In November, more than 60% of voters voted “No” on Measure M, defeating the ballot-measure that proposed Just Cause For Eviction and Rent Control regulations in the City of Santa Cruz. However, residents of the City also elected three new council members, each of whom campaigned for rent control and just-cause eviction tenant protections leading up to the election.
On Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 the new City Council voted to pass an “interim” Just Cause for Eviction ordinance. During a Council meeting held on January 23rd, the City Council elected to table the ordinance due to a large amount of community feedback opposing the measure. We will continually update this post as more information is released. You can find more details about the proposed ordinance below.
At the same January 8th meeting, the City Council approved an amendment to the ordinance labeled Relocation Assistance For Displaced Tenants. Under the ordinance amendment, if a landlords raise the rent more than 5% in one year or cumulatively more than 7% in any two consecutive years, the tenant will be eligible for two months’ fair market value rent as posted by HUD or the tenant’s actual rent, whichever is higher. You can see a redlined version of the ordinance here to see what has changed. A very important note about this amendment: the Council states that this is not technically rent control and that it can therefore be applied to all rental property including single-family homes and condos.
Summary of “An Interim Ordinance Of The City Council Of The City Of Santa Cruz Requiring Just Cause For Tenant Evictions Within The City”
The proposed ordinance, labeled “An Interim Ordinance Of The City Council Of The City Of Santa Cruz Requiring Just Cause For Tenant Evictions Within The City” will dictate when landlords can, and cannot, evict tenants. You can find the proposed ordinance here and a summary, including a recorded video of the City Council Meeting, here (click 2019, and the meeting dated 1/8/19). We’ve provided a summary of its contents and other pertinent details below.
If voted into law, under the proposed ordinance Landlords can only evict a Tenant if one of the following “just causes” is present:
- The tenant fails to pay rent – this point is straightforward.
- There is a substantial breach of lease – if the tenant breaches the lease, the landlord must first serve a written Notice to Cease, and if the tenant continues to substantially violate material terms of the housing lease, then the landlord may evict the tenant. There is a MAJOR exception to this point: the landlord may NOT evict a tenant because of a Tenant’s sublease of the Rental Unit so long as:
- the rental unit is the primary residence of the original tenant;
- the sublessee replaces one or more departed tenants under a valid rental agreement on a one-for-one basis. If a child or family member of the tenant is added to the household, the landlord may not use this as a cause for eviction unless such an addition exceeds the maximum number of occupants allowable under Section 503(b) of the Uniform Housing Code;
- the landlord either did not respond to or has refused to accept a Tenant’s request to sublease based on reasons stated in the ordinance (see page 4, 2.a.iii).
- The tenant permits or commits a nuisances, or causes substantial damage to the Landlord’s rental unit.
- The tenant engages in Criminal Activity.
- The tenant fails to give the landlord access as required by law.
- If the landlord needs to make necessary and substantial repairs that will take longer than 30 days, the landlord can ask the tenant to leave, but must give him or her the first right of refusal for the same or another comparable unit at the same rent.
- If the landlord intends to move a family member into the unit, with certain restrictions (you can find these in point 7 of page 5).
- If the landlord intends to withdraw the unit from the rental market.
If a landlord fails to to comply with any requirements of this Ordinance, including the failure to serve any required notices, the tenant can take legal action to recover possession of the Rental Unit. If the tenant wins his or her case, the landlord will be liable for “reasonable attorney’s fees and costs”.
According to Santa Cruz Together, a couple of changes were made to the draft ordinance at the January 8th meeting:
- If the owner lives on the same property, it is exempt from the Just Cause for Eviction laws above. If approved in the next meeting, this change will be advantageous for those with ADUs or duplexes.
- Partner was legally defined as registered domestic partner. However renters can still move in other family members without owner permission, beyond the number on a lease, and up to the federal occupancy limit.
A Timeline of the Proposed Ordinance
If this ordinance is voted into law at the next Council meeting, that day will become its “Effective Date”. It will take effect 30 days following its final adoption, but will apply retroactively on or after December 11th, 2018 and will automatically terminate 90 days from its Effective Date.
We have been following the proposals of and legislative processes related to rent control, just cause for eviction, and large rent increase laws in the City of Santa Cruz closely. If you are a property owner or investor in the Santa Cruz City limits, and would like to discuss your options, feel free to contact me: (831) 600-6550, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about the new Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance? Fill out the Form Below and We’ll Be in Touch Shortly.
Disclaimer: this information is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this post. Accordingly, this information is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or tax advice or services.
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