by Photo courtesy of the City of Chula Vista

Chula Vista’s Tenant Protection Ordinance is poised to go into effect on March 1, to protect renters from no-fault evictions by landlords acting in bad faith. 

The ordinance would provide more tenants with relocation assistance and protect tenants from landlord harassment and retaliation. The Chula Vista City Council, on Nov. 1, 2022, adopted the Chula Vista Municipal Code (s“CVMC”) section 9.65, the Residential Tenant Protection Ordinance, to strengthen the statewide protections already in place and provide greater tenant protections in certain instances of no-fault eviction. 

The ordinance states the reasons for the needed protections are that over 42% of the housing in Chula Vista is rentals, and 44% of renters pay more than 50% of their income towards housing costs. According to the city, 47% of Chula Vista’s households are lower income and earn 80% of the Area Median Income or less ($68,000 annual income for a family of four) and 46% of these households pay more than 50% of their income toward housing costs as renters and homeowners. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exasperated residents, particularly those within low-wage and service industries, who are at risk of failing to maintain housing and falling into homelessness, and inflation rates are bringing more costs to residents leaving them vulnerable to eviction.

Under the ordinance, the city attorney has the ability to: 

(1) Require owner and tenant to participate in education programs related to issues, mediation, or an alternative dispute resolution program. 

(2) Issue administrative citations or penalties for violations, not to exceed $5,000 per violation, per day. 

(3) Take civil action on behalf of the tenant. 

(4) Cite or prosecute an owner who interferes with a tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the property, threat, fraud, intimidates, coerces or duress a tenant, cut off utilities or communications to the residents, restricts delivery of services and goods. The owner would be guilty of a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000 or six months imprisonment or both.

For No Fault Just Cause, owners shall provide notice and relocation assistance, and provide written notice to the City of No-Fault Just Cause termination of tenancy no later than three days after providing a termination notice to residents. Regardless of the tenant’s income or length of tenancy, the owner must assist the tenant in relocation.

According to the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, the overall goal of the ordinance is to prevent the displacement of tenants who are not at fault, especially those who are susceptible to becoming homeless. Those in opposition to the ordinance, such as the Southern California Rental Housing Association, warned it could have unintended consequences for landlords such as having them fined or leaving them vulnerable to facing criminal charges for communicating with their tenants.

Chula Vista's Tenant Protection Ordinance only applies to the City of Chula Vista. The city of San Diego is currently working on a similar version of these protections.

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