San José Adopts New Tenant Protection Ordinance

Urgency measure takes effect immediately

SAN JOSE, Calif. – After over two years of public discussion, the San José City Council approved a Tenant Protection Ordinance last night (May 9) that takes effect immediately. The new “just cause” law requires landlords to state a specific cause when noticing tenants to vacate and outlines rights for tenants faced with notices to vacate.

“The Tenant Protection Ordinance will provide stability to San José residents who live in one of the most expensive housing markets in the Country,” said Jacky Morales-Ferrand, director of the San José Housing Department.

“We’re working with developers throughout the region to continue to build more affordable housing, but in the meantime this ordinance will provide stability to tenants who have made San José their home.”

The Tenant Protection Ordinance now applies to all apartments in San José that have three rental units or more on the same property, affecting more than 87,000 rental apartments.

“Having the Ordinance take effect immediately will reduce the potential harm to tenants that might otherwise occur from a month-long wait for a non urgency measure to take effect,” said Morales-Ferrand.

Under the ordinance, landlords can terminate tenancy only under one of the twelve causes as follows:

Just cause reasons based on tenant actions:
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 lawfully requested access to the apartment
7. Unapproved holdover subtenant

Just cause reasons based on landlord decision or consequence of action:
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

Other California cities that require just cause for eviction include San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica. Housing Department staff will work with tenant and landlord associations to educate residents on their rights and responsibilities over the coming year. The law will take effect immediately and will be enforced by the court system.

More information about the Tenant Protection Ordinance can be found in the staff memorandum to the City Council.

“We have seen high costs of rents and, significant hardship caused by displacement or the risk of eviction in recent years,” said Morales-Ferrand. “Nearly half of all rental households in our community pay over 30% of their income on housing, and one out of four pays more than half of their income on housing.”

In March 2017, the median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in San José was $2,244 per month ($28,928 per year). The rent burden caused by the high cost of rent in San José makes it extremely challenging for families to afford necessities such as food, clothing, and medical care.

About the San Jose Housing Department
The mission of the San José Housing Department is to strengthen and revitalize our community through housing and neighborhood investment. For more information, visit

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