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Rent Control In California and 'Just Cause' Eviction

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs ("DCA"), some California cities have rent control ordinances, which prohibit rent increases. The following cities have rent controls in place:​

The DCA shares that “some of these ordinances specify procedures that a landlord must follow before increasing a tenant’s rent, or that make evicting a tenant more difficult for a landlord.” These cities have ordinances that permit a landlord to evict a tenant for ‘just cause,’ where the landlord has a valid or specific good reason. San Francisco has given examples of just causes as follows (as shared on

  1. Nonpayment of rent, habitual late payment, or frequent bounced checks.

  2. Breach (violation) of a term of the rental agreement that has not been corrected after written notice from the landlord.

  3. Nuisance or substantial damage to the unit (waste), or “creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment of the landlord or other tenants in the building.“

  4. Illegal use of the unit. This just cause may not be used to evict a tenant from an illegal residential unit.

  5. Termination of the rental agreement and the tenant refuses to execute a written extension for materially the same terms.

  6. The tenant has, after written notice to cease, refused the landlord access to the unit as required by law.

  7. Unapproved subtenant (approval can be either stated or implied) is the only person still remaining in the unit (subtenant holding over).

  8. Move-in of the landlord or a close relative of the landlord (if the landlord lives in the building). The tenant has a right to relocation payments.

  9. Sale of a unit which has been converted to a condo. Seniors and permanently disabled tenants cannot be evicted for condo conversions. Tenants have a right to a 1-year lease or 120 days with relocation payments.

  10. Demolition or removal of the unit from housing use. The tenant has a right to relocation payments.

  11. Capital improvements or rehabilitation with all the necessary permits that allows temporary removal of the unit from housing use. The tenant has the right to re-occupy the unit once the work is completed at the prior rent, adjusted by the Rent Board’s allowable rent increases such as the annual rent increase. The tenant has a right to relocation payments.

  12. “Substantial rehabilitation” of a building that is essentially uninhabitable with all the necessary permits. The tenant has a right to relocation payments.

  13. Ellis Act evictions which require withdrawal from rental housing use all of the units in the building or a unit detached from another structure on the same lot (e.g. a cottage). Tenants evicted for this cause have a right to a relocation payment.

  14. Lead abatement as required by the San Francisco Health Code with temporary removal of the unit from housing use for less than 30 days. The tenant has a right to a relocation payment.

  15. Demolition or to otherwise permanently remove the rental unit from housing use in accordance with the terms of a development agreement entered into by the City under Chapter 56 of the San Francisco Administrative Code.

  16. Good Samaritan Occupancy Status for the tenant expires, and the landlord serves an eviction notice within 60 days after expiration of the status. (The Good Samaritan Occupancy Status is when a tenant loses their home due to a disaster and the landlord rents another temporary unit to the tenant for low rent.)​

It is important to note that local laws are controlling where just cause eviction protections and rent controls are in place and each city varies in terms of just causes. Further, eviction is a legal process that may not be done verbally. Rather, it must be done with adequate written notice followed by a possible unlawful detainer action (court order).

Some cities, such as Los Angeles have boards that approve or deny rental increases. All rent control cities have a ‘vacancy decontrol’ which means that a landlord may re-rent a unit at the market rate when the tenant moves out or the lease is terminated for nonpayment of rent.

Dealing with an eviction claim can be a confusing and complex. There are several hyperlinks provided for the various cities, and additional information can be found here for San Francisco. However, it is beneficial to retain experienced and professional attorneys in order to maximize the effectiveness of your claim. Please call Aziz Legal by phone (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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