Santa Monica homeowners and renters can now view the proposed revisions to the city’s medium-term leasing ordinance, which is expected to be amended when City Councilmembers meet Tuesday.
In an effort to keep developers from exploiting loopholes in current laws, Council introduced new leasing requirements in August that required all residential rental properties in the city to be rented unfurnished to natural persons who intend to occupy the unit as their primary residence for longer than a year.
“Due to the far-reaching applicability of the ordinance, public correspondence was received in the wake of the ordinance’s passage requesting consideration for a variety of scenarios,” a staff report for Tuesday’s meeting reads. “The written comments have been largely from homeowners who are concerned about losing their ability to temporarily rent their home when they are on vacation, sabbatical, home swap or other reasons. They have communicated that they rent their homes, often furnished and for at least 31 days, and these occasional rentals are a source of income that allows them to continue to live in Santa Monica.”
Students looking to rent only for the length of the school year, patients needing temporary medical care and Santa Monica residents displaced due to emergency repairs were also cited as reasons why the city should continue allowing medium-term rentals.
“Staff reviewed the correspondence regarding various exemption scenarios but is not proposing exemptions for different potential users of ‘medium-term’ housing as it is challenging to carve out exceptions for different users without creating inadvertent loopholes thereby undermining Council’s objective to curtail temporary leasing activity,” the report states. “Therefore, in response to public input — but still keeping within the spirit of Council’s direction to continue to ensure strong protections against permanent multi-unit housing stock being used for temporary rentals,” staff proposed a few exemptions to the new ordinance.
Owner-occupied Residential Units
This amendment would enable an owner-occupied unit to be rented for less than one year if the primary resident who rents the unit intends to return at the end of the lease to again occupy the residence, staff said. “The unit would be allowed to be rented furnished and there would be no requirement that the tenant use and occupy the unit as their primary residence… This would allow for reasonable use of single-unit dwellings and condominiums,” and also provide a potential housing option for Santa Monica residents who may temporarily need to vacate their homes due to emergency repairs, remodels, and similar situations.
Accessory Dwelling Units
If Council were to approve staff’s recommendations, Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units would also receive an exemption from the recently-enacted law, meaning there would be no limitation on the number of times in a year an ADU or JADU could be rented as long as owners of the property live on-site for the duration of the lease.
“Owners would be permitted to rent out an ADU or JADU for a term of more than 30 days but less than one year,” the report states, adding: “The proposed exemption would not modify the existing prohibition against renting out an ADU for a term of less than 30 days…”
The proposed tenant relocation exemption seeks to address an inadvertent conflict of the new leasing requirements by allowing medium-term rentals to be leased to tenants who are subject to relocation provisions in the Municipal Code.
“Leases in this specific circumstance would not need to comply with any of the four main aspects of the leasing requirements,” the report states, “and would further a landlord’s ability to relocate tenants to comparable temporary rental housing within the City.”
To view the full agenda for the upcoming meeting, which is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, visit http://bit.ly/SMleasing.