Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP Legal Alert
Chula Vista Enacts Just Cause Eviction Protections Effective March 1, 2023
February 10, 2023
On November 1, 2022, the Chula Vista City Council voted to approve and adopt Ordinance 3527 creating the Residential Tenant Protections codified in Chula Vista Municipal Code Chapter 9.65. These tenant protections will become effective on March 1, 2023. The just cause provisions are consistent with the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (known as TPA or AB 1482) but provide further limitations on just cause and provide for higher relocation assistance which makes the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance more protective than the TPA. This will mean that where Chula Vista’s Ordinance applies, it will control over the TPA.
The Ordinance does not create any limitations on the increases of rent, so the rent caps provided under AB 1482, the Tenant Protection Act law, will apply to properties in Chula Vista. Look to the permissible increases, and exemptions under the TPA as it applies to your property.
Properties exempt from the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance include:
A. Single family owner-occupied residence, including a mobile home. The owner must occupy the home and rent no more than two units or bedrooms. The owner occupies the residence when tenant moves in and must continue to occupy the property throughout the tenancy, including but not limited to, an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.
B. A duplex, where there are two dwelling units within a single structure. The owner must have occupied one unit at the inception of the tenancy and continue to occupy the unit throughout the tenancy. Neither of the units can be an accessory dwelling unit or a junior accessory dwelling unit.
C. Separately alienable units provided both apply:
1. Owner is not a:
a) Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT); or,
b) Corporation; or,
c) Limited liability company with a corporate member; or,
d) Management of mobile home park, and,
2. Tenants have been provided written notice that the residential unit is exempt from the Chula Vista Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance. The notice requires specific language provided in CVMC 9.65.040. For any tenancy commenced or renewed after the effective date of March 1, 2023, the notice must be contained in the rental agreement. For tenancies in place prior to the effective date, notice must be provided to tenants in writing, but is not required to be in the rental agreement. The notice should be added to the rental agreement as addendum when renewed.
a) Notice for this exemption requires the following language: “This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to Just Cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code and Chapter 9.65 of the Chula Vista Municipal Code. This property meets the requirements of sections 1947.12(d)(5) and 1946.2(e)(8) of the Civil Code and section 9.65.040(C) of the Chula Vista Municipal Code, and the Owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined in 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.”
D. Homeowners of mobile homes or nonowner tenants of mobile homes: They will continue to be protected under state law.
E. Transient occupancy (hotel/motel) under 30 days
F. Short term tenancies under 30 days
G. Housing in non-profit hospital, religious facility, extended care facility, licensed residential care facility for the elderly
H. Residential property or dormitories owned by the City, an institution of higher education, or a kindergarten and grades one to 12, inclusive
I. Housing where the tenant shares a bathroom or kitchen with the owner as their principal place of residence
J. Housing restricted by deed or regulatory agreement
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers will not be included in the affordable housing exemption and therefore would be protected under the Chula Vista Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance.
Notice to Tenants
Properties subject to the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance must provide notice to the tenants of their rights under the law. This notice must be provided to tenants prior to March 1, 2023. The size shall be no less than 12-point font, delivered directly as a notice or as an addendum to the lease agreement. For tenancies commenced or renewed after March 1, 2023, the notice shall be in the lease as an addendum, or a written notice signed by the tenant. This notice is also subject to the requirements of Civil Code Section 1632, which requires contracts negotiated in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, and Vietnamese and must have translations of the contract in those languages as well. For additional information on Civil Code Section 1632, please contact our office.
The required notice is as follows:
“California law limits the amount your rent can be increased. See Civil Code Section 1947.12 for more information. Local law also provides an Owner must provide a statement of cause in any notice to terminate a Tenancy. In some circumstances, Tenants who are elderly (62 years or older) or disabled may be entitled to additional Tenant protections. See Chula Vista Municipal Code chapter 9.65 for more information.”
Landlords covered under the Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance must have lawful just cause to terminate a tenancy. Just cause may be triggered by either tenant fault or “at-fault” reasons or by “no fault” reasons, which means a tenant has done noting to warrant termination.
At-fault Just Cause Reasons to Terminate
1. Default in payment of rent; and/or,
2. Breach of material term of the lease; and/or,
3. Nuisance; and/or,
4. Waste; and/or,
5. Failure to renew lease of similar terms and duration after a written request to execute; and/or, 6. Criminal activity; and/or,
7. Assignment or subletting in violation of the tenant’s lease; and/or,
8. Refusal to allow access; and/or,
9. Using the premises for unlawful purpose; and/or,
10. Employee failure to vacate after termination of employment; and/or,
11. Tenant failure to vacate after giving written notice to owner to vacate.
No-fault Just Cause Reasons to Terminate
1. Owner or family member occupancy move in
2. Compliance with government order
3. Withdrawal from rental market
4. Substantial remodel
Substantial remodel definition provides for more restrictive requirements than those of AB 1482. The requirements still include the requirements that structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical systems are being replaced or substantially modified or that a permit, or permits, are required for the abatement of hazardous materials. However, it requires that the unit must be vacant for 60 days instead of the 30 days required under the TPA. It also has a requirement that the cost of the improvement be at least $40 per square foot of the unit, which is not required under TPA.
The Chula Vista’s Tenants Protections Ordinance differentiates between eviction requirements necessary for At-fault Just Cause Evictions and No-fault Just Cause Evictions.
At-fault Just Cause Requirements:
As with the TPA, Chula Vista’s Tenants Protections Ordinance requires that any curable violation of a lease will require a landlord to provide notice of the violation and an opportunity to cure said violation(s). This is often called a “Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit” or a “Notice to Cure or Quit”. Only after the tenant has failed to cure the violations, may a landlord serve a final Three-Day Notice to Quit without an opportunity to cure.
There will also be additional requirements by landlords when terminating tenancies such as a reporting requirement whenever there is a termination notice. These requirements will be created through Administrative Regulations created by the City. These Regulations will be posted on the City website and will be effective 30 days after they have been published for review.
An At-fault Just Cause Eviction does not obligate a landlord to pay relocation benefits to the tenant or tenants.
No-fault Just Cause Requirements:
A tenant who receives a notice for a no-fault just cause reason shall be provided with 30 days’ notice for tenancies under one year or 60 days’ notice for any tenancy over one year. They shall also be provided a notice in no less than 12-point font, the basis for the termination, the right to relocation assistance or rent waiver, notice of right to receive a future offer to rent the unit. This notice of right to future offer requires a landlord to offer the unit to a tenant if it is offered for rent within two years of the date the tenancy as terminated.
In addition to the above, for a tenancy in a “Residential Rental Complex,” which means one or more buildings, located on a single lot, contiguous lots, or lots separated only by a street or alley, containing
three or more residential rental units rented or owned by the same owner, the following additional requirements, are included:
A. If a residential rental unit in a residential rental complex is offered for rent or lease for residential purposes within two (2) years of the date the tenancy was terminated, the owner shall first offer the unit for rent or lease to the tenant displaced from that unit by the No-fault Just Cause termination if the tenant: (a) advised the owner in writing within thirty (30) days of the termination notice of the tenant’s desire to consider an offer to renew the tenancy; and (b) furnished the owner with an address to which that offer is to be directed. The owner shall have the right to screen the tenant using industry accepted methods and shall communicate such minimum screening criteria in the offer for the new tenancy, subject to the terms of any attendant Administrative Regulations.
B. With regard to termination of a tenancy of a residential rental unit in a residential rental complex on the basis of a withdrawal of the unit from the rental market, as described in Section 9.65.060(C)(3), should the property that had been taken off the market be placed on the rental market again within two (2) years of the termination of the tenancy, then the owner shall be liable to tenant for the greater of: (i) six (6) month’s rent to the last tenant of the residential rental unit at the rental rate in place at the time the rental unit is re-rented as set forth U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Small Area Fair Ordinance Page 15 Market Rents Amount for the zip code in which the residential rental unit is located; or (ii) six (6) months of actual then in effect contract rent under the tenant’s lease at time of termination. This section does not apply if the property is rented to owner’s family member, converted to another non-rental use, or otherwise sold or transferred during the two (2) year period.
C. Among other remedies applicable to owner’s failure to comply with the terms of this chapter, an owner’s failure to strictly comply with this section shall render the notice of termination void.
Relocation Benefit Requirements
For a tenancy terminated by No-fault Just Cause reason, the following relocation benefits must be provided to the tenant:
Regardless of the length of tenancy or the income of the tenant, relocation assistance is required. It is the owner’s option to provide either: 1) a direct payment of the greater of two months of the HUD small area fair market value (FMV) rents for the zip code in which the unit is located or two months of the actual rent. If the tenant is elderly or disabled, then an additional month is added to the greater of each option resulting in three months relocation – or – 2) a written waiver of the amount in section 1.
Relocation is done by rent waiver and shall list the amount of rent waived and must also state that no further rent is due for the remainder of the tenancy. If there is an actual payment of funds, those funds must be paid within fifteen (15) calendar days of service to the tenant.
Where there are multiple tenants within a unit, the payment can be in a single payment amount to all tenants on the rental agreement. The relocation is in addition to any security deposit return owed to the tenants under civil code 1950.5. Unlike AB 1482, this relocation is in addition to and will not be credited to any other relocation amounts owed under state law. Like AB 1482, should a tenant fail to vacate after the expiration of the notice, the relocation amounts will be recoverable in any action to recover possession of the property.
Notice to the City
For a Just Cause No-fault termination, a copy of the notice of termination must also be provided to the City of Chula Vista no later than three business days after the notice is provided to the tenant. The notice will be on a form provided by the City created through Administrative Regulations. The City will acknowledge receipt of the notice within three business days of receipt. In a meeting with Chula Vista employees, it was stated that it is their intent that this form will be ready prior to the implementation date of the ordinance.
Owner’s failure to comply with the termination and relocation will render the termination notice invalid. Additionally, if the termination was based on removal from the rental market and is later placed back on the market within two years of date of removal, then the landlord will be liable to the tenant for the greater of (a) six months of rent for the then rental FMV for zip code in which the unit is located or (b) six months of the actual rent of the tenant when the lease was terminated.
Harassment and retaliation are prohibited under the Ordinance, which is defined as actions taken against a tenant with the intent to vex, annoy, harass, coerce, defraud, provoke or injure. The ordinance provides a list of actions that could be considered harassment, if done in bad faith:
1. Interrupting, terminate, or fail to provide housing services
2. Fail to maintain the property
3. Fail to diligently comment and complete repairs
4. Abuse of the lawful right to enter
5. Abuse the tenant with words offensive and likely to provoke action
6. Influence or intimidate a tenant to vacate the unit
7. Threaten the tenant
8. Discrimination based upon race, gender, sexual preference, sexual orientation, ethnic background, nationality, religion, age, parenthood, marriage, pregnancy, disability, AIDS, occupancy by a minor child, or any other protected classification
9. Take action to terminate the tenancy where a landlord has no reasonable cause 10. Interfere with tenant’s right of quiet enjoyment
11. Refusal to accept or acknowledge receipt a lawful payment of rent
12. Interfere with tenant’s right of privacy, which includes photographs beyond lawful entry or inspection.
Enforcement and Remedies
The Residential Tenant Protection Ordinance stresses the need for landlords and tenants to work informally with each other to resolves their issues with respect. It also mentions the voluntary basis for alternate dispute resolution and mediation options. The City also states that it has the ability and discretion on when it will intervene and enforce provisions of the code. Also, any waiver of rights under the code are unenforceable as contrary to public policy. For each and every day there is non compliance with the code, that will be a separate actionable offense.
Possible City Actions
The City has created several avenues of enforcement actions which may be cumulative and would not preclude the rights of tenants from exercising their rights below or any additional rights under state or federal law. The City will also have subpoena power for the production of documents and any other relevant items to the investigation and enforcement of the code. The City will have the right to use the following enforcement measures:
1. Alternative remedies – participation in education programs, mediation, or other alternate dispute resolution
2. Administrative citations and penalties – penalties may include up to $5,000 per violation per day. Notice or warnings are not required prior to issuing a citation.
3. Civil action – The City may file an action on behalf of the people of the State of California for violations and enact civil penalties of not more than $5,000 per violation per day.
4. Criminal action – certain actions may constitute a criminal misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment of not more than six months
Private Right of Action
Tenants who believe that their rights have been violated may raise it as an affirmative defense in any unlawful detainer or civil action. They will also have a private right of civil action against the landlord for injunctive relief, direct money damages, and any other relief allowed by law including penalties of not less than $2,000 and no more than $5,000 per day. This amount may be increased at the court’s
discretion for up to an addition $5,000, per violation per day, if the tenant is elderly or disabled. The code provides for reasonable attorney’s fees where a tenant prevails in their action.
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP has created two notices of the rights to tenants under the Chula Vista Ordinance that you can use to serve on your tenants where applicable. One is a notice to tenants that the property is subject to the article and is linked here and the other is the notice of exemption due to the separately alienable exemption as mentioned above and linked here. These notice of rights are intended only to be used as compliance for those tenancies that existed prior to March 1, 2023 and are required to be served prior to March 1, 2023. For any tenancy renewed or commenced after March 1, 2023, you are required to have the notice to tenants in either an addendum to the lease or in a notice signed by the tenant, which would not be these two forms.
For additional information or assistance, contact our San Diego office at (800) 338-6039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. While KTS provides clients with information on legislative changes, our courtesy notifications are not meant to be exhaustive and do not take the place of legislative services or membership in trade associations. Our legal alerts are provided on selected topics and should not be relied upon as a complete report of all new changes of local, state, and federal laws affecting property owners and managers. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. For contact information, please visit our website: www.kts-law.com. For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers and Legal Articles, please consult the resource section of our website.
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