On October 8, 2019, the governor of California signed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (TPA), which goes into effect January 1, 2020. The TPA is generally intended to apply to older multiple dwelling buildings and has a “rolling” 15-year provision; so that previously exempt buildings come under the TPA when they are more than 15 years old.

The most significant change in current landlord tenant law is that terminations of “covered” residential tenancies of over 12 months must now be for cause which must be stated in the notice of termination, generally after the tenant has first been given a notice and opportunity to cure the violation. If termination is for a no-fault just cause, such as withdrawal of the property from the rental market, the landlord must assist the tenant to relocate or pay the tenant up to one month’s rent, failing which the notice is void.

The second most significant change is that the TPA also imposes residential rent increase limitations of 5% plus CPI, up to a maximum of 10%, with a limit of two increases, every 12 months. This restriction is retroactive to March 15, 2019.

There are exemptions, or exceptions, to the TPA. One is where local ordinances are more protective of tenants than the TPA, in which case the local ordinances remain in effect and controlling.

There are also exemptions to application of the TPA for certain types of residential properties or specific circumstances. The principal exemption is for single family units (houses and condominiums) that are not owned by real estate investment trusts, corporations or limited liability companies that have a corporation as an owner member. To qualify as exempt starting January 1, 2020, the owner must opt-in by providing the tenant with a notice of this exemption. For all tenancies commencing on or after July 1, 2010 a notice of exemption or non-exemption must be included in the rental agreement.

The TPA is clearly intended to protect long term tenants (over 12 months) in multi-family developments from serious and arbitrary action and abuses by landlords, rapid and significant increases in rent, and evictions without cause. Newer construction is exempted for 15 years so that the economic incentive to increase housing stock is not lost.

For more information, contact the Law Office of William H. Holsinger at 650-340-7500 to schedule a consultation.

1Just cause is much the same as under current law: non-payment of rent, violation of a material term of the lease or rental agreement, the commission of a nuisance or waste on the property, criminal activity on the property, prohibited subletting or assignment, refusal to allow the owner lawful access onto the property, failure to vacate after giving notice, refusal to execute a new lease (after January 1, 2020) when the existing one expires by its terms and does not provide for continuation on a month-to-month or other basis.

(Caveat. This description of the Tenant Protection Act is intended to provide a general summary and overview of the new law and is not intended as legal advice for any individual or particular circumstance.)