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  • Writer's pictureErin Riswold

Eviction and Rent Control in California

When do I need “just cause” to evict a tenant under the new California rent control laws?

AB-1482, or the “Tenant Protection Act of 2019” changed the way California landlords are allowed to terminate the tenancy of their renters. Under certain circumstances, landlords are now required to have “just cause” to evict a tenant from a rental property. However, many specific conditions have to be met for the law to apply, and many small-time landlords are exempt from this law.

First, when does the “just cause” requirement apply?

To qualify for the protection, as a starting point, is relatively simple and can be accomplished in one of two ways. First, if all the tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the home for a year or more, they are afforded the protections of AB-1482. Alternatively, if one of the tenants has resided continuously and lawfully at the home for two years or more, everyone living there gains the protections of AB-1482.

Next, what does it mean to have “just cause”?

Just cause is broken into two categories under AB-1482. The first is defined as “at-fault just cause” which means the tenant created the grounds for eviction. While not a complete list, this includes failure to pay rent, breaching the lease, and committing criminal activity on the premises. For a complete list of at-fault just causes, see California Civil Code 1946.2(b)(1).

The other category is “no-fault just cause,” meaning the tenant was not at fault, but the landlord is still allowed to terminate the tenancy. Some examples of no-fault just cause include the landlord’s intent to occupy the property, withdrawal of the property from the rental market, and an intent to demolish or substantially remodel the property. For a complete list of no-fault just causes, see California Civil Code 1946.2(b)(2).

Overall, the “just cause” requirements are relatively common sense when you think about the purpose of the law: so that landlord’s cannot willy-nilly terminate a tenancy just because they feel like it.

Lastly, are you, as a landlord, exempt from the “just cause” requirement to terminate a tenancy?

Most small-time landlords are going to be exempt from the just cause requirement of AB-1482, meaning that he or she is able to terminate a tenancy for no reason at all, as long as it is not an improper reason, such as unlawful discrimination.

Although a handful of other circumstances exist that are also exempt from the just cause requirement, here is a list of the most common exemptions:

1. Single-family owner-occupied residences, which includes the renting of an accessory dwelling unit (a.k.a. Granny unit).

2. A duplex in which the owner occupies one of the units.

3. Residential real property that can be sold separate from any other dwelling unit (like a single-family home), as long as the owner is not a real estate investment trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company with a corporation as a member.

For a list of all the exemptions, see California Civil Code 1946.2(e)(1)-(8).

Even if a landlord is exempt from “just cause,” however, he or she is still bound by the laws of contract and the landlord-tenant laws of notice. For example, landlords of single family homes still cannot terminate a term lease before it has ended, nor can they evict a month-to-month tenant with less than 60 days notice, if that tenant has been living at the property for over a year.


The information in this blog is intended only as general information, and under no circumstances constitutes legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific legal advice concerning your particular situation.

For advice specific to your situation, contact us to schedule an appointment.

About the Koons & Riswold Auburn Law Office

Koons & Riswold maintains its main office in Auburn, California to provide clients with legal services to clients in Auburn, as well as the greater Placer County region. Our Auburn lawyers provide legal services well suited to the Auburn area, which include: Living Trust and Estate Planning services, Probate, Real Estate legal issues, and business law matters. All our lawyers have deep roots in the Auburn area, having strong familial, community, and professional ties to the region. Koons & Riswold has recently opened a satellite office in Rocklin, California for the purpose of providing Living Trust and Estate Planning services there.

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