CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Beginning on March 1, thousands of renters living in Chula Vista will have additional protections if their landlord is trying to evict them.
A new city-wide ordinance is set to go into effect on March 1, specifically aimed at tenants who face "no-fault" eviction, after paying their rent and abiding by the terms of their lease.
As these new rules go into effect, Chula Vista will have the strongest renter protections in the entire county. While some supporters say that they should go even further, many landlords counter that this new city ordinance goes too far.
"This is a great step in the right direction," said Gilberto Vera, senior attorney of the Housing Team at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, who specializes in landlord-tenant law.
Vera said these new protections in Chula Vista are specifically aimed at renters who face eviction for so-called "no fault" reasons, "which means these are tenants who are not doing anything wrong," Vera added. "They're current with their rent, they're not breaking any terms of their lease, but the law still allows the landlord to evict you."
These include tenants like Miriam Goff, who's part of the tenant-rights group ACCE.
Goff said her landlord has tried to evict her and other families in their complex, to renovate the units and ultimately charge more rent.
While most of her neighbors left, she fought the removal. and so far has managed to stay.
"You need to fight!," she told CBS 8. "I fight for three years, and I'm still here."
These new tenant protections will make it even more difficult to remove a tenant under 'no-fault' circumstances.
In the case of substantial renovations, the re-model will now have to be significant, costing at least $40 per square foot.
For tenants who've lived in a place longer than a year, 60 days notice is required, and landlords will also have to pay the tenant either two months of contract rent, or the market-rate according to HUD, whichever is greater.
For elderly and disabled tenants, that increases to three months.
"Essentially the relocation that you're getting is going to assist you to find something in the market," Vera said.
Many landlords though, especially of smaller-scale investment properties, are blasting these new rules.
"I think this is an overreach," said Richard D'Ascoli of the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors, speaking at a Chula Vista city council meeting.
"We can't afford to pay them three months, or however many months it is, to re-locate," added property owner Pat Russiano. "We are gong to take our investments somewhere else."
Vera countered that, nationwide, these protections in Chula Vista are "not revolutionary".
"They've existed in other cities for decades, larger cities, smaller cities.. and it hasn't led to mom-and-pop landlords being pushed out of the rental market," he said.
Free "Know Your Rights" workshops are organized by the City Heights CDC (San Diego Eviction Prevention Collaborative). The workshops are conducted in English, Spanish and others. For more information, click here.
Tenants can contact the Legal Aid Society of San Diego at 1-877-LEGAL AID (1-877-534-2524)
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