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    News and Announcements

     
    The City of Santa Monica cares about your health and safety. We are working closely with the LA County Department of Public Health to monitor the novel coronavirus. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City of Santa Monica has closed City facilities to the public until further notice.   
       
     

    Required Notice Landlords Must Give Tenants Who Have Missed Rent Payments That Came Due Between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021

    Per the recently enacted COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act, landlords must serve this Notice to all tenants who, as of February 1, 2021, have not paid one or more rental payments that became due since March of last year through the end of June this year. The notice must be given to the tenants no later than February 28, 2021.
    Notice 2021-02-04
    https://landlordtenant.dre.ca.gov/pdf/forms/landlord/1179.04(b).pdf 
     

    Local and State Eviction Moratoria Continue


    Both the City of Santa Monica and the State of California have enacted protections that are designed to keep tenants in their homes during the COVID-19 health crisis. The state’s eviction moratorium applies only to nonpayment of rent. The city’s emergency orders apply to nonpayment of rent and other reasons for eviction. The complementary protections cover overlapping time periods as explained below.

    Under the city’s eviction moratorium, tenants have until September 30, 2021 to pay any rent deferred between March and September 2020 and have until April 1, 2022 to pay any rent deferred between February 1, 2021 and March 31, 2021. Tenants are required to provide written notices to their landlords when they cannot pay full rent, and landlords are required to provide tenants a statement of their rights under the city’s emergency order. The city’s orders also place a moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, such as nuisance, unauthorized occupants or denial of entry to a landlord and are in effect through March 31, 2021, unless extended.  

    On December 22, 2020, the City issued the thirty-first emergency supplement to the emergency order, which now requires landlords to report efforts to evict residential tenants by emailing the City Attorney’s Office at EMReports@smgov.net unredacted copies of any notices provided in an effort to evict, including any termination notice (for example, the 15-day notice required by the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020) or a Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer, within two days of serving any such notice on a tenant.

    Governor Newsom signed the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 on August 31, 2020. The state law essentially has two parts. First, it disallows eviction for nonpayment of rent of residential tenants who were unable to pay rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency. That unpaid rent is converted to civil debt. Second, it disallows eviction of tenants for nonpayment of rent that becomes due between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021, provided tenants declare their financial hardship in writing each time they receive a demand for rent payment and pay their landlords 25 percent of the rental payments due for this period by January 31, 2021. 

    On January 29, 2021, Governor Newsom signed legislation (SB 91) that further extends the state’s eviction moratorium until June 30, 2021. The legislation also provides rent subsidies up to $2.6 billion from federal funds to help landlords collect on unpaid rent from April of last year through March of this year. 

    Just as the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020 required tenants to pay at least 25 percent of the rent that came due from September 2020 through January 2021, the new legislation also requires tenants to pay at least 25 percent of their monthly rent from February through June 2021 to be protected. The legislation extends the deadline for minimum payments to June 30, 2021 for both periods. The minimum 25 percent owed may be paid either monthly or in a lump sum by that date. Tenants must also provide a statement of financial hardship, and unpaid rent converts to debt that is still owed but cannot be used as a reason for eviction.

    The legislation establishes the State Rental Assistance Program, which offers landlords the opportunity to collect on 80 percent of unpaid rent that came due from April 2020 to March of this year provided they agree to forgive the remaining amount owed and not seek eviction. Priority for rental assistance will first be given to very low-income tenant households earning up to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), then to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and finally, potential expansion to households earning up to 80% of AMI. If landlords refuse to forgive unpaid rent, income-qualified tenants who are most at-risk with unpaid back rent may apply for assistance amounting to 25 percent of the rent in arrears. 

    Property owners are required to notify tenants who owe back rent that assistance is available through this program. The notice must be provided by February 28, 2021 to all tenants who owe back rent. Failure to provide the notice prevents an owner from seeking an eviction against the tenant for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. Further, if the owner refuses to apply for the rental assistance, and the tenant would have qualified and funds are available, a judge may reduce any damages that might be awarded to the landlord in an action to collect unpaid rent.
     
    This is an abbreviated summary of these eviction moratoria, and tenants and landlords are encouraged to seek additional information on state law and legal advice where appropriate. Please continue to check here, as we hope to provide useful links to a form for the purpose of notifying tenants regarding the Rental Assistance Program as well as information regarding the application process. Additional information, FAQs, informational videos and more are available on the City’s COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium webpage.
             
     
     

    Recording of the 2020 Landlord-Tenant Forum Now Available

    The annual Landlord-Tenant Forum we hosted December 2nd with the Public Rights Division of the City Attorney’s Office and the City’s Planning Division on December 2nd was recorded and is now available here. The event featured important information on local and state eviction moratoria, new minimum lease terms, price gouging as well as updates on operations at Rent Control. Also included is an introduction to Rent 20/20, our new interactive information system currently under development. If you missed the event, this is a great opportunity to catch up on new laws affecting Santa Monica landlords and tenants.


    Fall Issue of Rent Control News in the Mail

     2020_Fall_Newsletter_Thumbnail

        
    All tenants and landlords of rent-controlled units were recently mailed our latest newsletter. The Fall issue of Rent Control News includes important information regarding COVID-19-related eviction moratoria, new leasing requirements, returning Rent Control Board commissioners and other news. An electronic version is available here.

    Todos los inquilinos y propietarios de unidades de alquiler controlado recibieron recientemente nuestro boletín informativo. Puede encontrar una versión electrónica en español aquí


     
       

    New Leasing Requirements for Rental Units

    On September 8, 2020 the City Council enacted new leasing requirements that apply to all rental units in Santa Monica.  The ordinance is available here.  The new rules went into effect on October 9, 2020 and require that all rental units adhere to the following rules:
    Units must be rented only to natural persons
    Units must be rented only to tenants intending the unit to be their primary residence
    Units must be rented for an initial term of not less than 1 year
    Units must be rented unfurnished
     
    These new regulations are intended to preserve Santa Monica’s rental housing stock for permanent residents in response to concern regarding loss of rental housing stock to corporations and persons who do not wish to make Santa Monica their primary residence.  

    On October 12, 2020, in response to community input, the City Council adopted amendments to the new leasing requirements. These include permitting an owner who occupies a rental housing unit as their primary residence to lease that unit for more than 30 days and less than a year no more than twice a year for a total period of less than six months. Also, leases necessitated for temporary tenant relocation would not need to comply with any of the four main aspects of the leasing requirements listed above. Council adopted other amendments as well. For more information on leasing requirements, read the staff report or visit the City Planning webpage.

       
     

    Rent Control Board Announces 2020 GA of 1.4% and $32 Cap

    At their June meeting, the Board announced a General Adjustment (GA) of 1.4%, effective September 1, 2020. The Board also approved a maximum increase of $32 that applies to all rents of $2,250 or above, according to a formula approved by voters. The GA applies to qualifying tenancies that began at least one year prior to September 1st of this year. The Rent Control Agency is mailing information about the GA to all property owners and tenants, who should receive it by the end of June. Property owners will also receive a Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy form that they may use to notify tenants of this year’s increase.

    In a separate mailing that also should arrive by the end of June, property owners will receive a bill for registration fees that must be paid no later than August 3rd. Fees can be paid online by clicking here or on the Online Bill Pay icon in the blue Quicklinks box on the right side of this page. Property owners are strongly encouraged to pay online to avoid late payment due to possible delays in mail service.
     

    Open Access to Rent Control Property Files

    We just opened online access to our property files via our Document Portal. Now, anyone can search by property address or parcel number all of the documents we have scanned dating back to 2005. You can also sort the documents by year or document type to find what you want. The portal includes tenancy registration forms, petitions, hearing officer and Board decisions, correspondence and more. We’re also working on providing documents from earlier years as well. Click here or on the Document Portal icon in the blue Quicklinks box on the right side of this page to give it a try.
     

    Rent Control Accepting Petitions, Exemption Applications & Excess Rent Complaints

    Although there was a temporary pause on the acceptance of new exemption applications, petitions and excess rent complaints due to the Declaration of Emergency related to the novel coronavirus, the closure of City Hall to the public, and the need to protect staff and the public, the Rent Control Office resumed these filings in early May. Petitions and applications may now be initiated by mail or email. Please call our office at 310-458-8751 to speak with an Information Coordinator before submitting your documents.

    Mediations and hearings on all applications or petitions filed will be conducted by teleconference or videoconference until the appropriate authorities advise that it is safe for in-person meetings and hearings to resume.

    Tenants submitting decrease petitions that include items requiring repairs inside the units must be willing to allow owners and/or their representatives to enter the unit to make the requested repairs. Tenants unwilling to allow entries to their units for the purpose of making repairs should omit those items from their petition. Alternately, they may consider waiting to file the petition until they are willing to allow access to their unit for repairs. (Note: Generally, a tenant may not file a new decrease petition within six (6) months of a final Board decision on a prior decrease petition.)

    Property owners should continue to register ownership changes by mailing the forms to our office and register new tenancies online here or by clicking the "Registering New Tenants" link to the right. Fee waiver applications may also be submitted by mail.
     

    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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