The San Diego City Council has proposed these no-fault rent protections out of a spirit of protecting renters and limiting the incidence of homelessness in the region. While these are undoubtedly good motives, the actual practice falls short of the intention originally considered by the Council. No-fault evictions are those that are unrelated to non-payment of rent or violations of the tenant’s lease. Some of the other reasons that no-fault evictions can occur include the following reasons:
- the landlord removes a given property from the renter’s marketplace
- the landlord wishes to take possession of the property so as to make needed repairs
- the landlord wants to move into the property and make it a primary residence
While this legislation was well-intentioned, it has not had the desired effect. It doesn’t seem like landlords should be penalized for wanting to sell their property or move into it themselves. The entire crisis arose out of an inability to meet the burgeoning needs for housing in San Diego County. A study which was recently conducted discovered that almost 14,000 new units would be needed annually to meet the housing needs of residents in the area. This is expected to remain true throughout the coming decade, at least until 2030. In 2022, the city could only authorize the construction of approximately 4,500 new units – which means the problem will continue to grow and become even worse by the end of the decade.
Why no-fault legislation fails
The main reason why this legislation fails is that it strongly infringes on private property rights, and takes the element of choice out of a landlord’s hands. Clearly, this legislation is doing nothing to solve the homelessness crisis, and in fact its only clear result thus far is to catapult San Diego into the top spot in the country for the nation’s most unaffordable housing market. This is hardly the way to encourage growth and business in the region, and in fact, it will soon begin to discourage both.
There are some entirely legitimate reasons for landlords to want to sell their properties or to take up residence themselves. It must be borne in mind that at least 41% of all rental properties in the city are single units owned by a single landlord, rather than a real estate company. It is very likely that at some point these owners would want to make personal use of the properties they own and move into one of them. When major modifications are needed for a property, it can take up to six months to renovate, and legislation calls for landlords to reimburse renters for up to three months when they are forced to move out for remodeling.
This does very little to protect renters, but the real impact is that it thoroughly discourages landlords from carrying out needed repairs in the first place. In fact, this is characteristic of the entire body of legislation proposed by the City Council. It means well, but the true impact not only infringes on private property rights, but it also discourages any kind of major renovation by landlords. While providing renters with reimbursement to cover moving expenses seems like a good thing, what it actually does is mandate the process by legislation. The truth is, all aspects of this no-fault eviction proposal by the City Council fall into the same category – they are all well-intentioned, but fall far short of being fair to all parties concerned.
If you are a landlord or property owner in San Diego and have additional questions, contact our Landlord Attorney in San Diego.