San Diego’s New Just Cause Law

The Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance to Prevent Displacement and Homelessness, which came into effect on Saturday, June 24, represents a significant shift in tenant rights and protections. This new ordinance replaces the previously implemented “Tenants Right to Know Ordinance” that had been in effect since 2004. The following is an overview of the substantial changes introduced by this updated ordinance.

San Diego’s New Just Cause Law

Important Changes in the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance

One notable distinction of the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance is its immediate protection against no-cause evictions for most tenancies, with the exception of fixed-term leases lasting three months or less. This provision marks a significant departure from the previous law, which only provided eviction protections after two years of tenancy. By extending no-cause eviction protections from the very beginning of the tenancy, the new ordinance offers tenants greater security and stability in their housing arrangements.

No-cause evictions refer to situations where landlords terminate a tenancy without providing a specific reason. These evictions can leave tenants vulnerable to displacement and often contribute to housing instability and homelessness. The new ordinance recognizes the detrimental impact of such evictions and aims to prevent them, ensuring that tenants are not subject to unjust removal from their homes without a valid cause.

Tenant Buying Offers

Another important aspect of the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance is its stringent regulations on tenant buyout offers and agreements. Tenant buyouts occur when landlords offer monetary compensation or other incentives to tenants in exchange for them voluntarily vacating the rental property. While these agreements can be mutually beneficial in certain circumstances, they can also be used to exploit tenants who may be facing financial difficulties or other pressures.

The new ordinance aims to protect tenants from unfair or coercive buyout practices by imposing regulations on these agreements. By setting clear guidelines and requirements for tenant buyout offers, the ordinance seeks to ensure that tenants are fully informed, have adequate time to consider the offer, and are not subjected to undue pressure or exploitation. These regulations aim to strike a balance between allowing tenants the option to negotiate buyouts if it benefits them while safeguarding against abusive practices.


Housing remains temporarily excluded from the city’s just cause law until it reaches 15 years of age. Certain types of housing, such as single-family homes and non-corporately owned condos, are also exempt from the regulations. However, landlords must inform tenants about these exemptions and utilize the specific wording outlined in the ordinance to qualify for the exemption. Compliance with the notification requirement is crucial because the exemption only applies if the proper notice is provided, as emphasized by Homewood during the presentation. Landowners are also obligated to notify tenants about the protections granted to them in covered units. Additionally, the ordinance mandates that landlords provide tenants with the Tenant Protection Guide, a publication issued by the city. Similar to other just cause ordinances, San Diego’s new law permits both “at fault” and “no fault” evictions.

AB 1482, enacted in 2019, is California’s statewide legislation that establishes just cause for eviction rules in areas where local ordinances do not apply. Currently, San Diego is among the 30-plus jurisdictions in California that have implemented their own just cause ordinances.

In line with the San Diego law, certain no-fault tenancy terminations are permitted for specific reasons, including owner move-ins, compliance with government orders, and substantial remodeling projects. However, Prout advised landlords to seek guidance from a knowledgeable landlord attorney before pursuing evictions based on significant remodeling.

Please note that laws and regulations may be subject to change, and it is always advisable to consult with legal professionals or relevant authorities for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Relocation Assistance

Apart from establishing guidelines for permissible evictions, the just cause law also mandates that landlords provide relocation assistance to tenants who are evicted for “no fault” reasons. The specific amount of assistance varies depending on the tenant’s age and disability status.

Under the provisions of the law, senior tenants aged 62 years or older or those with a disability, as broadly defined by the statute, are entitled to receive three months’ worth of rent based on the rental rate in effect when the termination notice was served. This relocation assistance is intended to help seniors and disabled individuals navigate the challenges of finding alternative housing and ease the financial burden associated with relocation.

For all other tenants who do not fall into the senior or disability category, the law guarantees a relocation assistance amount equivalent to two months’ rent. This provision recognizes the potential hardships and expenses tenants may encounter when forced to vacate their current residence due to no fault of their own.

The intention behind these relocation assistance requirements is to mitigate the potential negative impacts of “no fault” evictions on tenants, particularly those who may be more vulnerable due to age or disability. By providing financial support, the law aims to assist tenants in securing new housing and transitioning to their new living arrangements more smoothly.

It is important to note that the specific amounts and criteria for relocation assistance may vary in different jurisdictions or based on updates to the legislation. Therefore, it is advisable for landlords and tenants to refer to the relevant local laws, regulations, or legal professionals to ensure compliance and accurate information regarding relocation assistance entitlements.