Landlords, Speak Out! Proposal to Require Just Cause Evictions across San Jose

San Jose landlords are facing an uphill battle in their attempt to block city councilors from adopting a “just cause” eviction policy. A groundswell of support from renters, tenant groups and housing advocates have the city council on the brink of mandating landlords have just cause before evicting anyone.

The proposal, co-authored by councilors Raul Peralez and Donald Rocha, would extend the protection to all tenants after six months of tenancy. Councilors Sylvia Arenas and Sergio Jiminez are urging their peers to take the regulation one step further by automatically extending protection against no-cause evictions without the six-month waiting period.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the policy as early as tomorrow afternoon.

Advocates say many tenants are pressured into living in unsafe conditions because they’re afraid to report necessary repairs for fear of landlord retaliation. Implementing a “just cause” eviction policy would prevent landlords from retaliating in this manner. But the California Apartment Association points out, “the way the ordinance is crafted, a tenant could file a frivolous claim for repair with the city and be shielded from eviction indefinitely.”

Bay Area landlords are being asked to rally against the proposal. Placing narrow conditions on how, when and why a landlord can evict someone shifts the burden of proof onto rental property owners, making it difficult (and costly) to evict problem tenants.

Worse, the policy, as written, would cover all San Jose rental units—not just those under the purview of rent control.

San Jose Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand proposed a middle-ground solution, which would allow tenants who file a complaint about property conditions to enroll in a program that protects them from retaliatory eviction. Tenants in rent controlled units would be given an additional layer of protection: landlords would have to offer anyone in the program a written, 12-month lease; tenants could not be evicted without just cause; and landlords would not be able to re-rent the unit to someone willing to pay more because they receive public housing assistance. Yet this middle-ground solution would necessitate five new jobs at city hall, costing San Jose taxpayers an estimated $1.1 million per year.

Instead of adopting a sensible policy like that proposed by Morales-Ferrand, it is likely the San Jose council will institute an easier-to-enforce blanket “just cause” eviction policy to the detriment to San Jose landlords. The concerns over Bay Area’s housing affordability crisis are real, but this is not the solution.

“San Jose councilmembers already made significant changes to the city’s rent control ordinance last year, including reducing the maximum annual rent increase for rent controlled units from 8% to 5%,” says Mynd co-founder Colin Wiel. “Instituting a citywide ‘just cause’ eviction policy will be another cumbersome regulation that deters landlords from investing in San Jose’s housing stock. That’s the last thing we need as housing costs continue to skyrocket. We need business-friendly policies that will encourage people to invest in new housing. The best way to address housing affordability is by building more housing—not by further restricting the housing that already exists.”

We join the California Apartment Association in asking all Bay Area landlords, rental property owners, property management companies and others in speaking out against this policy before it goes before the city council tomorrow afternoon. Please call your local councilmember or, better yet, attend the city council meeting to speak out publicly. Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be held in the Council Chambers, 200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose.

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