City of Santa Monica Tenant Protections

The information below is provided by Tenants Together, based partially on research conducted by the Urban Displacement Project, and was last updated in October 2018. For complete information on the City's tenant protections, please visit their website here.

Disclaimer: This website is for general information and none of the information provided constitutes legal advice. In addition, please note that ordinances are periodically updated, modified, or interpreted by regulations. We recommend contacting the City for the official version of its law in the event that you intend to rely on this information.

Rent control is effective at keeping people in their homes. Rent control policies limit rent increases and provide greater housing stability for tenants. Rent control ordinances in California allow landlords to set the initial rent in any amount, but limit rent increases after a tenancy begins.

Rent control is often combined with eviction protections, known as "just cause for eviction," to make sure that landlords do not get around the rent increase limits by simply evicting tenants arbitrarily and bringing in new tenants. Just Cause protections provide basic fairness and prevent retaliation, discrimination, and harassment proactively.


Rating 1
What protections does the City have? Both Rent Control and Just Cause Protections
Year Just Cause Orginally Adopted 1979
Year Most Recent Just Cause Amendment 2015
Year Rent Control Orginally Adopted 1979
Year Most Recent Rent Control Amendment 2015

Just Cause Protections Summary

What causes for eviction are considered just cause - tenant at-fault?
  • Nonpayment
  • Breach of olbigation or covenant of tenancy
  • Nuisance/substanital damage
  • Convicted of using unit for illegal purposes
  • Refused renewal of lease
  • Refusal to grant access
What causes for eviction are considered just cause - no-fault?
  • The tenant holding at the end of the term of the rental housing agreement is a subtenant not approved by the landlord
  • Owner/relative move-in
  • Demolition
  • Withdrawal of unit from rental market
Key Exemption Summary
  • All residential rental units in the City of Santa Monica, including mobile homes/trailers are eligible for Just Cause Protections
  • Single family homes that were not used for residential rental purposes on July 1, 1984 are exempt
  • Rental units and dwellings constructed after the adoption of this Article (April 10,1979)are exempt; this exemption does not apply to units created as a result of conversion as opposed to new construction.
Minimum tenancy for coverage? There is no minimum tenancy for coverage
Do Rent Control Protections apply to new construction? No. Protections only apply to buildings constructed before 4/10/1979
What triggers the obligation to pay relocation assistance?
  • Landlord seeks to withdraw all rental housing units from the rental housing market
  • Demolition
  • Owner/Relative Move-In
  • *Temprorary relocation assistance is given for temporary recovery of possession to correct code violations; housing unit is uninhabitable; or compliance with government order to vacate

Rent Control Protections Summary

What units are eligible for Rent Control and which are exempt?
  • Eligible units for RC: any unit built before 1979, residential
  • Non-eligible units for RC: Units built after 1979, single family homes
Banking Allowed? No
Does the landlord have to petition for additional rent increases? Yes
On what grounds can the landlord petition for additional rent increases? Petitions are often based on unusually high operating expenses not covered by the general adjustment (2% annual allowable rent increase), including completed or planned capital improvements.

Rent Board Summary

Does the City have a rent board? Yes
is the Rent Board appointed or elected? The Rent Board is elected and is self-funded and apart from the City thus they do not answer to City Council
Number of Units Covered by Rent Control 27,500 units are currently under rent control (6,500 more have potential for rent control coverage but are currently under temporary use exemptions
Number of Units Covered by Just Cause 41,500 (ACS Estimate)