Tenants Protection Act – Questions and Answers Part 2

A couple weeks ago we addressed the passage of the new statewide rent control legislation and our first installment of questions and answers. Today, Adem Balikci addresses more of the questions we are seeing from clients across the board.    
As always, if you have any questions about your real estate, business, estate planning, or any other legal issue, please let us know by e-mailing managing shareholder Keith Dunnagan at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com.
Also, remember that we do legal presentations for business and community organizations. If your group would like to schedule a presentation, please contact me to setup a date and time.


Reader Questions – Part 2
By: Adem Balikci, Esq.

The first part of this series addressed questions from individuals related to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Today, we continue to respond to your questions about California’s recently enacted landlord-tenant laws.

Q: Wish to run a scenario by you on how it falls under this new law: Oakland Single Family Residential Property purchased in 1991 by two brothers holding the title as joint tenants. In November of 2017, owner #1 installed doors closing off a space for himself and turned into an in-law unit with its own bath and unpermitted kitchen. Owner #2 resides in the other part of the property with his family. Girlfriend has lived on and off with owner #1 since 2012 but has lived in in-law unit with no absence since July 2018. Owner #1 went out of country for business and won’t be back until October. Owner #2 gave a 30-Day Notice to Vacate.

Q1: Is the Property exempt from just cause eviction under the new law?

A1: California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“TPA”) states that a property is exempt from just cause eviction and rent increase if the landlord lives in a unit and uses the unit as his principle place of residence. Had this property been located in a place other than Oakland, and San Francisco it would be exempt from just cause eviction under the TPA because the owner lives in one of the units. However, the TPA does not apply to any just cause eviction and/or rent control ordinances enacted prior to September 1, 2019. Here, because the property is located in Oakland, which has a local ordinance that was enacted prior to September 1, 2019, that requires just cause eviction the local ordinance would govern and require compliance with the just cause eviction requirements.

Q2: Does girlfriend have protection rights as a tenant even though she is just living with owner #1 and not paying rent.

A2: This question is complicated and there is not a simple answer to it. It looks like the girlfriend is a tenant at will who resides with the permission of one of the owners. It could be argued that a person who lives with the permission of the landlord with no rent payment is exempt from the TPA because she is not considered a tenant. However, the other owner holds the property as joint tenant and has a right to occupy the property. Therefore, you still may not be able to evict her because other property laws apply here not just landlord tenant laws. This is a topic of a separate blog.

Q: What about the 15-year rolling timetable and the relationship to Costa Hawkins?

A: Housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years are exempt from the TPA. As to its relationship with Costa Hawkins, the TPA is just like Costa Hawkins as it allows the landlord to increase the rent to the market value when he/she rents to a new tenant. Accordingly, the Act permits landlords to “establish the initial rental rate for a dwelling or unit” following voluntary departure by the prior tenants or following for-cause evictions.

Costa Hawkins exempts housing that was issued a certificate of occupancy after February 1, 1995. Unlike Costa Hawkins or Sacramento Tenant Protection and Relief Act, the TPA does not indicate any specific date. The language of the TPA is not that clear; it only states that “housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within previous 15 years” is exempt from the TPA. As such, it is not clear whether housing that was issued a certificate of occupancy after January 1, 2005 (15 years back from January 1, 2020) will be subject to the TPA next year, or whether every house that was issued certificate of occupancy after January 1, 2005 will continue to be exempt from the TPA until this law expires in 2030.

Q: What happens if we decide to do a total remodel of a unit, such as new kitchen, two new bathrooms, new flooring, new paint, etc.?

A: The TPA allows the landlord to evict their tenants if the landlord intents to demolish or substantially remodel the residential real property. When the remodel is so substantial in it that the work cannot be accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in place and the situation is such that requires the tenant to vacate the property for at least 30 days, a landlord may evict the tenant by giving the tenant a relocation assistance. For relocation assistance, you can either pay to the tenant one month’s rent or you may waive the last month’s rent. However, the question is what does “substantially remodel” mean. This term is not defined and it will likely take either clarification from the Assembly or the Courts to determine the rules that govern this. Needless to say it will be a bit of a gamble for landlords going forward.

The new law is complex and it’s many nuances will likely be played out via litigation, to allow the Courts to determine the validity and scope of its provision. In fact, so many questions have been raised by readers of this Blog that we will address more in Part II of this series in a couple weeks.


The attorneys of BPE Law Group, PC. have been advising our clients on real estate, business and estate planning issues for over 20 years and have assisted numerous clients in business and real estate matters and have represented and advised brokers on their professional obligations as well as consumers on their rights. If you have questions concerning legal matters, give us a call at (916) 966-2260 or e-mail Keith at kbdunnagan@bpelaw.com. Our flat fee consult for new clients may get you the answers you need for the questions you have.

The information presented in this Article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every person’s situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your State immediately so that you can determine your best options.