City of Santa MonicaRent Control Department1685 Main St., Room 202Santa Monica, CA 90401(310) 458-8751Email the Rent Control Board
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The Santa Monica Rent Control Law has been in effect since April 10, 1979. The Rent Control Board and its staff work to advance the Rent Control Law’s basic goals, including:
The Board and its staff administer the law and provide assistance to tenants, property owners and other interested members of the public regarding rent control matters. This fact sheet highlights basic information about the law for current and prospective residential property owners in Santa Monica. It is not intended as legal advice or as a substitute for reading the Rent Control Law and regulations.
Most residential rental buildings in the city constructed prior to April 10, 1979 (and some units constructed after that date) are covered by Rent Control. In addition to apartment buildings, rent control may also apply to single-family homes and condominiums, depending on the unit's history.
To check on the Rent Control status, rent levels and/or amenities of a specific property, contact a Rent Control Information Analyst at (310)458-8751.
Registration forms must be filed under the following circumstances:
Within 30 days of a change in ownership or title, the new owner needs to file a Change of Ownership Registration form with the Board. If the owner's mailing address changes, an amendment to the registration form advising the Board of the new mailing address must be filed within 30 days. It is important that the Board have the owner's correct mailing address for timely receipt of communications, legal notices and annual registration fee bills.
As of January 1, 1999, owners may rent most units to new tenants for market rates. In negotiating the initial rent for tenancies starting after January 1, 1999, owners may offer whatever amenities they choose, without regard to the amenities that previously came with the unit. The amenities provided when the unit is rented will remain the unit’s amenities for the duration of the tenancy. New tenancies must be registered with the Board within 30 days of re-rental on a form provided by the Board.
An annual registration fee is charged to all owners of rent-controlled property. The fees finance the operations of the Rent Control Agency. Registration fee bills are mailed to all owners by July 1 of each year, and payment is due by August 1. Owners who pay their fees on time may recover the cost by adding a prorated surcharge to their tenants' monthly rents. Fees not paid by the due date may not be collected from the tenants at any time. Owners who have not received their bills by July should contact the Rent Control office.
The MAR, along with certain allowable surcharges, is the maximum legal rent that a property owner may charge for a controlled rental unit. The rent control staff can provide the current MAR according to the Board’s records for any controlled rental unit. It is possible to look up MARs on the Rent Control Board's website at: www.smgov.net/rentcontrol
The Rent Control Law limits the reasons a tenant may be evicted. Some causes for eviction arise from actions (or inactions) of the tenant. These are considered "tenant fault" evictions and include things like: failing to pay the rent, violating an important condition of the rental agreement, or causing a substantial nuisance.
There are also lawful eviction situations in which the tenant is not at fault. "No fault" evictions include things like the owner wants to occupy the apartment or is electing to get out of the rental housing business. Most "no-fault" evictions require the owner to pay relocation assistance to the displaced tenants.
Owners who find themselves in situations where evictions are necessary should consult an attorney. There are specific legal requirements that must be followed in order to complete an eviction properly.
For more information on evictions, contact the Rent Control office and request the handout on evictions and applicable regulations.
The Rent Control Law also allows tenants to request rent decreases when property owners do not maintain their rental property or limit housing services or amenities. For more information on maintenance of rental properties and other topics not covered in this information sheet, please contact the Rent Control office and speak with an Information Analyst. In addition to answering questions, they can send you information sheets on the following topics:
Chapter 13, Registration
Chapter 4, Individual Rent Adjustments
Frequently Asked Questions
Maintenance and Apartment Repairs
Rents, Registration Fees and Surcharges
Registration Fee Waivers
Look Up a Rent