At its meeting on May 8, the Santa Monica City Council approved an ordinance to enhance tenant protections for students and educators facing no-fault evictions during the school year. These new protections will help provide continuity of education for families with school-age children and educators living in Santa Monica.

Councilmembers Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown initiated the protections at Council’s February 27, 2018 meeting after a similar law in San Francisco was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeal.

“Education disruption brings immense challenges to young children and families if they are evicted or if their teacher faces eviction,” said Councilmember Sue Himmelrich. “This ordinance aligns with the City’s values and commitment to tenant rights as well as our strategic goals to maintain and inclusive and diverse community and to promote opportunities to learn and thrive.”

The defense would be available in the event of a no-fault eviction when:

A child under the age of 18 or any educator resides in the unit, the child or educator is a tenant in the unit or has a custodial or family relationship with a tenant in the unit, the tenant has resided in the unit for 12 months or more and the effective date of the notice of termination of tenancy falls during the school year.

“Just as Santa Monica protects seniors and persons with disabilities from sudden evictions through no fault of their own, now we’ll protect children and those who teach them,” said Councilmember Kevin McKeown. “This provides crucial stability to young students, for whom a sudden move in the middle of a school year is incredibly disruptive, and furthers the City’s commitments to renters’ rights, to maintaining an inclusive and diverse community, and to making sure all Santa Monicans enjoy the best possible opportunities to learn and thrive.”

The proposed ordinance also makes clerical changes to the Santa Monica Municipal Code regarding tenant protections by creating a new category or chapter called Tenant Protections. This will make important tenant information easier to find.

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, enforces tenant harassment and antidiscrimination laws, and provides community education related to tenants’ and consumers’ rights. Through their work, they have seen cases where families face no-fault evictions, which is supported by cases seen by Rent Control. These come as the housing affordability crisis has intensified. No-fault evictions occur when tenants are evicted based on no fault of their own but due to a property owner’s decision to occupy the property or exit the rental market. 

“This new ordinance will protect Santa Monica students and educators from being uprooted from their homes during the school year when they and their families have done nothing wrong,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office looks forward to educating the community about this new protection in time for the next school year.”

The City Attorney’s Office will begin community outreach and education about these new protections after Council’s second reading of the ordinance. To learn more about their work, visit https://www.smgov.net/consumer.

Submitted by Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer

 

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