Palo Alto has expanded its “just cause” for eviction rules to new, previously exempt housing and to renters just six months into their tenancy.

The City Council on Monday enacted the accelerated phase-in period for just-cause protections. The California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, passed as AB 1482, typically requires 12-months of tenancy before the eviction protections kick in. 

Just cause eviction laws specify the legal reasons a landlord can evict a tenant, such as for nonpayment of rent or other violations of lease terms.

The council also expanded just cause rules to new housing. The just-cause rules in AB 1482, regarded as the nation’s strongest statewide tenant protection law, apply only to housing after it turns 15 years old.

Further, the council passed a measure to cap security deposits at 1.5 times the rent. Under state law, landlords can charge up to two months’ rent for an unfurnished unit and three months’ rent for a furnished one, although a bill pending in the Legislature would lower those amounts. The council also lowered the threshold for relocation payments to properties with 10 units or more, down from 50 units.

Anil Babbar, senior vice president of local public affairs for the California Apartment Association, said the city is acting rashly by adopting the ordinance.

Anil Babbar

He noted that AB 1482, which bolstered eviction protections and capped rent increases on most California rental housing, was the result of careful deliberation, including state legislators’ choice of a 12-month threshold.

Expanding on the state’s already stout tenant protections reflects misplaced priorities, he said. A recent municipal report indicates that Palo Alto has added a mere 156 housing units since 2015.

“The Palo Alto City Council should be focused on ensuring more affordable homes are built rather than adding more red tape and regulations,” Babbar told CBS San Francisco.

On Aug. 31, the city will host a meeting to discuss a rental registry proposal. The registry would require every rental housing provider to provide rent and tenant data to the city. CAA stands opposed to these additional changes and will inform owners on voicing their opposition.