Rent increases for rent-controlled apartments in Santa Monica will be limited to 1.4% this year and the Rent Control Board could approve a maximum monthly increase of $32 for renters who pay $2,250 or more in rent.
The proposed rent adjustment, which will go into effect Sept. 1, is slightly less than last year’s 2% increase and $44 cap. The percentage increase the board approves each year is determined by a formula in the city charter, but the board may also choose to set a dollar increase cap based on a separate formula. The Rent Control Board will vote on the dollar increase next month.
In 2018, the maximum allowable rent hike was 2.9% with a $60 ceiling.
This year, both rent-controlled and market-rate tenants will be protected from eviction under an emergency order the city of Santa Monica issued in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.
The temporary evictions ban has since been extended to June 30. Tenants will have 12 months to repay any unpaid rent rather than the six months set by the original order.
Landlords are required to notify tenants of the evictions moratorium, and tenants must provide written notice to their landlords that explain how they have been financially impacted by COVID-19.
The order prohibits landlords from forcing tenants to enter into a payment plan for unpaid rent.
Board chair Nicole Phillis asked rent control staff to explore the possibility of freezing rents under emergency circumstances.
“At a minimum, we owe it to the public to be talking about it because other jurisdictions … are talking about it,” she said. “We should at least be addressing it in a pandemic.”
Staff will prepare an analysis of a possible rent freeze for the board’s June 11 meeting.
Additionally, the Rent Control Board is surveying renters and property owners on how COVID-19 is impacting their ability to pay their rent or mortgage.