The City of Los Angeles Creates Just Cause Tenant Eviction Protections that Apply to Most Rentals

 

In January 2023, the city of Los Angeles established substantial just-cause tenant eviction protections. These protections apply to most rental properties in the city of Los Angeles, including single family homes, condos, and new construction. The new tenant protections regulate evictions by only allowing a landlord to remove a tenant from a property for a set number of reasons, mandate that landlords pay the tenant to move when the eviction is due to a “no-fault” reason, and create more paperwork and bureaucracy/red tape when terminating tenancies. The LA city council has yet again decided to strip away more rights of property owners, which will almost certainly exacerbate the housing crisis and force small landlords to invest elsewhere. The law does not take effect until signed into law.

City of LA Just Cause Tenant Eviction Protections

“Just-cause” means a landlord will need to have a specific reason to evict a tenant in the city of LA. There are two types of “just-cause.” Just-cause can be either “at-fault” or “no-fault.” In basic terms, an at-fault eviction is a tenant eviction when the tenant is doing something that they should not be doing. A no-fault eviction is when the landlord wants the tenant to move out for some reason unrelated to the tenant. Specifically, the LA city council created a specific list of what qualifies for a just-cause tenant eviction in the city of Los Angeles. If a landlord cannot qualify an eviction to fit into one of the following at-fault or no-fault categories, the landlord will be unable to evict the tenant in the city of LA (unless an exemption applies).

At Fault, Just Cause Reasons for Eviction in the City of Los Angeles

At-fault reasons for evicting a tenant in the city of Los Angeles include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Violating a term of the rental agreement1
  • Causing a nuisance
  • Damaging the property
  • Using the property for an unlawful purpose
  • Failing to sign a new lease with similar provisions after written demand from the landlord
  • Refusing the landlord lawful access to the property
  • When the person in possession of the property at the end of the lease is someone not approved by the landlord

Landlord Tip: Always use written rental agreements. Never allow a tenant to move in under an oral agreement, especially when these just-cause rules apply. Make sure the written rental agreement is very detailed and specific. If a tenant does something that can be used as an at-fault reason for eviction, document the problem clearly and take action immediately. This will help minimize the chances of having to pay the tenant relocation money.

1. A landlord cannot evict due to a tenant refusing to abide by a change in terms of the tenancy unless the tenant has agreed to the change. Furthermore, a landlord is restricted from evicting a tenant in the city of LA due to the addition of minor children or one adult; however, the landlord has the right to approve of an additional adult.

* This is a non-exhaustive list. For a full list of at-fault reasons for eviction in the city of Los Angeles, refer to the ordinance.

No Fault, Just Cause Reasons for Evicting in the City of Los Angeles

No-fault reasons for evicting a tenant in the city of Los Angeles include:

  • When the owner/relative needs to move into the property
  • To demolish or substantially remodel the property
  • To permanently remove the rental from the rental housing market
  • Due to a government order

* This is a non-exhaustive list. For a full list of no-fault reasons for eviction in the city of Los Angeles, refer to the ordinance.

Landlords Must Pay Relocation Money to Tenants for No Fault Evictions

When a landlord is evicting a tenant for an allowable “no-fault” reason in the city of Los Angeles, the landlord must pay the tenant to move. The amount of money that a landlord will have to pay the tenant in the city of LA will depend on several factors that is beyond the scope of this article, but it can exceed $20,000 in some types of cases. The amount of relocation assistance may be substantially reduced if the rental is a single family home owned by an individual and “mom and pop” rules apply. In most cases, the landlord will also need to pay fees to the city for no-fault evictions. The relocation money will need to be paid within 15 days of serving the tenant with a notice of termination. The payment can be made directly to the tenant or through an escrow account.

Landlord Tip: While it may cost a little bit more, use an escrow company rather than providing a direct payment to the tenant, especially if the amount of the relocation money is substantial.

If the tenant owes past-due rent, a landlord may offset the accumulated rent against any relocation assistance due to the tenant, unless the reason for the eviction is due to a government order.

Notice Requirements when Serving a Tenant with a Notice to Terminate Tenancy

The new notice requirements is going to get tricky and likely result in many problems for landlords in the city of LA. There are different notice requirements depending on the just-cause reason for the eviction. In all cases, the landlord will need to include on the notice of termination of tenancy the allowable reason for the termination, whether it be an at-fault reason or a no-fault reason.

For example, when the eviction is due to an at-fault just-cause reason, the termination notice must set forth specific facts to permit a determination of the date, place, witnesses and circumstances surrounding the eviction reason. When the eviction is due to a no-fault just-cause reason, the landlord may need to submit to the city a specific form that relates to the reason for the eviction. In other words, a landlord will use one city form when evicting a tenant due to owner/family member moving in, and a different city form when evening a tenant due to a government order, etc. These city-mandated forms are in addition to the notice of termination of tenancy, which must also be served on the tenant. A copy of the city form and the notice of termination of tenancy will need to be provided to the city and to the tenant. To be clear, a copy of any notice of termination of tenancy needs to be served on the tenant in a way authorized by law, and it will also need to be filed with the city within three business days of service on the tenant.

For any new tenancies, a landlord in the city of LA that rents properties subject to this new law must provide the tenant with a notice of the protections in writing. The landlord must also post a notification in a form prescribed by the city in an accessible common area of the property.

Exemptions to Just Cause Tenant Eviction Protections in the City of Los Angeles

Unfortunately, the LA city council did not create many exemptions to these egregious just cause tenant eviction protections in the city of Los Angeles. Here are some exemptions:

  • Just cause eviction protections in the city of LA do not apply until 1) the expiration of an initial lease, or 2) after six months (whichever comes first).
  • Properties that fall under LA’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).
  • Properties where the tenant shares bathroom or kitchen facilities with the owner who maintains their principal residence at the same property.

Landlord Tip: When first creating a tenancy, do not establish a one-year lease. Rather, when you first agree to allow a tenant to move into your rental property, create either a month-to-month tenancy or a tenancy of less than six months. Use this initial period as a “trial” period. If you need to evict a tenant without cause, do so before just-cause tenant protections begin to apply.

* This is a non-exhaustive list. Refer to the ordinance for a full list.

Remedies

If a landlord violates the just-cause tenant eviction protections in the city of Los Angeles, the tenant can use this violation as an affirmative defense to an eviction. The landlord will also be liable in a civil action to the tenant. Violations shall be a misdemeanor.

LA City Permanent Tenant Protections Video

City of Los Angeles Just Cause Tenant Eviction Protections

Additional Information

* It is important for landlords to understand what jurisdiction the rental property is located in, and whether or not there are any special tenant protections or rent control applicable to the property. This article does not discuss RSO rules which can be and are significantly different from non-RSO laws.

Disclaimer

The information in this article and blog are not meant to be legal advice and is intended for educational purposes only. The laws change frequently and this article may not be updated to reflect current rules. Do not rely on this article when making legal decisions. Consult with legal counsel regarding your particular case before taking any action.

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