Renters are at a disadvantage… but THERE ARE SOME SIGNS OF PROGRESS

Under today’s laws and regulations, renters have no absolutely no protection from arbitrary eviction if they rent from month-to-month or when their lease expires. 

Landlords hold all the cards. A landlord wanting to evict a tenant can do so for any reason, or for no reason, and need not even tell the tenant why he or she is being evicted! In an economy where landlords are consistently seeing annual profits increase by 10% and more, and where the vacancy rate is virtually zero, tenants – even those who have resided in their home or apartment for years – are extremely vulnerable.  Even good tenants potentially face eviction at the expiration of their lease term, or upon 30 – 60 days notice under a month-to-month arrangement, without cause. Finding alternative housing within Marin at all– but particularly on short notice– is almost impossible.

Nonetheless, there are signs of progress. On August 1st, the Board of Supervisors held a public workshop to discuss and receive staff and public input on a number of current and potential efforts to increase affordable housing in Marin and to protect those who currently reside in such housing.

One of the potential efforts being considered is a Just Cause Eviction ordinance.  The Board directed County staff to study whether and how such ordinances have worked in other communities that have enacted them, and to present the results to the Board and the public.

Just Cause Eviction ordinance would establish criteria that would constitute “just cause” for evicting rental housing tenants. This would provide at least some level of protection for responsible tenants, providing them with greater security and stability, while giving landlords guidance they could rely upon when determining whether a tenant may properly be evicted, such as for failing to pay rent, causing property damage or conducting illegal activity.  The Board is also considering implementing a mediation program that might help landlords and tenants compromise when the landlord is considering large rent increases.

MEHC is watching this issue and will alert readers on future workshops and hearings.

Thank you to our colleagues and friends who attended the recent workshop, wrote or called the supervisors, and have been following this critical issue. Stay tuned, MEHC will continue to follow  and advocate for a JUST CAUSE EVICTION ordinance in Marin.