San Jose City Council Votes to Implement Just Cause Evictions

May, 2017

What does this mean?

On May 9, 2017, the San Jose City Council approved the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) to stop no-cause evictions in San Jose, effective immediately.

What is the purpose?

The purpose of the TPO is to enable the tenants in San Jose to petition to the city to exercise their grievances and rights under the law without fear of retaliation. The San Jose City Council voted last month to require “just cause” to evict a tenant. Since then, several tenants received no-cause eviction notices after the City Council approved the policy on April 18th. To prevent landlords from evicting tenants before the protections go into place in June, the City Council passed an immediate enactment of the measure requiring “just cause” in order to evict. TPO applies to over 87,000 rental apartments in San Jose.

What properties are subject to the Tenant Protection Ordinance?

The TPO applies to:

1.   Rent stabilized units;
2.  Rental units in any multiple-unit dwellings;
3.  Guest rooms in any guesthouse;
4.  Unpermitted units.

What constitutes Cause?

If a landlord can show any of the following circumstance with respect to a termination of tenancy, the termination will qualify as a “Just Cause Termination”:

1.  Nonpayment of rent
2. Material or habitual violation of the lease
3. Substantial damage to the apartment
4. Refusal to agree to a like or new rental agreement
5. Nuisance behavior
6. Refusing access to the apartment, requested in accordance with law
7. Unapproved holdover subtenant
8. Substantial rehabilitation of the apartment
9. Ellis Act removal or demolition
10. Owner move-in
11. Order to vacate
12. Vacation of unpermitted apartment

How do you evict a tenant for Cause?

For properties subject to just cause, the notice served on the tenant to terminate the tenancy must state the reason (the cause) for terminating the tenancy.  The landlord must mail or deliver a copy of any Notice of Termination to the City within three days of service to the tenant. The landlord must also mail or deliver a copy of the Summons and Complaint served to the tenant for an Unlawful Detainer within three days of service to the tenant.

If I evict a tenant for Cause do I have to pay relocation fees?

Tenants must be provided relocation assistance (equal to the Base Assistance provided for in the Ellis Act Ordinance) if they receive a Notice to Terminate based on:

1. Substantial rehabilitation of the apartment;
2. Owner move-in;
3. Ellis Act removal or demolition;
4. Order to vacate; or
5. Vacation of unpermitted apartment.

*A tenant served with a Notice to Terminate based on substantial rehabilitation of the apartment or an owner move-in, must be provided with the relocation fees at the same time the termination notice is served.

What if I don’t comply with the Tenant Protection Ordinance?

Non-compliance with the TPO is an affirmative defense for a tenant in an Unlawful Detainer action. Any landlord who fails to comply with any requirements of the TPO may be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500.00 fine for the first offense and up to a $1,000.00 fine for any subsequent offenses.

Have additional questions regarding the Tenant Protection Ordinance and how it affects you?

• A copy of the Tenant Protection Ordinance is available at:

• Contact an experienced landlord tenant attorney.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP has been representing owners and managers of residential and commercial properties for over 40 years. In addition to providing exemplary eviction and collection services, our firm offers a broad spectrum of services to the real estate community.  Feel free to contact Ninder Grewal, Esq. in our Northern California office with any questions at (800) 525-1690.

Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This alert is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office.  If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our website: For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers and Legal Articles, please consult the resource section of our website.

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