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Rent Board Annual Adjustment Set to Go Into Effect in September
By Lookout Staff
June 18, 2021 -- Beginning September 1, Santa Monica rent control tenants will see their monthly rent increase by 1.7 percent after the Rent Control Board approved the latest annual general adjustment last week.
The Board last Thursday also voted to cap the increase at $39 a month for units with a maximum allowable rent of $2,265 or higher.
While the general adjustment is set by a formula, the Board has the discretion to set a cap or allow the adjusted rate to apply to all units no matter the price.
The cap will affect most of the tenants renting one-bedroom units, which have a median rent of $2,475 per month, meaning half the rents are above that amount.
The cap will also affect the lions share of tenants in two-bedroom apartments -- which have a media rent of $3,200 -- and those in three bedroom units or larger.
Had the cap not been imposed, tenants in pricier units could have seen substantial rent increases.
For example, tenants in 72 of the units at the 16-story Champagne Towers complex on Ocean Avenue pay more than $10,000.
The priciest unit at the prestigious 50-year-old complex, which has a maximum allowable rent of $41,636, would have seen a monthly increase of $708 had a cap not been imposed.
The annual adjustment -- dictated by a formula set by the City's Rent Control Charter -- is based on 75 percent of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the Greater Los Angeles area for the year ending in March.
The change in the CPI for that period was 2.2 percent. When rounded out, the percentage change results in this year's adjustment of 1.7 percent.
Tenants and registered owners of rent-controlled property will be sent a mailing in late June with details of the general adjustment, rent board officials said.
In a separate mailing, owners will receive a bill for the Board's $198 per unit registration fees due August 2.
The registration fee -- which was last raised in 2017 -- pays for the Board's annual budget, which was also approved on June 10.
The operating expense budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 projects expenditures of $5,505,178 and revenue of $5,284,111, resulting in a deficit of $221,067.
The projected deficit, which is larger than in recent years, will be covered by the Board's reserve fund.
The budget pays for 24 Rent Board employees and one employee in the City's Information Services Department (ISD) assigned to the Board, which pays that employee's salary.
The Board also will continue to pay as-needed employees to help the Hearings Department with mediations and hearings, which are expected to be held more frequently, Board officials said.
"With the end of the public health emergency in sight, there is a possibility of some pent-up demand for mediation and hearings to address tenant petitions related to maintenance conditions and housing services," staff wrote in its budget report to the Board.
"During the health emergency tenants may have been reluctant to have service/repair people in their units but that concern is subsiding as the public health situation improves," staff said.
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