Revisions to Santa Monica’s recently adopted leasing requirements were passed by City Councilmembers this week, allowing local homeowners to rent their homes for less than a year as long as they meet certain criteria.
Council first tackled medium-term rentals in August when it adopted an ordinance mandating all residential rental properties in the city must be rented unfurnished to natural persons, who intend to occupy the unit as their primary residence for longer than a year.
Mayor Kevin McKeown said the ordinance sent an unmistakable message to the large corporations who often found ways to exploit loopholes in the city’s laws. However residents and students voiced their objections to the rules before they came into effect at the beginning of this month.
In response to community input, Council adopted multiple amendments to the medium-term leasing ordinance Tuesday, which, among other requirements, calls on anybody renting out a property to have an active business license with the City.
The amendments also permit an owner, who occupies a rental housing unit as their primary residence, to lease a unit for more than 30 days and less than a year no more than twice a year for a total period of less than six months. The unit would be allowed to be rented furnished, city staff said Wednesday.
Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units with plans submitted for plan check before Dec. 31, 2020 can also be rented out for more than 30 days and less than one year if the ADU or JADU is located on a parcel improved with a single-unit dwelling that’s occupied by the owner as the primary residence. The owner must remain on-site during the rental, city staff added, and qualifying ADUs or JADUs would be allowed to be rented furnished.
Council also broadened the types of documents tenants can use to show that a rental housing unit will be used as the tenant’s primary residence to ensure that the documentation requirements do not unduly burden undocumented students. And in an effort to help further a landlord’s ability to relocate tenants to comparable temporary rental housing within the City, leases for tenant relocation do not need to comply with the new aspects of the leasing requirements.
Discussion regarding the new leasing rules, which were approved unanimously, will continue through an update to the Housing Element, according to city leaders.
“After weeks of public input about improving our initial ordinance against ‘corporate rentals,’ which already proved effective in stopping the commercialization of housing meant for residents, we added reasonable exemptions for homeowners, Accessory Dwelling Units, displaced tenants, and students,” McKeown said. “At the same time we further strengthened safeguards against heartless evictions to turn rental apartments into more profitable but community-unfriendly commercial uses.”