CITY HALL — A plan that would strengthen rules that protect against evictions and extend protections to tenants who live in non rent-controlled units got the City Council’s initial approval last week, a step that could pave the way for the proposals to appear on a citywide ballot in November.
The proposals would extend basic eviction protections that tenants in rent-controlled buildings receive to all tenants in Santa Monica and would afford added eviction protections to senior citizens and those who are disabled or terminally ill.
Each of those proposals would require an amendment to the Rent Control Agency’s charter, said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky, which means they’ll have to receive support from a majority of voters to take effect. The City Council this summer will consider precise language for the amendments and is expected to approve placing them before voters in November’s election.
If adopted, the protections that would be extended to all Santa Monica tenants would affect the eviction process in cases where a landlord alleges a tenant has breached a contract, created a nuisance, refused to execute a written lease extension, damaged the premises or denied the landlord access to the rented unit.
The council also tentatively supported two other proposed changes to the rent control law last Tuesday that would not require charter amendments.
Those changes, which Radinsky said the council could enact by adopting new ordinances, would increase the amount tenants receive in relocation payments after an eviction and increase the amount of time tenants receive to correct lease violations before an eviction notice could be issued.
Though the landlord group Action Apartment Association has said it opposes the changes and may sue to block them, the proposals were considered non-controversial by the seven member City Council.
Councilman Kevin McKeown said while Santa Monica has a strong rent control law, it has fallen behind other cities in some areas of tenant protection.
“We have the best rent control law and will continue to have [the best law] of any city, but in many ways we’re just catching up to other cities on some of these other protections,” he said.