Just like that, "just cause" just dies

illustration of a house with an arrow in it

It’s really hard to pass pro-tenant bills in California.

Earlier this year, a group of progressive lawmakers mostly from the Bay Area proposed four bills aimed at protecting California’s 17 million renters: a bill that would have allowed cities to expand rent control to more properties, a proposal to create a statewide eviction database, a rent-gouging cap that would limit big rent hikes, and a bill to force landlords to evict tenants only for “just cause”—such as breaking the terms of a lease or criminal activity on the premises.

After “just cause” failed to receive a vote on the Assembly floor today, only the rent-gouging bill remains alive.

Authored by Assemblymen Rob Bonta and Timothy Grayson, both Democrats from the East Bay, AB 1481 would have required landlords to disclose a specific reason for removing tenants after their lease had expired, and would have forced them to provide some relocation assistance in certain circumstances. Tenants would also have the opportunity to “cure” behaviors that could result in eviction.

“Just cause” is loathed by the landlord lobby and its allies—they say it would become a major obstacle to removing problematic tenants who are a nuisance not only to owners but to renter neighbors. The bill was considered a “twin” measure to AB 1482, the rent-gouging cap, and without just cause protections, tenant groups fear landlords would simply remove tenants in order to raise rents beyond the cap. It is unclear whether the rent-gouging cap might be amended to include stronger eviction protections.

—Matt Levin