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New Relocation Assistance Fees if Santa Cruz Rent Control (Measure M) Fails?

If Measure M, the Santa Cruz City Rent Control and Just Cause for Eviction ballot measure does not pass, new relocation assistance laws may still come into affect.

Santa Cruz City has drafted an ordinance-amendment, creating a law that will require landlords to pay a relocation assistance fee to displaced tenants and tenants that must move because of “large” rent increases. To read the proposed ordinance amendments (in red), click here and click here for additional information.

The Ordinance As-Is: Relocation Assistance for “Displaced Tenants”

The following is a pre-existing ordinance in the Santa Cruz City Municipal Code, found here.

Tenants are considered displaced if they have to leave the rental due to unsafe or hazardous living conditions or to illegal use of the structure as a residence are entitled to the relocation assistance under the proposed ordinance.  The ordinance states, “the immediate payment of three months’ fair market value rent for a unit of comparable size, as established by the most current Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development schedule of fair market rents, or three months of the tenant’s actual rent, whichever is greater, or other arrangements of equal benefit which are agreeable to the tenant as evidenced by a written agreement between the tenant and the property owner” will be due to the tenant.

If the tenant is required to vacate the structure with less than 30 days’ notice, either 1) required relocation payment can go up to four months rent (either current rent or “fair market value rent) or 2) the landlord must provide alternative, safe and legal housing for thirty days after the tenant vacates. The tenant is allowed to choose between these two options.

The Amendment: Relocation Assistance for “Large” Rent Increases

The proposed ordinance-amendment states that, if a landlord increases rent by more than 10% or cumulatively more than 15.5% in any two consecutive years, forcing the tenant to leave due to inability to pay rent, then he or she will have to pay the tenant two months rent-worth of relocation assistance. This payment will be due at the time of relocation or prior to the rent increase.

This payment will be due within thirty calendar days after a tenant gives the owner notice of intent to vacate due to a large rent increase, or prior to the time the tenant vacates the unit, whichever comes first.

The tenant shall has sixty days after the effective date of such increase to notify the landlord of his or her intent to vacate. If such notice is not given by tenant within sixty days of effective date of rent increase, the tenant is understood to have accepted such increase and is no longer eligible to claim relocation assistance from the property owner.

Next Steps

City Council has delayed their decision on the ordinance until closer to the election. Keep an eye on our blog for updates: 

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