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Marin County supervisors to consider “just cause” tenant eviction ordinance

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The Marin County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider adopting an ordinance that requires just cause for terminating a tenant’s rental agreement.

If approved, the ordinance will take effect Jan. 17, 2019. It would apply to all properties with three or more units in the unincorporated areas of the county. It stipulates reasons for when a tenancy can be terminated or a renter evicted.

Under the ordinance, a landlord can evict a tenant “for cause” if a tenant fails to pay rent within three days of receiving a written notice, violates a material term of the rental agreement or uses the dwelling unit for illegal purposes such as distributing a controlled substance or using, manufacturing or possessing weapons and ammunition.

Landlords also can evict a tenant who makes a threat to commit a violent crime resulting in death or bodily injury, or who continues nuisance or disorderly behavior that destroys the peace, comfort or safety of the rental complex.

“No fault” terminations are allowed if the landlord will permanently remove the rental unit from the market, the landlord or one of his parents or children intend to move into a dwelling unit as their primary residence, or to perform substantial repairs to the unit that cannot occur while occupied.

The Board of Supervisors amended the ordinance on Dec. 4. The second reading and public hearing is on Tuesday, and the Board is required to conduct a hearing to consider revisions or reconsideration of the ordinance in about two years

Just cause policies are intended to provide stability for renters by regulating grounds for eviction while retaining the rights of landlords to terminate rental agreements for clearly defined and reasonable expectations, Brian Crawford, Marin County director of community development, and Leelee Thomas, planning manager, said in a staff report to the supervisors.

The ordinances also promote the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, promote clear communication between them and encourage reporting of habitability concerns and a transparent process for evictions and terminations, according to the staff report.

The public hearing and proposed adoption of the ordinance is expected to take place in the Board’s afternoon session.

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