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The City of San Diego has implemented “just cause” evictions as part of their rent control laws. In order to evict a tenant from a rental unit, a landlord must have a just cause reason to remove the tenant.

There are 15 just cause reasons for eviction under Ordinance Section 37.9(a). The most common are:

  • Non-payment of rent or habitual late payment of rent;
  • Breach of a rental agreement or lease;
  • Owner-occupancy or occupancy by a member of the landlord’s immediate family;
  • To perform capital improvements which will make the unit temporarily uninhabitable while the work is being done;
  • To perform substantial rehabilitation of a building that is at least 50 years old, provided that the cost of the proposed work is at least 75% of the cost of new construction;
  • To withdraw the rental units from the rental market under the Ellis Act;
  • Creation of a nuisance or substantial interference with the landlord or other tenants in the building; and
  • To demolish or permanently remove a rental unit from housing use.

In other words, just cause evictions are intended to keep tenants in place against at-will removals from their rented units. Thus preventing landlords from removing tenants for biased reasons.


What Are Considered “Just Causes”

These are the six instances when a landlord can work around the “just cause” rules and have grounds to evict a tenant in the San Diego rental market:


The Tenant Violates The Lease Agreement

A violation of the lease agreement is justifiable for a lease termination. The general rule of thumb is that anything included in the lease that follows rent control laws is protected by court. 

For landlords and tenants, they will have a clear understanding of what is allowed and not allowed in the tenancy.

The difficult thing is understanding the local rent control laws that might pertain to your home. Working with a property manager in San Diego with much experience leasing out properties is recommended.


The Landlord Plans To Occupy The Rental Unit

In San Diego, a landlord can also terminate a lease if the landlord, their spouse, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, child, grandchild, or a resident manager, plans to occupy the rental unit as their principal residence.


The Tenant Refuses to Renew Leasing Agreement With Same Terms

Once the lease agreement expires, the landlord can give the tenant an option to renew the lease with the same terms. If they refuse to renew the lease under the same provisions, it is allowed not to release the property to them. Same can be said when the terms have changed.

This is because the contract has essentially expired. If the tenant refuses to comply with a same or new contract, the landlord has no obligation to rent to them.

6 Exceptions to Just Cause Eviction


The Tenant Refuses Entry to Landlord After Proper Request

Maintenance and standard health and safety checks are common for landlords. When a tenant has refused entry to the property after receiving the proper notice, this is grounds for an eviction. This request must be related to making repairs, a habitability inspection, or any other type of routine inspection listed in the lease agreement.


Ellis Act Evictions

A landlord can evict their current tenants by choosing to remove their property from the rental market. This is called the Ellis Act eviction. Property owners who choose this method will be forbidden from releasing their unit for a certain number of years, depending on the zone and city laws. Landlords must give tenants a 120-day notice of eviction and a 12-month notice if the tenant is a senior citizen.

Ellis Act evictions are not the most ethical option as they tend to result in negative press for the property owner.


Conversion of Apartment Units Into Condominiums

A landlord has justification for an eviction if they have started to convert their apartment units into condominiums. Property owners would need to provide evidence that the conversion process has taken place through an application or receipt of required permits with the city.

Landlords can also evict a tenant if they plan on remodeling their unit substantially. The landlord needs to provide proof of progress such as  permits from the City of San Diego.

If you’re interested in evicting your current tenants, we recommend you ask yourself, is it entirely necessary to displace a family? Are you evicting them to improve the property, or to only charge a higher rental rate? These are some questions that might save you from a lawsuit in the future.



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