Just cause eviction ordinances are a form of tenant protection designed to prevent arbitrary, retaliatory, or discriminatory evictions by establishing that landlords can only evict renters for specific reasons — just causes — such as failure to pay rent. In many cities and states, landlords can evict tenants for no reason at all. Just cause eviction ordinances are an important policy tool to prevent displacement and promote tenant stability, especially in neighborhoods where rents are rising and vacancies are low, where landlords may seek to evict existing tenants to renovate their buildings and attract wealthier renters at higher prices. Just cause ordinances also protect tenants who report inadequate housing conditions or request repairs. Cities also have a bottom-line interest in housing stability: when financially insecure residents are evicted from their homes, city budgets pay a big price due to lost tax revenue, unpaid utilities, and the costs associated with services for homeless people.
In concert with other anti-displacement strategies, just cause policies can help slow the processes of gentrification that can displace entire neighborhoods in a matter of years — so that all residents, regardless of race or income, can stay and benefit from reinvestment and growth. Stable housing allows residents to build close connections to their neighbors, which can support increased economic and political power over time. Preventing evictions is also a key strategy to maintain neighborhood stability in housing markets where landlords may be tempted to use eviction as a tool to remove rent-protected households. At the household level, a recent study linked evictions to depression, poorer health, higher levels of stress, and higher rates of material hardship, especially among low-income mothers.
In addition to the PolicyLink resources listed to the right, see Causa Justa/Just Cause, the Association of Bay Area Governments, and the Right to the City Alliance for more resources on just cause ordinances.