County of Marin - News Releases - Just Cause for Eviction

For Immediate Release
September 13, 2018

County to Further Explore Just Cause for Eviction

Board directs staff to prepare an ordinance for consideration

San Rafael, CA – Aiming to relieve housing displacement pressures felt by many Marin County residents, the County of Marin will move forward with a draft ordinance that would require a clear reason before a landlord may evict a tenant living in an unincorporated part of the county.

Residents pick up written materials from a table prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting.Residents pick up written materials prior to the September 11 Board of Supervisors meeting.
The workshop at the Marin County Civic Center lasted about three hours and attracted a large crowd, including 39 people who spoke on the topic. Board members acknowledged a growing housing crisis that is displacing individuals and families. The Board directed staff to draft a just cause ordinance for their consideration. The Board also requested more data on evictions, so staff will explore including a data collection provision as part of a just cause ordinance.

Planners from the Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) explained the differences between a just cause ordinance and rent control, noting two Bay Area cities – Emeryville and Union City – that have just cause ordinances in place without a rent control ordinance. A just cause ordinance would not prevent a landlord from raising rents, but it would require an explanation if a tenant is not being evicted for nonpayment of rent or other violations of the rental agreement.

Marin has some of the lowest home vacancy rates in the Bay Area, matched or beaten only by San Mateo and San Francisco counties. Very few units are available on a given day, and renters who receive lease terminations often have trouble finding a new home in their community. With difficulty keeping kids in schools and parents near their jobs, an eviction can lead to long-term or permanent displacement out of Marin. A just cause ordinance would be designed to soften displacement by insulating tenants from the threat of unexpected lease terminations caused by no fault of their own.

Just cause has been studied as part of a larger series of affordable housing and tenant protection measures the Board has been working on since late 2015. Those measures reflect the County’s interest in advancing social equity through its policies and programs. Historically, residents in protected classes (based on ethnicity, age, disability, sexual preference and others) have been prevented from accessing homeownership and face increased obstacles to making a purchase. CDA said a just cause ordinance would extend a degree of protection for renters who are more likely to be members of protected social classes. It would provide stability for tenants to remain in their communities and increase awareness of both tenant and landlord rights.

County of Marin housing measures already approved and in place are source of income protection for tenants with affordable housing vouchers, mandatory mediation for rent increases above 5 percent, and financial incentives to encourage landlords to rent to those who need shelter the most.

A County just cause ordinance would only affect the unincorporated parts of Marin; towns and cities create their own housing policies. If you’re not sure whether you live within town or city limits, use the County’s property jurisdiction look-up website.

Materials about just cause are available on the CDA website, including answers to frequently asked questions and sample ordinances. Anyone may subscribe to receive e-mailed notifications regarding the availability of the staff report and to stay informed about housing-related issues.


Leelee Thomas
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6697
Email: Leelee Thomas
Affordable Housing webpage