Campaigns

What is Just Cause Eviction?

Just Cause eviction statutes are laws that protect tenants from eviction for an improper reason.  Cities or states that have Just Cause eviction statutes allow landlords or owners to evict a tenant only for certain reasons, such as failure to pay rent or for violation of the lease terms.

Do All States or Cities Require or have Just Cause Evictions?
Only a few states, such as New Jersey and New Hampshire, have Just Cause eviction statutes.  Many cities also have Just Cause eviction statutes such as in CaliforniaSan Francisco-(In SF just cause only applies to rental housing built or substantially remodeled before 1979), Oakland, Berkeley, Glendale, Hayward, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, San Diego, Palm Springs…Other Cities:  Seattle, and Chicago.  Most rent controlled cities also require Just Cause evictions.

What Type of Activity Can Lead to a Just Cause Eviction?
Local statute’s vary on what type of activity can result in a Just Cause eviction.  Some of the most common types of action that can lead to a Just Cause eviction are:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Creating a nuisance
  • Using rented unit for illegal purposes
  • Owner move in evictions
  • Routinely paying rent late or bouncing the rent checks
  • Substantially damaging the property
  • Denying the owner reasonable access to the unit for repairs as required by state and local law
  • Failure to abide by the lease after written notice of the violation of the lease provision
  • Owner seeks to demolish or permanently remove the unit from the rental market and has abided by all state and local law

Generally, the rent control board of the city or a similar association is set up to ensure that the proper procedures are being followed for evictions.

Does Oregon have Just Cause Evictions?

No, nor are there any cities with ordinances that require just cause evictions.

Oregon has No-Cause evictions:
Even if you have not violated the rental agreement and have not been late on paying rent, a landlord can usually ask you to move out at any time (assuming you don’t have a fixed term lease).

For month to month renters, landlords may evict a tenant using a 30-Day No Cause Notice if you’ve lived in the unit less than one (1) year, or a 60-Day No-Cause Notice if you lived in the unit more than one (1) year.

To see a list of Oregon’s eviction notices please click here.

The case for Oregon to have Just Cause:

ADVANTAGES of Just Cause

  • Limits ability of landlords to evict existing renters.   While landlords retain full property control, Just Cause would prevent them from evicting tenants without reason.
  • Protects tenants who have month-to-month leases.   Just Cause protects those tenants who have month-to-month leases from being evicted by landlords for the sole purpose of increasing rents.  Tenants who sign short-term leases are often low-income and working families with little or no job security, so just cause would be critical for stabilizing this population.
  • Stabilizes communities.   By slowing down evictions and decreasing turnover rates in an area, communities become more stable.  This is particularly important in expensive housing markets. Just cause would increase personal and community stability.
  • Security of Tenure.  With an increase of stability will come an increase of safety and security.(1)

Numerous studies have shown that those who are evicted are typically poor, women, and minorities.

1. In New York City, a 1993 study found that close to half of the tenants facing eviction in Housing Court had incomes below $10,000; 86 percent were African American or Latino (Community Training and Resource Center and City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Inc. 1993. Housing Court, Evictions, and Homelessness: The Costs and Benefits of Establishing a Right to Counsel. New York.).

2. In Chicago, 72 percent of those appearing in court were African American, 62 percent were women (Chadha, Lisa Parsons. 1996. Time to Move: The Denial of Tenants’ Rights in Chicago’s Eviction Court. Chicago: Lawyers Committee for Better Housing, Inc.)

3. A study of rent court in Baltimore found that the vast majority of tenants facing eviction were “poor black women” and in “marginal economic circumstances” (Bezdek, Barbara. 1992. Silence in the Court: Participation and Subordination of Poor Tenants’ Voices in Legal Process. Hofstra Law Review (20):533-605.).

4. In Philadelphia, a researcher found that 83 percent of the tenants facing eviction were nonwhite and that 70 percent were nonwhite women (Eldridge, David L. 2001. The Making of a Courtroom: Landlord-Tenant Trials inPhiladelphia’s Municipal Court. Ph.D. diss. University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work.)

5. A Los Angeles study concluded: The analysis [of unlawful detainer cases filed in the Municipal Court of the City of Los Angeles in the first six months of 1991] points to one overwhelming finding: the higher [the] percentage of African American persons and children (persons under 18 years of age) belonging to female headed households, the higher the eviction rate¼.Self-help, extra-legal evictions where the landlord forces the tenant out, may be more common in immigrant communities where new arrivals are less aware of their rights and more susceptible to intimidation. Therefore, the results may understate the eviction rate for immigrant groups. (Heskin, Allan David, and Kevin A. Davidson. 1993. Residential Evictions in the City of Los Angeles (first half of 1991): Ethnicity and Gender. Unpublished paper. University of California, Los Angeles, Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning.)

6. In Oakland, “[F]our out of five ’30-day No Cause’ evictions (78%) are minority households” (East Bay Housing Organizations. 2002. Pushed Out for No Reason: Oakland Senior and Disabled Residents at High Risk for Eviction. Oakland, CA.)

7. Another New York City study found that a disproportionate number of evictions take place in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough, which has the highest proportion of low-income tenants. (Rubel, David. 2001. Evictions Rise in the Bronx, but Decline in Other Boroughs between 1997 and 1999. Unpublished study. Citizens Advice Bureau.)

Challenges:

Although evictions are a major housing problem that disproportionately affects lower-income and minority tenants, no systematic data about evictions are collected on a local  or national level (2).

There clearly are severe  data-collection limitations, but that fact should not impede efforts to  generate and disseminate whatever data exists or can be easily collected, and to facilitate the creation of new sources. The existence of numerical  information in itself permits and encourages the media, policy makers, public officials, researchers, and the general public to pay attention to a problem that is now just beneath the surface.

Next steps for Just Cause in Oregon:

Since we know that data is a limitation, Community Alliance of Tenants will be moving forward in producing a survey/questionnaire for tenants in Oregon who have faced No-Cause eviction. Our goal for this survey is to develop data that proves what we already know, that No Cause evictions are disproportionately used as a method of retaliation and discrimination.

We have already moved forward in creating a task force, which is made up of tenants and a staff member. This task force will help conduct research, get organizations to endorse our Just Cause Campaign and help in the further development of this campaign.