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Relocated Santa Monica Tenants Getting More Help
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

April 18, 2016 -- A new position in the Santa Monica government is expected to serve the role of prime contact and facilitator for renters forced to leave their residences temporarily or permanently for reasons outside their control.

The City Council on Tuesday voted 6-0 to create the job title “tenant relocation coordinator.” Funding for the job (amount yet to be determined) will be included in the budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

This coordinator would “assess each individual circumstance, respond to emergencies after hours on an on-call basis, coordinate with other agencies as needed, and educate tenants regarding resources available based on the tenant’s issues,” according to a City staff report to the council.

Other tasks include working with other City offices to “educate landlords and tenants regarding their rights and obligations related to habitability, construction requirements and relocation,” as well as track construction projects that impact tenants.

Seventeen Santa Monica tenants were forced to relocate and received compensation between January 2015 and March 2016, according to the City. Most were relocated due to construction or lack of gas and heat, officials said. Two were relocated due to fires.

"In most cases, landlords address issues timely without the need to cite or issue an order," staff wrote, "however, there have been cases where landlords have been resistant to paying relocation or have disputed the requirement to pay relocation."

The new position was included on a list of changes to the City’s relocation regulations approved by the Council on Tuesday. Most of the changes were technical and did not trigger much conversation at the meeting.

One proposed change that faced opposition involved the relocation of tenants from "illegal rental housing units that have no building and safety approval and are not lawfully registered with the Rent Control Board."

Under the proposed change, the tenant would need to have lived in the illegal unit for at least 12 months in order to receive financial compensation from the landlord.

This would "ensure that residency has been established and to deter abuse of the relocation process,” the staff report says.

Several council members and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) objected to this proposal.

“Only allowing relocation after a 12-month tenancy will simply result in landlords renting their units out for shorter periods of time, kicking their tenants out, and renting to someone new, with the goal of avoiding having to pay permanent relocation when and if they are cited by the City,” wrote LAFLA senior attorney Denise McGranahan in a letter to the council.

Council members did not approve the proposal.

The amount of money tenants receive from landlords for being forced to relocate is calculated by a formula. New amounts are issued each July. Compensation is required regardless of whether the unit is rent-controlled.

The current compensation for permanent relocation is $8,650 for no-bedroom units, $13,300 for one-bedroom and $18,050 for two-bedroom. The compensation increases if the tenant is over 62, disabled or has a child.

Temporarily relocated tenants receive $154 per day for a hotel or motel (apartment of “comparable size” must be provided if the displacement is longer than 30 days), $29 per day for meals, $1 per day for laundry and $28 to $51 per day for animal care.

Renters who are forced to leave their residences will not receive compensation “if the tenant or his or her guest was primarily responsible for causing the problem” that led to the situation, according to the City’s website.

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