San Rafael, CA – Two decisions by the Marin County Board of Supervisors on December 18 were designed to alleviate pressure in the county’s housing market, sparked by high rents and marked by displacement and low vacancy rates.
Just cause for eviction is part of a larger series of affordable housing and tenant protection measures the Marin County Board Board of Supervisors has supported since 2015. (U.S. Housing and Urban Development photo)
The Board approved an ordinance requiring landlords to provide reason – a just cause
– before evicting a renter within the unincorporated areas of Marin and expanded a fee waiver program to encourage the creation of both accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs) through 2019.
The just cause ordinance had been recommended by two independent groups that studied fair housing practices and existing barriers to fair housing choice for more than a year in the local market. Just cause joins a larger series of affordable housing and tenant protection measures the Board has supported since 2015 as it has made equity one of its top priorities. County housing measures already approved and in place include source of income protection for tenants with housing vouchers, mandatory mediation for rent increases above 5 percent, and financial incentives to encourage landlords to rent to those who need shelter the most.
“The intent of this ordinance is to relieve displacement pressures and support stability for renter households while retaining the rights of landlords to terminate rental agreements for legitimate reasons,” said Leelee Thomas, Planning Manager for the Marin County Community Development Agency. “It mitigates the risks that tenants may encounter from unexpected lease terminations caused by no fault of their own.”
The ordinance, which goes into effect January 17, 2019, applies to properties with three or more rental units and does not limit allowable rent increases. In response to calls from the public and the Board for more accurate and timelier data on the local housing market, a data collection provision as part of the ordinance.
The justifiable causes for eviction described in the ordinance include:
- failure to pay rent
- a breach of the rental contract
- the tenant using the unit for illegal activities
- the landlord permanently removing the unit from the rental market; and
- the landlord moving into the unit.
After a yearlong trial run, the Board voted again to waive up to $1500 in building fees for certain rentals within existing homes, called JADUs, that typically contain a wet bar and other small food preparation facilities. JADUs are seen as a way to increase the County’s housing stock while supporting older adults who wish to age in place. It also expanded the waiver program to reduce fees up to $3,500 for ADUs, which contain full kitchens and are generally larger than JADUs.
Anyone may subscribe to receive e-mailed notifications about housing-related issues. Materials about just cause for eviction are available on the CDA website, including answers to frequently asked questions. For more information on the applicable standards and permit process for JADUs and ADUs, contact the Marin County Building and Safety office at 415-473-6550 or check the Building and Safety Code Division webpage.