancy as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1940 of the Civil Code.

2. Hospitals/Care Facilities: Housing accommodations in nonprofit hospitals, religious facilities, extended care facilities, licensed residential care facilities for the elderly (as defined in Section 1569.2 of the Health and Safety Code), or adult residential facilities (as defined in Chapter 6 of Division 6 of Title 22 of the Manual of Policies and Procedures published by the State Department of Social Services) are exempt.

3. Affordable Housing: This exemption covers housing that is restricted by deed, regulatory restrictions in agreements with government agencies, or other recorded documents, ensuring it is designated as affordable housing for individuals and families with very low, low, or moderate income (as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code). It also applies to housing subject to agreements providing housing subsidies for affordable housing for individuals and families with very low, low, or moderate income (as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code) or comparable federal statutes.

4. New Construction: Housing units that have received a certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years are exempt. However, this exemption operates on a rolling basis, meaning that once 15 years have passed since the issuance of the certificate of occupancy, the exemption no longer applies (unless the unit qualifies for another exemption).

5. Separately Alienable Unit: This exemption encompasses housing units that can be sold or transferred separately from the title to any other dwelling unit (e.g., single-family homes and condominiums). However, there are certain conditions for this exemption, including the owner not being a real estate investment trust as defined in Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code, a corporation, or a limited liability corporation in which at least one member is a corporation.

The landlord must also provide the tenant with a clear and explicit written notice indicating that the property is exempt from AB 1482. The notice should include the following statement:

“This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code. This property meets the requirements of Sections 1947.12 (d)(5) and 1946.2 (e)(8) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.”

6. Owner-Occupied Duplexes: This exemption encompasses duplexes where the owner resides in one of the units as their primary residence at the start of the tenancy, as long as the owner continues to occupy the unit. It is important to note that this exemption does not apply to existing tenancies if the owner moved into the duplex after the resident. However, the exemption would be applicable to new tenancies established thereafter.

7. Dormitories: This exemption covers dormitories owned and operated by institutions of higher education or kindergarten through grade 12 schools.

8. Owner-Occupied Single-Family Home: This exemption applies to single-family homes that are occupied by the owner as their principal residence. It includes residences where the owner, as the occupant, rents or leases no more than two units or bedrooms, such as an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.

9. Owner-Occupied Residence: This exemption encompasses housing accommodations where the resident shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner, who maintains their principal residence at the residential real property.

The exemptions listed above closely mirror the exemptions stated in AB 1482, with one exception. The “Owner-Occupied Duplex” exemption in the City’s ordinance (listed as number 6 above) utilizes the language from a previous version of the AB 1482 exemption. The AB 1482 exemption for owner-occupied duplexes was modified in 2021 and now states: “A property containing two separate dwelling units within a single structure in which the owner occupied one of the units as the owner’s principal place of residence at the beginning of the tenancy, so long as the owner continues in occupancy, and neither unit is an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.” This inconsistency appears to be an oversight on the part of the City Council. However, if landlords own and reside in their rental property, and the property comprises only two units, it is advisable to consult with an attorney regarding the application of the ordinance to their specific property, considering the discrepancy between the City’s ordinance and AB 1482.

Additional landlord requirements

The ordinance establishes various regulations governing the termination of a tenancy based on substantial remodel. These regulations will be discussed in detail below.

  • Permits should be obtained prior to serving notice of termination

    As per the City’s ordinance, landlords must first acquire all the required permits from relevant government agencies for the remodel work before issuing a notice to terminate a tenancy based on substantial remodel. It’s important to note that state law does not explicitly mandate landlords to obtain all necessary permits before issuing a termination notice for substantial remodel.
  • Starting from March 25, 2022, it is mandatory for landlords to furnish the City with a comprehensive list containing the names of all residents whose tenancies will be terminated in relation to the remodel work. This requirement is necessary for the City to process and issue the essential permit(s) for the remodel work. It’s important to note that obtaining the permit(s) from the City is a prerequisite before issuing a termination notice, as discussed earlier.
  • Starting March 25, 2022, the amended ordinance brings about an increase in the relocation payments that landlords are obligated to provide to residents when their tenancy is terminated due to substantial remodel grounds. Previously, the relocation payment for all no-fault eviction reasons, including substantial remodel, was equivalent to one month’s rent based on the resident’s rental rate at the time the termination notice was issued. This rule also aligns with the state law requirement.

    As per the amended ordinance, for terminations based on substantial remodel, the relocation payments have been raised to the higher amount of either (a) $4,500 or (b) two months’ worth of the resident’s rent that was applicable at the time the termination notice was issued.
  • Lastly, the amended ordinance introduces enhanced penalties in cases where a landlord is found to have violated the substantial remodel provisions. Notably, the amended ordinance grants residents a private right of action if they believe their landlord deliberately issued an invalid termination notice for substantial remodel. In the event that the resident successfully substantiates their claim, the court has the authority to award civil penalties of up to $15,000 as well as attorney’s fees.