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By Lookout Staff

October 15, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to revise Santa Monica's newest housing law to eliminate unforeseen scenarios.

The law, which was approved in August, requires that residential leases be at least a year, that the units be unfurnished and that they be leased only to natural persons and not to corporations.

The law inadvertently covered furnished homes rented while the owners were away, units leased to students present only during the school year and those leased to tenants displaced by emergency repairs.

City Employees' Council Endorsements

“After weeks of public input about improving our initial ordinance against ‘corporate rentals,’ we added reasonable exemptions for homeowners, Accessory Dwelling Units, displaced tenants, and students,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown.

"At the same time we further strengthened safeguards against heartless evictions to turn rental apartments into more profitable but community-unfriendly commercial uses,” McKeown said.

The amended law allows an owner "who occupies a rental housing unit as their primary residence" to lease it for more than 30 days and less than a year, City officials said.

They can do so "no more than twice a year for a total period of less than six months," and the unit can be furnished.

The exemption does not apply to a unit that has been "the subject of an Ellis Act or owner-move-in eviction within the last ten years."

The amended law also exempts Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units for which plans are submitted for plan check before December 31, 2020 on parcels with single-unit dwellings occupied by the owner.

The units can be rented furnished or unfurnished for more than 30 days and less than one year as long as the owner remains on site during the rental.

Under the amended law, leases for tenant relocation are exempt from the main leasing requirements, furthering "a landlord’s ability to relocate tenants to comparable temporary rental housing within the city."

"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," officials said.

Anyone renting out property is required to have an active business license with the City.

For more information on leasing requirements, visit the City Planning webpage.

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