Overview:

Rent Control Adjustment Relief program reopens with new Jan. 11 deadline

Applications for a City-funded rent relief program re-opened earlier this month with a new deadline of Jan. 11 2023. The program provides a lump sum payment on behalf of eligible households directly to property owners or managers equivalent to a 3% rent increase over a 12 month period.

In August, City Council budgeted $750,000 for the Rent Control Adjustment Relief (RCAR) program to help tenants in rent-controlled units who were unable to afford their rent increases following a spike in the annual rent increase cap to 6% this year.

Every year, rent increases in controlled units are determined by a formula that charges tenants a percentage of overall inflation. This year’s increase to 6% with a $140 per month cap is the highest rate since 1990.

The RCAR program initially closed on Sept. 19 but was reopened on Dec. 12 due to the remainder of funds and ongoing need, a spokesperson for the City said. According to the City’s Housing and Human Services Department, there is enough money left to provide financial assistance to approximately 100 additional households. During the initial application period a total of 563 households applied, 381 of which were found eligible and granted aid.

To be eligible, applicants must be able to provide documentation (or an explanation as to why they cannot) showing they received a 2022 General Adjustment rent increase, put more than 50% of their household income towards rent and not be a housing voucher recipient.

Additionally, for the new round of assistance, applicants must live in a rent controlled unit that received a rent increase notice dated after the original Sept. 19 RCAR deadline. The notice must also be clearly signed and dated by the property manager or owner. Households that did not apply during the first cycle due to “extenuating circumstances” such as illness may also apply, according to the City’s website.

Online and printed applications are available in English, Spanish, Amharic, and Farsi. Applications completed on the online portal can be translated into these languages and others. Rent relief is not automatic; tenants must apply and be qualified to get help. The program is open to all tenants of rent-controlled apartments regardless of citizenship status.

For more information visit https://www.santamonica.gov/programs/rent-control-adjustment-relief

Measure RC to take effect in February

Santa Monica voters passed measure RC in November which will cap future maximum general adjustment for rent control tenants at 3%, or $19 a month, starting in February 2023 and will also reduce maximum allowable rents to 0.8% through August 2023. This is a decrease from the previous 6%, $140 per month cap. The measure will effectively bring this year’s (August 31, 2022 to August 31 2023) average annual rent increase to 3%, in line with the new rule. Tenants can expect a written notice from landlords reflecting this change effective Feb. 1 2023.

Rent Control Board accepting applications

Applications are now open to fill a vacancy on the Rent Control Board following the election of former board member Caroline Torosis to the City Council in November. The appointed applicant will serve on the board until November 2024 when the next general election is held.

The Rent Control Board is made up of five elected members who meet around once a month and are tasked with carrying out rent control law goals which include controlling residential rents, limiting grounds for eviction, preserving rental housing, encouraging maintenance and ensuring a fair return for rental property owners.

Applications should be sent to Board Secretary Alvin Ho (Alvin.Ho@santamonica.gov) by 12 p.m. on Jan 5, 2023. Applicants must be Santa Monica residents, registered to vote in the City and cannot be a City employee or serve as a member of any other local board or commission. For more information visit https://www.smgov.net/Current_Board_Meetings.aspx?

grace@smdp.com

Grace Adams

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...