SANTA MONICA—The City of Santa Monica announced in a press release on Tuesday, November 14, that the City Council during its meeting on October 24, voted to support the Justice for Renters Act, a state ballot initiative set for the November 2024 ballot.
The initiative would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which places limits on municipal rent control ordinances. Under Santa Monica’s current rent control law it limits rent increases and evictions for tenants of approximately 27,000 apartments in the city built before the law went into effect in 1979.
Under Costa-Hawkins, landlords of those rent-controlled apartments are allowed to raise rents to market rate once a tenant moves out.
“The Costa Hawkins act has a very pernicious effect on our ability to control people’s financial ability to continue to live in Santa Monica,” said Mayor Gleam Davis. “The Justice for Renters Act will help local governments address some of the root causes of homelessness — skyrocketing rents and unaffordable housing.”
Rent Control Board records display that initial median rents for new tenants have rose each year since Costa-Hawkins went into effect. With the federal standard for affordability, a household would have required an income of at least $115,429 to afford a studio apartment in Santa Monica at the median rental rate set in 2022 for new tenancies.
The Santa Monica Rent Control was adopted by the voters in April 1979 in response to a shortage of housing units, low vacancy rates, and rapidly rising rents.
The law was aimed to alleviate the housing shortage and to ensure that owners received no more than a fair return.
The Rent Control Board and the Rent Control Agency focus on the following:
-Controlling the rent that may continue to be charged for a residential rental unit and providing remedies if excess rent is collected
-Determining the base amenities/services included in the rent and providing remedies for any reduction
-Limiting the grounds for eviction
-Limiting removal of units from the rental market
-Ensuring rental-property owners a fair return
For additional details on Santa Monica’s rent control program visit here.