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San Luis Obispo's temporary tenant protection law in effect

If any renters in San Luis Obispo recently received an eviction notice, it could possibly be unlawful. City officials have passed an emergency tenant protection ordinanceseeking to prevent unjust evictions and unreasonable rent hikes. About 65 percent of San Luis Obispo residents are renters.

The local law took effect immediately after the city council passed it on November 26. According to the city manager, the council found the issue acute enough to only require one hearing to pass the ordinance.

The law protects San Luis Obispo tenants against last-minute rent increases and unjust or without cause evictions. Last minute because AB 1482, a statewide law that provides the same protections, goes into effect on January 1. But until then, many in the state discovered the time period between when Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 into law in early October and the law’s effective date served as a loophole.

“Locally, we've seen [cities, like] the city of Grover Beach [and] throughout California adopt emergency or urgency ordinances establishing protections during the gap period,” said city manager Derek Johnson.

Johnson said the local law is retroactive when it comes to some evictions.

"The ordinance does contain a retroactive provision related to unjust evictions," Johnson said. "That trigger is that unless an unlawful detainer has been issued, essentially this ordinance will apply." 

That’s true even if a renter received an eviction notice stretching back to mid-March. 

During the discussion, San Luis Obispo’s mayor pointed out the urgency ordinance was not written to demonize landlords. Its aim is to try and prevent any local renters being forced into homelessness.

“The state law...is a pretty mild effort to try and remedy the lack of affordability and accessibility in this state,” said Mayor Heidi Harmon. “And as we can see in our community here in San Luis Obispo, there is—seems like quite literally every day—an increasing impact on the lack of housing, as we see in our unsheltered folks living throughout our community.”

Under the statewide law, a landlord is allowed to increase rent with each new tenant, and the just cause provisions were added, Derek Johnson said, “to prevent strategic use of tenant removal to avoid rent caps.”

The temporary local law passed by a council vote of four to zero, and will be automatically repealed on Jan. 1, 2020. 

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