By Mercedes Shaffer l Published in AAOC Magazine
(Article on P 40)
Santa Ana’s Just Cause Eviction Ordinance states that, “Criminal activity by the tenant on the residential real property, including any common areas, or any criminal activity or criminal threat…on or off the residential real property, that is directed at any Owner or agent of the Owner or other tenants of the residential real property (is cause for eviction). This at-fault, just cause provision shall apply if the Owner has, within a reasonable time, reported the criminal activity to law enforcement. Further, at -fault, just cause eviction of a tenant under this provision shall only apply to that tenant who committed the criminal activity described herein.”
In other words, if a tenant commits a crime, you can only evict that tenant, not their family or roommates. Did the City Council think things through when they adopted this ordinance? Under these conditions, it would take a tremendous amount of time and resources for a property owner to enforce that the criminal does not return to the property to “visit” or live with their family or roommates. This person is after all a criminal and does not abide by the rules, so this puts the owner and other residents at risk and makes the residential housing in Santa Ana unsafe for everyone.
Typically if a resident commits a crime, everyone living in the unit is evicted. So what if the crime is committed by a minor? Under this rule does the property manager only evict the minor, and if so, where would the minor live? What if the crime is committed by the “head-of-the-household” and the remainder of the tenants wouldn’t qualify financially to pay the rent on their own? How does this work financially?
There are no stipulations in place to protect the property owner’s safety or financial security. The City Council created this law without requiring the remaining tenants to prove that they qualify financially to pay the rent on their own nor do they have to sign an agreement that they will forbid the criminal from entering their premises. This places the burden on the property owner to assure that the tenant who committed the crime does not return, which could have grave consequences for innocent residents if the evicted tenant is a drug dealer, a rapist, physically abusive or someone who has threatened to kill a resident or property manager. Common sense tells you that the criminal is going to return to the property if his/her family and friends still live in the building, and they have nothing to lose if they are caught housing the evicted criminal.
One of the city of Santa Ana’s stated reasons for adopting this ordinance is that “The City Council finds and determines that regulating the relations between residential landlords and tenants will increase certainty and fairness within the residential market within the city and thereby serve the public peace, health and safety.”
I don’t believe that the ordinance achieves its stated purpose. Instead, I think the ordinance makes Santa Ana a safe haven for families and friends of criminals and fosters unsafe communities. It also unfairly takes away the ability of housing providers to run their own business and is likely to drive away investment in Santa Ana. What do you think?
If you think this is unjust, write the City Council members of Santa Ana and let them know.
If you have questions or comments I can be reached by phone or text at 714.330.9999, by email at InvestingInTheOC@gmail.com or visit my website at www.InvestingInTheOC.com. Mercedes Shaffer is a real estate agent with Pacific Sotheby's International Realty and specializes in helping clients buy and sell real estate and perform 1031 Exchanges. DRE 02114448.