San Diego Residential Protections Ordinance2023-10-18T23:02:40+00:00

Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance (RTPO)

San Diego’s Residential Tenant Protections Ordinance (RTPO) went into effect on June 24, 2023. In many ways, this law mirrors the California Tenant Protection Act (TPA) enacted on January 1, 2020. However, as is true with most state laws, cities and municipalities typically have free reign to pass more restrictive, but not less restrictive, local ordinances. That’s exactly what San Diego has done with the RTPO.

Purpose & Goals

The City of San Diego has a vested interest in providing protections for its residential tenants facing eviction. Strong protections for residential renters are intended to help prevent homelessness and promote housing/neighborhood stability.  

To Whom Does the City Law Apply? 

The general rule is the RTPO applies to all residential Tenants and Landlords in the City of San Diego. However, there are several exceptions as listed below in short form:  

  1. Hotels  
  2. Short term rentals (30 days or fewer) 
  3. Deed restricted/affordable housing 
  4. Subsidized housing for low income 
  5. Mobile homes 
  6. Nonprofit hospitals, religious facilities, extended care facilities 
  7. Dormitories  
  8. Landlord’s primary residence (including duplex) 
  9. Residential properties in unincorporated areas of San Diego County 
  10. Rental property that is alienable/separate from the title to any other dwelling 

Exception #10 should be interpreted broadly to exclude many smaller individual Landlords owning single family homes, townhomes or condominiums (one dwelling/title). Multi-unit properties (2-dwellings or more) and large apartment complexes (same title/owner for multiple units) are not excluded.  

Just Cause Required to Terminate Tenancy  

Landlords may only evict a Tenant if “just cause” exists. The RTPO delineates two forms of “just cause”:  

  1. At Fault Just Cause  

Landlords may terminate a Tenancy for At-Fault Just Cause if:  

  • Tenant has not or is not paying rent 
  • Tenant violates a material term of the lease 
  • Tenant commits or allows a nuisance 
  • Tenant causes substantial damage to the property 
  • Tenant refuses to extend or renew the lease on similar terms 
  • Tenant engages in criminal activity  
  • Tenant violates the lease by subletting 
  • Tenant refuses to allow the Landlord rightful access to the property 
  • Tenant uses the property unlawfully  
  • Tenant fails to return possession of the property after intending to vacate 
  1. No Fault Just Cause

Landlords may terminate a Tenancy for No-Fault Just Cause if:  

  • Landlord seeks to take possession of the property for the Landlord or immediate relative (specific lease term required)  
  • Landlord desires to remove the property from the market 
  • Landlord needs to take possession of the property to comply with a court order to vacate the property 
  • Landlord seeks to take possession of the property to demolish or substantially remodel the property 

Landlord Requirements for No-Fault Just Cause Evictions 

Landlord must comply with the following if there is No Fault Just Cause 

  1. Provide written notice to the Tenant 30/60 days before the proposed end of tenancy indicating a reason for the lease expiration and Tenant’s right to relocation assistance. 
  2. Landlord must, either by direct payment or rent waiver, compensate Tenant two months of actual rent. This is three months for senior or disabled tenants. 
  3. Provide Tenant with a statement about the right to renew tenancy if property is offered again for rent within five years of eviction.  
  4. Landlord shall notify San Diego Housing Commission within three business days after providing the required termination notice to the Tenant.  


The City of San Diego has significantly increased Tenant protections. In return, there are additional requirements for Landlords. This is not an exhaustive list of all mandated procedures and actions. The nuances and intricacies of these new laws are substantial and deserve a case-by-case analysis. Contact us now to better understand your rights and responsibilities