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    2018 Annual Report

    2018_Annual_ReportThe Santa Monica Rent Control Board has released the 2018 Annual Report summarizing developments during the year along with the most comprehensive and current information about controlled rental housing in Santa Monica. The report has four parts: Status of Controlled Rental Housing; Impact of Market-Rate Vacancy Increases; Impact of the Ellis Act; and Departmental Overviews. Included in the annual report are analyses of initial median rent levels set in 2018 for units of various sizes and by city areas, the impact of market-rate rents on affordability, and where withdrawals of units under the Ellis Act have reduced the controlled housing supply the most.

    Among the notable findings are the following:

    • At year end, there were 27,445 units currently subject to the rent control law. Thousands more are potentially subject to the law when exemptions lapse or the units are rented.
    • 25% of controlled units are still occupied by tenants who moved in before 1999.
    • 30% of controlled units are occupied by tenants who moved in since 2016.
    • Median initial rents for units of all sizes rented in 2018 were the highest ever recorded. The median initial rent for a one-bedroom unit was $2,395.
    • An income of more than $100,000 would be needed for a 4-person household to afford a one-bedroom or larger unit if rented at median market rates.
    • A net 2,222 units have been withdrawn from Santa Monica’s rental housing market by owners using the Ellis Act to go out of the rental housing business.
    • Ellis withdrawals, as a percentage of units by city area, were highest downtown (33%) and lowest in the Pico neighborhood (3%).
    • Staff assisted more than 13,500 landlords, tenants and others requesting information or services during the year.
    • The number of petitions filed in 2018 by tenants claiming landlords had removed amenities or reduced services was the highest in 10 years – 97 petitions.
    • 77% of excess rent claims filed in 2018 were resolved in mediation.
    • Based on filings with the Board, the average amount of voluntary buyout agreements executed in 2018 was $54,611.

    The full 2018 Santa Monica Rent Control Board Annual Report is available HERE to view or download.

    Register Now for Fair Housing Workshop on April 23

    Provided during National Fair Housing Month, the Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection Division is joining forces again with four local groups to sponsor Fair Housing Issues in Rental Housing. This workshop is part of an ongoing effort to increase awareness of the fair housing laws and to help eliminate housing discrimination in the city. Co-sponsors include the Rent Control Board, Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, Apartment Association of Great Los Angeles (AAGLA) and the ACTION Apartment Association.

    Equal_HousingThe workshop will explain the laws that prohibit housing discrimination, and there will be separate panels on the issues of gentrification, disability, and the Section 8 program. Presenters include Chancela Al Mansour, Executive Director of the Housing Rights Center; Shanley Hopkins, law partner at Kimball, Tirey & St. John; Denise McGranahan, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles; Lucie Loach, Housing Authority Administrator at the Santa Monica Housing Authority; and Gary Rhoades, a Deputy City Attorney of the City of Santa Monica.

    All owners, property managers, tenants, advocates, and attorneys are invited to RSVP today and attend free of charge. A continental breakfast will be provided, and library parking will be validated.

    The event is Tuesday, April 23 from 9 AM to 12:30 PM (8:30 AM check-in) at the Santa Monica Main Public Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd.). Please reserve your spot HERE. Space is limited so please register early. Online registration ends on April 19, 2019 at 9:00 PM.

    To request a disability-related accommodation such as a sign-language interpreter or alternate format, please contact Johanna Rodriguez By April 11, 2019 at (310) 458-8691 or

    Maintenance Seminar and Landlord-Tenant Forum Videos Now Online

    2018_Forum_PhotoDid you miss one of our recent seminars? Both the Rental Property Maintenance Seminar, co-presented with staff of the City’s Code Enforcement Division, and the Landlord-Tenant Forum, co-presented with the City Attorney’s Office, were recorded by CityTV and are available on our Seminars page. The Maintenance Seminar video will give you a broad understanding of what must be maintained under the rent control law and municipal code and the remedies available when there is a lack of maintenance. The Landlord-Tenant Forum video will keep you up to date with the latest regulations regarding the limitation on pass-through of property-tax-related surcharges, buyout offers, eviction protections, and tenant harassment, among other subjects. There is also a lengthy question and answer session at the end covering a variety of topics. Each video is indexed to allow you to skip to the sections of greatest interest to you.

    Property-Tax-Related Surcharges

    In some instances, in addition to the MAR and one-half of the Rent Control registration fee, owners may charge tenants a pro rata (proportionate) share of some of the property taxes they pay. The surcharges are limited to five line-items on the owner's property tax bill which result from ballot measures approved by Santa Monica voters in prior elections. Surcharges may be passed-through if all the following are true:

    • The tenancy began before March 1, 2018;
    • The property value was not reassessed on or after March 1, 2018 due to a sale or voluntary improvements, and;
    • The owner properly noticed the tenant which includes providing a copy of the property tax bill to the tenant - unless the only tax being passed through is the School District Parcel Tax (see below).

    IMPORTANT! If the property value is reassessed on or after March 1, 2018 due to a sale or voluntary improvements, the owner may no longer pass through these property-tax-related surcharges to any tenant.

    The five line-items below may be passed through if the conditions above are true:
    • Community College Bond
    • Unified Schools Bond
    • Stormwater Management User Fee
    • Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax
    • School District Special Tax
    Click here for more information on surcharges and related rent control regulations.

    Owners Must Disclose Tenant Rights Prior to Making Buyout Offers and Submit Agreements to Rent Control

    In Santa Monica, landlords and their agents are required to give tenants a notice of certain rights before offering any form of compensation in exchange for a tenant's agreement to voluntarily vacate a controlled rental unit. The Notice of a Tenant's Rights with Respect to a Buyout Offer is available at the Board's office and here. Landlords are required to file copies of all buyout agreements with the Rent Control Board no sooner than 31 days, and no later than 60 days, after the agreement has been signed by all parties. If a landlord fails to follow these requirements, a tenant may cancel the buyout agreement.

    Tenants are under no obligation to accept buyout offers and should realistically evaluate whether any amount offered is sufficient to make up for the loss of a controlled rental unit. Additional information about buyouts and average amounts of buyout agreements filed with Rent Control since 2015 are available here by year, city area and unit size. You can also download a full spreadsheet of recorded buyout agreements.


    OWNERS: Register New Tenancies Online

    Property owners and their authorized agents may now file Tenancy Registration forms online. No longer are owners required to bring or mail paper forms to the Rent Control office each time a new tenancy is registered. Instead, owners may register new tenancies right from this website. Forms are submitted electronically, and when they are received, we'll send confirmation by email. No more guessing if we received the form. Online filing saves postage, paper and time. Visit our Registering New Tenants and Amenities page for more information.

    Owners Must Provide Rent Control Info Sheet to All New Tenants

    Recognizing that knowledge may lead to more effective communications, the Rent Control Board recently adopted a regulation requiring that for all tenancies starting on or after July 31, 2017, landlords must give new tenants a Board-produced information sheet about the Rent Control Law at the time of lease signing.

    The single-sheet document contains rent control basics including information about rent levels and rent increases, eviction protections, maintenance and repairs, and base amenities. It also includes information on other important issues affecting Santa Monica tenants and landlords such as home-sharing, smoking restrictions, harassment, and construction work in occupied buildings. Tenants are encouraged to acknowledge receipt of the information sheet by signing and dating the form. If a landlord fails to provide the information sheet to a tenant at the beginning of a tenancy, the landlord will not be able to implement the general adjustment for the unit until they comply with the requirement.

    The information sheet can be downloaded here, but it will also be mailed to all landlords at the end of June. Additional copies can be picked up at the Rent Control Office in Room 202 of City Hall.

    Electronic Communications Sign-Up

    In keeping with the goals of a sustainable Santa Monica, the Rent Control Agency is giving people who receive communications from the Agency the option of having future communications that are available electronically delivered by email. To sign up to receive Rent Control communications electronically, click here.
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