Search Backing sm logo for cpu
Public Rights Division

Permanent Relocation Assistance 

What is permanent relocation assistance?

Santa Monica law requires that landlords pay a fee to tenants who are forced to permanently move out of their homes, in some situations.


When is a tenant entitled to the relocation fee?

There are three situations that trigger permanent relocation benefits:

(1) The landlord takes the building off the rental market (Ellis Act);

(2) The landlord or a relative moves into the apartment (owner-occupancy); or

(3) The landlord seeks to demolish or otherwise remove the unit from rental use.

The fee does not apply in cases of earthquake or other natural disaster, or where relocation is necessary to comply with the City's retrofitting requirements.


For Ellis Act evictions, does the tenant have to be low-income to get the fee?

No. All tenants forced to move out under Ellis qualify, regardless of income.


What type of prior notice is required?

If tenants are forced to vacate due to one of the above reasons, the landlord has to give them prior written notice. The landlord also must give tenants a "Notice of Tenant Relocation Assistance and Statement of Rights." This must be on a City-provided form and state:

•  the tenant's rights and obligations under the law

•  that the relocation fee has been placed in an escrow account (or other account approved by the City), including the name of the escrow company, the amount in escrow, and the date the account was opened


How much is the relocation fee?

Effective July 1, 2021, the relocation fee is as follows:

                                           Relocation Fee                               Fee if Household Includes Senior/Disabled/Minor (See SMMC §4.36.040(d))

            Single                     $16,650                                                        $17,350

            1 bedroom              $22,900                                                        $24,450

            2+ bedroom            $31,850                                                         $33,950


● The fee is adjusted each July 1 according to the cost of living.

● For the latest figures, go to


If there is more than one tenant in an apartment, who gets the fee?

The total relocation fee is paid in one check. The tenants must divide it among themselves.


What if tenants disagree about how the fee should be divided?

They should try to work out the distribution themselves. If they can’t, they may seek help from the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which provides mediation services. 


When does the relocation fee have to be paid?

Within five days after the tenant moves out. 


Can a tenant use the money before moving out?

Yes. If a tenant needs the money to help pay for moving, he or she can request in writing that the landlord pay a third party. The landlord then must instruct the escrow holder to pay the third party all or a part of the relocation fee. The third party must receive payment within five days of the tenant's written request.


How does a tenant receive the fee?

The tenant receives the fee from an escrow account opened by the landlord. Before the landlord gives the tenant a notice terminating the tenancy, the landlord must place the relocation fee in an escrow account or other account approved by the City. Within two days after the tenant moves out, the landlord must instruct the escrow holder to give the remaining relocation fees in the escrow to the tenant.


If a tenant fights the eviction, does he or she lose the relocation fee?

No. A tenant does not give up any rights by contesting an eviction. If the tenant wins in court, there may be no eviction and no need for the relocation fee. If the tenant loses, the fee may be reduced by the amount of any court judgment.


Can a tenant stop paying rent after receiving an eviction notice, or apply the fee toward rent?

No. If a tenant withholds rent, or offsets rent against the relocation fees, the tenant might be sued for non-payment of rent. The tenant's duty to pay rent is separate from the landlord's duty to pay relocation fees; the two do not offset each other.


Can a landlord choose to not pay the relocation fee to a tenant?

Only if the landlord chooses to relocate the tenant into a comparable apartment. The landlord is still responsible for paying the tenant's moving costs. The new unit must be comparable to the old one in size, price, location, amenities, proximity to medical and recreational facilities as well as parks, community centers, shops, transportation, schools, churches and synagogues.


Are single family homes and condominiums subject to relocation assistance requirements?

Only single family homes and condominiums that are subject to rent control require relocation assistance.  For more information, contact the Rent Control Board (310-458-8751).


What if a tenant agrees to give up relocation benefits?

A tenant can't give up these rights. Any agreement between a landlord and tenant which gives up a tenant's right to relocation benefits is void and can't be enforced.


What should I do if my landlord refuses to pay me the fee?

You can call the City Attorney's Office at 310-458-8336. Also, you can sue the landlord in court. The court can award you the fee plus a $500 penalty, attorneys' fees, and other possible damages.


How can I get more information?

Call the City Attorney's Office at 310-458-8336.



printable pdf
























City of Santa Monica © 2021

1685 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90401