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Santa Monica Bans Income Discrimination Against Tenants

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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

By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

May 14, 2015 -- Housing discrimination based on a potential renters’ income is now against the law in Santa Monica.

With no discussion and by a unanimous vote Tuesday evening, City Council members approved a second reading of an ordinance that adds income source to a list of traditional housing discrimination protections such as age, race and gender.

The new ordinance goes into effect 30 days after Tuesday’s vote, said City spokeswoman Debbie Lee.

It is aimed at preventing landlords from not renting to tenants who receive housing assistance in the form of Section 8 vouchers, City officials said.

It will not, however, force landlords to enter into Section 8 contracts or any other particular type of rental contract, officials said (Santa Monica Seeks to Codify Ban on Income Discrimination, May 5, 2015).

The ordinance closes a potential gap in state law, which already prohibits source-of-income discrimination but does not specifically clarify whether Section 8 qualifies as income, officials said.

 “The City wanted to make that clear,” Adam Radinsky, chief deputy city attorney for the consumer protection division, told the Lookout earlier this month.

The new ordinance also allows judges in income-based housing discrimination lawsuits to award damage as high as $10,000 in severe cases.

Rosario Perry, an attorney who represents Action Apartment Association, a local landlord group,  said he plans to challenge the new law in court.

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