The City Council voted on April 18th by a narrow 6-5 vote to adopt new rules that govern the eviction process for apartment tenants. These new provisions effectively eliminate the ability of a property owner to evict a tenant without cause (hence the name of the policy – “just cause”).
At face value, this policy is a step in the right direction by providing tenants with slightly more protection against potentially bad landlords. However, as with many policies, the devil is in the details. By requiring that property owners always show cause to evict tenants, getting out bad tenants can become much more difficult. To show cause can be a difficult court-oriented process.
I proposed a compromise approach whereby tenants would receive the “just cause” protection after one year of tenancy (12 months). I felt like this length of time would give property owners the necessary amount of time to evaluate whether or not a particular tenant would negatively impact the quality of life of their neighbors and community.
However, this proposal was voted down in favor of granting tenants immediate “just cause” protection as soon as they move into a unit. While I can greatly appreciate the protections that this will afford tenants, especially given the recent examples of evictions in the news, I am worried about the unintended consequences of the policy. I worry about the reduction in housing options for our most vulnerable residents because landlords will make their tenancy requirements stricter. Landlords will be less likely to provide opportunities for residents to prove that they would be excellent tenants.