Just Cause for evictions

Community Development Agency
Just Cause Registry Drive

On December 18, 2018, the Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance (ordenanza / pháp lệnh) that establishes a Just Cause for eviction policy in unincorporated areas of Marin. The policy applies to properties with three or more units, and requires that tenants be given a reason for a lease termination. The ordinance went into effect on January 17, 2019.

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Registry and Notice of Termination

  • Registry

    Landlords are required to register their rental units by June 1, 2019.

    To register, property owners should gather the necessary documentation and complete the online registry form. We recommend that you gather the following documents and information before starting:

    • Business license number. Contact the Department of Finance for more information, and with questions.
    • Environmental Health Services housing inspection program license number. This is also sometimes called a permit or application number. Contact Eithne Bullick for more information, and with questions.
    • Lease agreements for the last two years.

    Please email or call Debbi La Rue at (415) 473-7309 with specific questions about the registry process.

    Notice of Termination

    Effective January 17, 2019, a landlord seeking to terminate a residential tenancy must submit a Notice of Termination to the Tenant Household. The landlord must also be able demonstrate compliance with the prerequisites to termination defined in §5.100.040 of Ord. 3705:

    1. The Landlord possesses a valid Business License in accordance with Chapter 5.54 of the County Code; and 
    2. The Landlord has previously provided the Tenant with the Notice of Tenant Rights of the Mandatory Mediation program as required by County Code §5.95.080, or can otherwise demonstrate timely, good faith substantial compliance with the noticing requirements listed herein; and
    3. The Landlord served a Notice of Termination to the Tenant in the form required by County Code §5.100.050, and that the Landlord delivered a true and accurate copy of the Notice of Termination to the CDA Director within 10 calendar days of delivery to the Tenant(s);
    4. The Landlord has not accepted and will not accept rent or any other consideration in return for the continued use of the Dwelling Unit beyond the term of the terminated tenancy in compliance with California Civil Code sections 1945, 1946, and 1946.1; and
    5. The termination qualifies as a For Cause or No Fault termination, as defined in Marin County Code §5.100.040; and
    6. For all Notices of Termination served to the Tenant after June 1, 2019, the Landlord must have registered the Dwelling Unit in accordance with Marin County Code Section §5.100.080; and
    7. The Landlord has complied with the requirements listed in Marin County Code §5.100.090, including possession of a valid Permit to Operate issued by the Marin Environmental Health Services Division.

    Landlords are also required to provide a copy of the Notice of Termination to the County within 10 days of service to the tenant household. An online Notice of Termination form is now available

     

FAQs From Landlords

  • Is there a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance in Marin?

    Yes, the Marin County Board of Supervisors has established an ordinance that requires landlords to have a just cause to terminate a residential tenancy in unincorporated areas of Marin. The ordinance is commonly called Just Cause or Just Cause for Eviction.

    The Just Cause ordinance went into effect on January 17, 2019 and generally applies to properties located in the unincorporated areas of the county with at least 3 units.

  • To what properties does Just Cause for Eviction apply?

    Just Cause generally applies to all properties located in the unincorporated areas of Marin that have at least 3 dwelling units. Unoccupied, vacant, and owner-occupied units and those used as short-term rentals count toward a property’s total number of dwelling units. Exceptions are provided for:

    • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs);
    • Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs);
    • Units with government-subsidized rents;
    • All units in developments where at least 49% of the units are restricted as affordable; and
    • Units occupied by on-site property managers.

    Just Cause typically does not apply to single-family homes.

    For more information, see Marin County Code §5.100.020.

  • In what jurisdiction is my property?

    Use this jurisdiction look-up tool to find out.

  • What counts as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

    A unit is considered an ADU only if it has been permitted by the County. Unpermitted units are not exempt from Just Cause.

    The Building and Safety Division can help you find out if a unit is recognized as an ADU. Make note of the unit address and the address associated with the primary residence before calling 415-473-6269 or visiting the front counter in Suite 308 of the Marin County Civic Center to speak with building officials in person. The front counter is open Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Voice messages may be left at any time and are typically returned within a business day.

    Community Development Agency
    Marin County Civic Center
    3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
    San Rafael, CA 94903

  • For what reasons can tenants be evicted under Just Cause for Eviction?

    Just Cause policies do not protect tenants from eviction if they fail to pay rent or breach a legitimate term of their lease agreement. Grounds for eviction allowed under Just Cause include:

    • Tenant uses of the property for illegal activities;
    • Tenant fails to allow landlord access to the unit, after receiving due notice;
    • Tenant rejects a written lease extension;
    • Landlord, or an immediate family member, moves into the unit;
    • Landlord seeks in good faith to remove the unit from the rental market;
    • Unit is declared unfit for human habitation and must be temporarily removed from the rental market; and
    • Unit is removed from the rental market because substantial renovations required to comply with code enforcement health and safety concerns will make it temporarily unfit for human habitation.

    A complete and detailed list of permissible reasons for a landlord to end a tenancy is provided in Marin County Code §5.100.040.

  • If a tenant doesn’t pay rent can I still give them a 3-day notice to pay or vacate?

    Yes. Confirm that you’re in compliance with the prerequisites to terminate and file a Notice of Termination with the County.

    See the tab “Registry and Notice of Termination” on the County’s Just Cause for Eviction page for more information.

  • How do I terminate a tenancy?

    Effective January 17, 2019, a landlord seeking to terminate a residential tenancy must submit a Notice of Termination to the tenant household.The landlord must also be able to demonstrate compliance with the prerequisites to termination defined in Marin County Code §5.100.040:

    1. The landlord possesses a valid business license in accordance with Chapter 5.54 of the County Code; and 
    2. The landlord has previously provided the tenant with the Notice of Tenant Rights of the Mandatory Mediation program as required by Marin County Code §5.95.080, or can otherwise demonstrate timely, good faith substantial compliance with the noticing requirements listed herein; and
    3. The landlord served a Notice of Termination to the tenant, in the form required by Marin County Code §5.100.050, and that the landlord delivered a true and accurate copy of the Notice of Termination to the CDA Director within 10 calendar days of delivery to the tenant(s);
    4. The landlord has not accepted and will not accept rent or any other consideration in return for the continued use of the dwelling unit beyond the term of the terminated tenancy in compliance with California Civil Code sections 1945, 1946, and 1946.1; and
    5. The termination qualifies as a For Cause or No Fault termination, as defined in Marin County Code §5.100.040; and
    6. For all Notices of Termination served to the tenant after June 1, 2019, the landlord must have registered the dwelling unit in accordance with Marin County Code §5.100.080; and
    7. The landlord has complied with the requirements listed in Marin County Code §5.100.090, including possession of a valid Permit to Operate issued by the Marin Environmental Health Services Division.

    To file a Notice of Termination with the County, landlords may complete an online form, or mail a copy of the printable form to:

    Housing and Federal Grants Division
    Marin County Community Development Agency
    3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
    San Rafael, CA 94903

  • Why are there so many prerequisites to terminate a tenancy?

    Just Cause establishes only two new requirements: annual registration of units and the completion and service of a Notice of Termination when evicting a tenant.

    The other prerequisites are already mandated under existing ordinances and programs. By including them in this ordinance, we’ve created a full checklist to help you manage your responsibilities as a housing provider. To help you keep track of deadlines, we’re incorporating reminders into the design of the registry, which is anticipated to become available on the Just Cause for Eviction webpage by April 1, 2019.

  • How many days’ notice do I need to give my tenant?

    We have a handout online that summarizes procedures you can follow to terminate a residential tenancy.

  • Can I ask a tenant to leave at the end of their lease term?

    You can remove your tenant at any time for one of the reasons enumerated in the Just Cause for Eviction ordinance by filing a lawful Notice of Termination and serving your tenant with it. Without cause, you may not ask your tenant to leave when their lease term ends. Unless you offer to renew the rental agreement, or propose new lease terms, your existing lease will default into continuing on a monthly basis.

    If you offer to renew the lease, or change the terms of it, your tenant retains the right to reject it. In this instance, you do not need to file a Notice of Termination with the County. Your tenant will be expected to vacate the unit at the end of their lease.

  • What happens if a tenant rejects a written lease extension or renewal?

    If, at the end of a lease term, your tenant rejects an offer of a new lease, or extension of the existing one, they will be required to vacate their unit at the end of the lease term. You are not required to file a Notice of Termination with the County.

  • By what date do I need to register my rental units?

    The County anticipates publication of an online registry by April 1, 2019. Landlords are required to register their rental units by June 1, 2019.

  • What’s the difference between a lease termination, an eviction, and unlawful detainer?

    Evictions are generally understood as occurring whenever a residential tenant is forced out of a home by an action or decision of a landlord or property manager. Under Just Cause, landlords may only evict tenants for enumerated reasons, such as nonpayment of rent or a tenant’s breach of their rental contract.

    After a landlord serves and files a lawful Notice of Termination, the tenant is required to vacate their home by the date stipulated on that notice. If they remain, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer complaint, also known as an eviction notice, which specifies the amount of time the tenant has to vacate the property before they are forced to leave and are locked out.

  • In December 2017, did the Marin County Board of Supervisors pass an Ordinance restricting rent increases of more than 5%?

    No, the Board adopted the Rental Housing Dispute Resolution, or “mandatory mediation” ordinance which can require parties to engage in a sincere, facilitated conversation about certain rent increases. Any agreements resulting from the meditation will be voluntarily undertaken. No specific outcome is required, although many mediations have resulted in an agreement accepted by the landlord and tenant.

    Any rent increase that individually or cumulatively results in a rent increase greater than 5% within a 12-month period is eligible for the program. 

    For more information, and to understand your obligations under the ordinance, visit the County’s webpage on the mandatory mediation program.

  • Is Just Cause for Eviction the same thing as rent control?

    No, rent control policies regulate the amount or rate of rent increase that an existing tenant can receive. Just Cause policies define reasons that a tenant may be evicted; they do not address the cost of rent, or a landlord’s ability to increase it.

  • Is the Marin County Board of Supervisors going to adopt rent control?

    The Board has stated that they are not interested in pursuing rent control and rent stabilization policies. To learn more about its work plan to preserve housing affordability and prevent displacement, visit the County’s Affordable Housing webpage.

FAQs From Tenants

  • Is there a Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance in Marin?

    Yes, the Marin County Board of Supervisors has established an ordinance that requires landlords to have a just cause to terminate a residential tenancy in unincorporated areas of Marin. The ordinance is commonly called Just Cause or Just Cause for Eviction.

    The Just Cause ordinance went into effect on January 17, 2019 and generally applies to properties located in the unincorporated areas of the county with at least 3 units.

  • To what properties does Just Cause for Eviction apply?

    Just Cause generally applies to all properties located in the unincorporated areas of Marin that have at least 3 dwelling units. Unoccupied, vacant, and owner-occupied units and those used as short-term rentals count toward a property’s total number of dwelling units. Exceptions are provided for:

    • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs);
    • Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs);
    • Units with government-subsidized rents;
    • All units in developments where at least 49% of the units are restricted as affordable; and
    • Units occupied by on-site property managers.

    Just Cause typically does not apply to single-family homes.

    For more information, see Marin County Code §5.100.020.

  • In what jurisdiction do I live?

    Use this jurisdiction look-up tool to find out.

  • What counts as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)?

    A unit is considered an ADU only if it has been permitted by the County. Unpermitted units are not exempt from Just Cause.

    The Building and Safety Division can help you find out if a unit is recognized as an ADU. Make note of the unit address and the address associated with the primary residence before calling 415-473-6269 or visiting the front counter in Suite 308 of the Marin County Civic Center to speak with building officials in person. The front counter is open Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Voice messages may be left at any time and are typically returned within a business day.

    Community Development Agency
    Marin County Civic Center
    3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
    San Rafael, CA 94903

  • For what reasons can I be evicted under Just Cause for Eviction?

    Just Cause policies do not protect tenants from eviction if they fail to pay rent or breach a legitimate term of their lease agreement. Grounds for eviction allowed under Just Cause include:

    • Tenant uses of the property for illegal activities;
    • Tenant fails to allow landlord access to the unit, after receiving due notice;
    • Tenant rejects a written lease extension;
    • Landlord, or an immediate family member, moves into the unit;
    • Landlord seeks in good faith to remove the unit from the rental market;
    • Unit is declared unfit for human habitation and must be temporarily removed from the rental market; and
    • Unit is removed from the rental market because substantial renovations required to comply with code enforcement health and safety concerns will make it temporarily unfit for human habitation.

    A complete and detailed list of permissible reasons for a landlord to end a tenancy is provided in Marin County Code §5.100.040.

  • If another tenant in my building is involved in illegal activity in their unit, can they be evicted?

    Yes, Just Cause allows tenants engaged in illegal activities or violating a legitimate term of their lease agreement to be evicted for those reasons.

  • Can my landlord ask me to leave for no reason when my lease is up?

    Your landlord can evict you at any time for reasons or, "causes," enumerated in the Just Cause for Eviction ordinance by filing a lawful Notice of Termination and serving you with it. Without cause, your landlord may not ask you to leave when your lease term ends. Unless they offer to renew the rental agreement, or propose new lease terms, your existing lease will default into continuing on a monthly basis.

    If your landlord offers to renew the lease, or change the terms of it, you retain the right to reject it. In this instance, your landlord does not need to file a Notice of Termination with the County, and you will be expected to vacate the unit at the end of your lease.

  • I am a tenant who has received a Notice of Termination; how do I know if its legal?

    Effective January 17, 2019, a landlord subject to Just Cause who is seeking to terminate a residential tenancy must submit a Notice of Termination to the tenant household. The landlord must also be able to demonstrate compliance with the prerequisites to termination defined in Marin County Code §5.100.040:

    1. The landlord possesses a valid business license in accordance with Chapter 5.54 of the County Code; and
    2. The landlord has previously provided the tenant with the Notice of Tenant Rights of the Mandatory Mediation program as required by Marin County Code §5.95.080, or can otherwise demonstrate timely, good faith substantial compliance with the noticing requirements listed herein; and
    3. The landlord served a Notice of Termination to the tenant, in the form required by Marin County Code §5.100.050, and that the landlord delivered a true and accurate copy of the Notice of Termination to the CDA Director within 10 calendar days of delivery to the tenant(s);
    4. The landlord has not accepted and will not accept rent or any other consideration in return for the continued use of the dwelling unit beyond the term of the terminated tenancy in compliance with California Civil Code sections 1945, 1946, and 1946.1; and
    5. The termination qualifies as a For Cause or No Fault termination, as defined in Marin County Code §5.100.040; and
    6. For all Notices of Termination served to the tenant after June 1, 2019, the landlord must have registered the dwelling unit in accordance with Marin County Code §5.100.080; and
    7. The landlord has complied with the requirements listed in Marin County Code §5.100.090, including possession of a valid Permit to Operate issued by the Marin Environmental Health Services Division.

    To file a Notice of Termination with the County, landlords may complete an online form, or mail a copy of the printable form to:

    Housing and Federal Grants Division
    Marin County Community Development Agency
    3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 308
    San Rafael, CA 94903

    Tenants may call the Housing and Federal Grants Division at 415-473-7309 to confirm that their landlord fulfilled their requirement to file a Notice of Termination with the County.

  • What's the difference between a lease termination, an eviction, and unlawful detainer?

    Evictions are generally understood as occurring whenever a residential tenant is forced out of a home by an action or decision of a landlord or property manager. Under Just Cause, landlords may only evict tenants for enumerated reasons, such as nonpayment of rent or a tenant's breach of their rental contract.
     
    After a landlord serves and files a lawful Notice of Termination, the tenant is required to vacate their home by the date stipulated on that notice. If they remain, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer complaint, also known as an eviction notice, which specifies the amount of time the tenant has to vacate the property before they are forced to leave and are locked out.

  • I am a tenant who has received a Notice of Termination; how many days’ notice must I be given before I have to move?

    We have a handout that describes the procedures and timeline that your landlord must abide.

  • In December 2017, did the Marin County Board of Supervisors pass an Ordinance restricting rent increases of more than 5%?

    No, the Board adopted the Rental Housing Dispute Resolution, or “mandatory mediation” ordinance which can require parties to engage in a sincere, facilitated conversation about certain rent increases. Any agreements resulting from the meditation will be voluntarily undertaken. No specific outcome is required, although many mediations have resulted in an agreement accepted by the landlord and tenant.

    Any rent increase that individually or cumulatively results in a rent increase greater than 5% within a 12-month period is eligible for the program.

    For more information, and to understand your rights under the ordinance, visit the County’s webpage on the mandatory mediation program.

  • Is Just Cause for Eviction the same thing as rent control?

    No, rent control policies regulate the amount or rate of rent increase that an existing tenant can receive. Just Cause policies define reasons that a tenant may be evicted; they do not address the cost of rent, or a landlord’s ability to increase it.

  • Is the Marin County Board of Supervisors going to adopt rent control?

    The Board of Supervisors has stated that they are not interested in pursuing rent control and rent stabilization policies. To learn more about their work plan to preserve housing affordability and prevent displacement, visit the County’s affordable housing webpage.

Background

October 13, 2015 The Board of Supervisors conducts a workshop to review results of a 2015 rental housing survey in which a Just Cause ordinance and other affordable housing and tenant protection measures are introduced. (webcast of meeting; presentation; staff reportinforme del personal)

December 15, 2015 A more detailed continuation of the prior Board of Supervisors workshop on affordable housing and tenant protection policy options. The Board of Supervisors chooses to forego pursing a rent stability ordinance for the time being, and retains a Just Cause ordinance for future consideration along with other policy options. (webcast of meeting; presentationstaff reportinforme del personal)

February 9, 2016 Staff requests confirmation of next steps and timing for consideration of policy options according to a phase schedule. The Board of Supervisors directs staff to move the Source of Income Protection ordinance to Phase I and the Just Cause ordinance to Phase III. (webcast of meeting; presentationstaff reportinforme del personal)

August 1, 2017 The Board of Supervisors considers update staff recommendation for implementation of housing policy options and agrees to enhance acquisition and preservation of existing affordable rental housing and Landlord Partnership Program. Board also supports further consideration of a Rental Housing Dispute Resolution ("Mandatory Mediation") ordinance and Just Cause ordinance. (webcast of meeting; presentationstaff reportinforme del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

December 5, 2017 The Board Affordable Housing Subcommittee conducts First Reading of Rental Housing Dispute Resolution ("Mandatory Mediation") ordinance and directs staff to return for further consideration of a Just Cause ordinance in 2018. (webcast of meeting; presentationstaff reportinforme del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

June 12, 2018 The Assessment of Fair Housing identifies consideration of a Just Cause policy as a priority recommendation to promote fair housing opportunities in Marin. The Board of Supervisors schedules a September 11 informational workshop on Just Cause policies. (staff reportinforme del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

September 11, 2018 The Board of Supervisors hosts an informational workshop on Just Cause policies and directs staff to develop a draft ordinance. (webcast of meeting; presentation / presentación / trình bày; board packet / informe del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

December 4, 2018 The Board of Supervisors conducts a first reading of the ordinance requiring cause to terminate a residential tenancy, commonly called Just Cause. (webcast of meeting; presentation; Board packet / informe del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

December 18, 2018 The Board of Supervisors conducts a merit hearing and adopts the ordinance requiring cause to terminate a residential tenancy. (webcast of meeting; board packet / informe del personal / báo cáo nhân viên)

Additional Resources