Just Cause Eviction Ordinance in San Diego – 2004

The City of San Diego Seems to have confused the terms “Notice to vacate” with “Eviction”.   An eviction is correctly known as a removal from the property via the legal system ie  the Courts.  A notice to vacate is a request to vacate and is done by providing a notice in which the tenant must comply and does so voluntarily.    At this time I will not quibble further with this egregious error and dive into semantics, but take this opportunity to reiterate the law as all property owners need to be aware of its existence.

On March 30, 2004, the San Diego City Council voted in favor of adopting a “Just Cause” Eviction Ordinance. The ordinance takes effect on April 29, 2004 and will impact all terminations initiated on or after that date.


How the Ordinance Works

This ordinance applies ONLY to tenants who have lived in a rental unit for more than two years. The ordinance is retroactive, meaning owners must provide a specific “cause,” as allowed by the ordinance, when terminating tenancies of those residents who have lived in their unit since April of 2002. Under the Ordinance any landlord who attempts to terminate a tenancy shall provide the resident a written notice to quit or terminate which recites the specific grounds as provided by Section 98.0730 of the Ordinance.

The requirements of this ordinance do not apply to agency owned or government subsidized units such as “Section 8” tenancies.


The “Causes”

Under the new Ordinance, a rental owner or manager must be able to provide that one of the following ten “just cause” reasons as defined by the Ordinance exists before a tenant will be required to vacate the premises.

  1. Nonpayment of Rent. Rental owners and managers can serve a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit in the event of the tenant’s non-payment of rent.
  2. Violation of Obligation of Tenancy. The tenant has voilated a lawful and material provision of the rental agreement. Rental owners and managers can serve a Three Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit in the event the tenant is committing a material breach of the rental agreement.
  3. Nuisance. The tenant is committing, or permitting a nuisance on the rental premises, or is causing damage to the rental unit or to the common areas of the housing complex, or is creating unreasonable interference with the safety and/or enjoyment of any of the other residents of the housing complex.
  4. Illegal Use. The tenant is using or permitting the rental unit to be used for an illegal purpose.
  5. Refusal to Renew Lease. The tenant refuses to execute a written extension of a lease after written request by the rental owner. The written request by the owner or manager must be made within the time frames required under the lease or state law and must offer the tenant a new lease which is similar to the old lease in its duration and its provisions.
  6. Refusal to Provide Access. The tenant has refused to give the rental owner reasonable access to the rental unit for the purpose of making repairs or improvements, or for the purpose of inspection as permitted or required by the lease or the law, or by the purpose of showing the rental unit to any prospective purchaser or mortgagee. A Three Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit may be served by the owner to require the tenant to supply the owner with reasonable dates and times for entry.
  7. Owner or Relative Occupancy. The landlord, including his/her spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child, grandchild (by blood or adoption), or a resident manager plans to occupy the unit as their principle residence. (This “cause “ was inadvertently left out of the initial ordinance; the city attorney has indicated that this provision will be added.)
  8. Correction of Violations. The rental owner or manager, after having obtained all necessary permits from the City of San Diego, seeks to recover possession of the rental unit for necessary repairs or construction. The rental property owner or manager must be prepared to prove that the removal of the tenant from the rental unit is reasonably necessary to accomplish the repair or construction work.
  9. Withdrawal of Residential Rental Structure from the Rental Market. If the rental owner or manager intends to withdraw all rental units, in all buildings or structures on a parcel of land, from the rental market, then the appropriate Notice to Quit may be served.


Serving the Notice

The notice served, whether it is a Three-Day, Thirty, or Sixty-Day Notice, must state the grounds noted above under which the rental owner is proceeding. In an unlawful detainer action, the tenant may raise as an affirmative defense any violation or noncompliance with the provisions of this Ordinance.

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