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Ellis Act Ordinance

The Ellis Act is a provision in California Law (Government Code section 7060-7060.7) that provides landlords in California with a legal way to go out of the rental market business. The Ellis Act was adopted by the California Legislature in 1985 after the California Supreme Court decision in the case of Nash v. City of Santa Monica.

On April 18, 2017, the City Council recommended the approval of the Ellis Act Ordinance. This ordinance applies to all apartments four units or more covered by the Apartment Rent Ordinance and provides requirements for landlords removing these apartments from the rental housing market. In San José, the most frequent use of the Ellis Act Ordinance would be the demolition and redevelopment of existing rent controlled housing.


On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, the City Council took action to amend the Ellis Act Ordinance, Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO), and Apartment Rent Ordinance (ARO). Over the past several months, we have worked with community and stakeholders to develop recommendations for these challenging issues. The following list the results from the City Council meeting regarding the Ellis Act Ordinance:

  • Re-control the greater of either 50% of new apartments built or the number of apartments removed from the market; 
  • May exempt re-control requirements if 20% of the new construction is voluntarily restricted affordable rental housing built on-site. 15% would meet the Area Median Income (AMI) levels required by the Inclusionary Ordinance and the additional 5% would be restricted to 100% AMI;  
  • Include apartments buildings with three units under the Ellis Act; and
  • Allow apartments built after 1979 to use the Ellis Act procedures to permanently remove a building from the rental market after providing 120-day notification and providing relocation services to impacted tenants; and
  • Return with proposed ordinance after analysis to extend Ellis Act to apply to duplexes.  

On Tuesday, May 8, the City Council passed the second reading of the amendment to the Ellis Act Ordinance


What to Expect for Tenants

Removal from Rental Market - Tenants

A property owner may recover possession of a rental unit either to demolish it or to remove it permanently from rental housing use.

If you receive an eviction notice from your landlord because your landlord wishes to take over the rental unit, you can expect the following:

  • You will receive a Notice to Withdraw that has been filed by your landlord.
  • Your case will be referred to the City’s Relocation Consultant to provide you support during your relocation.
  • The amount of relocation fees you may be entitled to will be determined.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

  • 120-Day Notice of Eviction: You are entitled to a 120-Day Notice of Eviction.
  • One-Year Extension: You may be entitled to a one-year extension from the date the landlord delivered the Notice of Intent to Withdraw if you are low-income, over the age of 62, disabled, terminally or catastrophically ill, or have school-aged children.

Relocation Assistance

You may be entitled to relocation assistance. The City’s Relocation Consultant will determine the amount of relocation benefits you are entitled to, otherwise the determination will be based on the information provided by your Landlord. To view more information about possible relocation amounts, please see the Ellis Act Fact Sheet for more details on the Ordinance

   Studio 1-Bedroom 2-Bedroom 3-Bedroom
 Base Assistance  $6,925 $8,400 $10,353  $12,414
 Qualified Assistance $2,770  $3,360 $4,141 $4,966
 Total Base + Qualified $9,695  $11,760 $14,494 $17,380

Interested in returning to the rental unit should it become available?

For units re-rented within five years, rent will be set at the rent paid when the Notice of Intent to Withdraw is given, escalated by the annual allowable rate for the number of years the unit was not occupied. For units re-rented after 10 years, tenants will have the right to return only. If apartments were demolished and rebuilt, tenants do not have a right to return to the newly constructed apartments.

What to Expect for Property Owners

Removal from Rental Market – Property Owners

The Ellis Act Ordinance allows a property owner seeking in good faith to recover possession of a rental unit and remove units from rental housing use if the property owner plans on demolishing or permanently withdrawing the units from the rental housing market.

What You Must Do

  • Noticing – All households must be provided with a minimum of 120 days’ notice. Special populations including residents over the age of 62, disabled, terminally/catastrophically ill, and residents with school-aged children must be given up to one-year notice.
  • Relocation Benefits – All tenants are eligible to receive relocation benefits. Special populations including low-income residents, residents over the age of 62, disabled, terminally/catastrophically ill, and residents with school-aged children are eligible for additional relocation benefits.
  • Right to Return – If the apartments return to the rental market within ten years, tenants have a right to return to their apartments. If the apartment is demolished and rebuilt, the right to return does not apply.
  • Subject to the Apartment Rent Ordinance – If a property owner demolishes existing rent controlled apartments, all new apartments built will be subject to the City’s Apartment Rent Ordinance.

For additional information on this Ordinance, see the staff presentationAlso, view the Ellis Act Fact Sheet for more details on the Ordinance.

Forms Overview & Instructions

Withdrawing Rental Units from the Housing Market

Landlords that choose to permanently remove residential rental units from the rental market must first meet with a Rental Rights and Referral Program Information Coordinator to review the process steps, assign a relocation specialist, pay related fees and begin the process of reporting as required by the City of San José. The following forms under the Ellis Act Process must be completed and provided, as appropriate per Ellis Act form instructions, to the City and tenants subject to eviction through the withdrawal process.