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  • Overview
  • Increasing Housing Supply
  • Dedicated Funding Sources
  • Land Use Regulation and Approval Reforms
  • Inclusionary Zoning
  • Regional Housing Target Enforcement
  • Ending and Preventing Homelessness
  • Systems-Level Racial Equity Analysis
  • Emergency Response Resources
  • Housing First
  • Master Leasing
  • Household and Community Protections
  • “Just Cause” Eviction Laws
  • Anti-Gouging Rent Regulations
  • Strategic Code Enforcement
  • Community Benefit Agreements
  • Community Power-Building
  • Community Ownership
  • Alliance and Coalition Building
  • Community Organizing
  • Tenant Organizing
  • Opportunity and Wealth
  • Mobility Assistance Programs
  • Rent Reporting
  • Reparations
  • Fair and Equitable Appraisals
  • Acknowledgments
  • “Just Cause” Eviction Laws


    The rising costs of housing, an affordable housing shortage, and lack of tenant protections have led to a growing number of evictions. Households led by women of color are the most likely group to face an eviction filing, and residents of color and those with low incomes also face disproportionately higher rates of evictions. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these challenges and placed greater emphasis on the need for financial and legal aid and other protections for renters.

    Many states and localities do not require landlords to provide a reason when filing an eviction, also known as a “no cause” eviction. In these cases, tenants have little to no power to challenge the eviction. A landlord can file for an eviction even when they have taken illegal actions against the tenant, including ignoring maintenance requests, locking tenants out, or shutting off utilities. Residents often experience discrimination, retaliation for filing complaints, and gouging rent increases to force them out. Such abuses come with an ongoing cost for tenants. Past evictions detected in tenant screenings can severely inhibit residents’ ability to secure housing, limiting them to lower-quality housing options and increasing their risk of homelessness.

    “Just cause” eviction laws help to prevent wrongful evictions and promote housing stability for renters. These laws limit the causes for which a landlord can evict a tenant or refuse to renew a lease. These laws clearly define the “just” causes for eviction, setting a minimum standard that must be met for an eviction to take place. They can benefit renters by preventing evictions that result from no fault of their own, limiting evictions from being weaponized as a tool for intimidation and retaliation, and empowering renters to seek improved living conditions. 

    This protection can be bolstered by right-to-counsel legislation and eviction diversion programs. In the US, 90 percent of landlords have legal representation in eviction cases, compared with only 10 percent of tenants. Right-to-counsel legislation can help ensure tenants’ interests are more fairly represented and rights are protected during eviction proceedings. Eviction diversion efforts can limit default judgments that often occur when the resident does not appear for a court date. Diversion models can include a mandatory mediation component, allowing residents and landlords the chance to come to an agreement before an eviction is filed. Mediation can ensure that landlords are considering residents’ needs during negotiations. Overall, more equitable proceedings can lead to restorative outcomes for everyone involved and reduce the potential consequences of eviction and displacement.

    Examples of This Strategy in Action

    • Five states—California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington—have enacted just cause eviction laws. Washington passed HB 1236 in 2021 to prevent arbitrary ending of leases and to define good causes for eviction. Previously, landlords could end month-to-month leases with 20 days’ notice and provide no reason. Now, landlords must provide a reason in written notice. The law defines 15 “good” reasons that may be used for both lease termination and eviction.
    • Numerous localities—including Baltimore, Maryland; Oakland, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota—have passed just cause eviction laws or have considered introducing similar regulations. St. Paul passed the ordinance Stable, Accessible, Fair, and Equitable (SAFE) Homes in 2020 in response to housing challenges experienced by low-income residents of color and threats to housing security during the pandemic. The law establishes 10 reasons, or “just causes,” that landlords must meet in order to follow through with eviction proceedings. 



    Next intervention: Anti-Gouging Rent Regulations