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Cause for Eviction

What is "Cause for Eviction"?

Cause for Eviction (or "Just Cause") policies are intended to provide stability for households who rent by regulating the grounds for eviction. San Rafael's Cause for Eviction Ordinance is intended to promote greater awareness of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants and to provide a clear and transparent process for evictions and lease terminations.


The City of San Rafael’s Cause for Eviction Ordinance went into effect on July 17, 2019. The City Council discussed this policy on February 4, 2019 (Staff Report | PPT | Council Meeting), May 6, 2019 (Staff Report | PPT | Council Meeting), and June 3, 2019 (Staff ReportCouncil Meeting). A copy of the final Ordinance is available here.

Watch This Brief Video to Learn about Cause for Eviction in San Rafael


1. Are there detailed Implementation Guidelines that cover all relevant policies and procedures?

Yes, you can find them here.

2. What units are covered by this law?

This Ordinance applies to all properties that contain at least three separate Dwelling Units.

The following units are exempted: any Dwelling Unit that is owned or operated by any government agency; any Dwelling Unit where the Rent is directly subsidized by a government agency (e.g. Section 8  vouchers); any Dwelling Unit in a development that is restricted for affordable housing; any Dwelling Unit occupied by a Tenant employed by the Landlord for the purpose of managing the property; or any Dwelling Unit occupied in whole or in part by the property owner or the property owner’s family members, including parents, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, and/or nephews.

3. Are there requirements landlords must follow in order to evict a tenant?

Yes, there are four requirements. First, the Landlord must possesses a valid business license. Second, the Landlord must have previously provided the Tenant with a Notice of Tenant Rights  (versión en español). Third, the Landlord has not accepted and will not accept rent or any other consideration in return for the continued use of the Dwelling Unit. Finally, the termination qualifies as a For Cause or No Fault termination.

4. What Are "For Cause" Terminations?

For more detailed explanations of each reason, please consult the Cause for Eviction Ordinance.

  • Failure to Pay Rent
  • Breach of Rental Contract
  • Tenant Illegal Activities
  • Threat of Violent Crime
  • Nuisance Behavior

5. What Are "No Fault" Terminations?

For more detailed explanations of each reason, please consult the Cause for Eviction Ordinance.

  • Landlord Will Permanently Remove Unit from Rental Market
  • Landlord Will Move in to Dwelling Unit.
  • Substantial Rehabilitation for Health and Safety.
  • Tenant’s Refusal to Execute Lease.

6. How many days' notice do I need to give to my tenant?

For the permanent removal of a Dwelling Unit from the rental market, notice is required 120 days in advance of the final date of tenancy. For other "No Fault" terminations, at least 60 days of notice if the Tenant has resided in the unit for one or more years and at lest 30 days of notice if the Tenant has resided in the unit for less than one year. For "For Cause" terminations such as failure to pay rent, at least three business days prior to the intended final date of tenancy and, if applicable, after notice and opportunity to cure.

7. 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 you can file per usual.

8. Does the City have an "Eviction Notice" that I can use to comply with the Cause for Eviction regulations?

Yes, you can find it here (versión en español). Additionally, please make sure to comply with any other state or federal requirements regulating evictions.

9. 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 above 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 to a month-to-month lease.

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

10. 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.

11. Is Cause for Eviction the same thing as rent control?

No. Cause for Eviction does not in any way limit a Landlord's ability to raise rental prices.

12. As a Tenant, are there legal resources available to help with an eviction?

Yes, you can contact organizations like Legal Aid of Marin (1401 Los Gamos Dr #101, San Rafael, CA 94903 | (415) 492-0230 ext 102) or Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (1314 Lincoln Ave Ste. A, San Rafael, CA 94901 | (415) 457-5025).


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