SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Council recently approved an ordinance during its regular meeting on May 8 that will enhance tenant protections for students and educators facing no-fault evictions during the school year. According to a press release from the city of Santa Monica, these new protections will provide continuity of education for families with school-age children and educators living in Santa Monica.
Councilmembers Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown initiated the protections during the City Council’s February 27 meeting after a similar law in San Francisco was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeal.
“Education disruption brings immense challenges to young children and families if they are evicted or if their teacher faces eviction,” said Councilmember Sue Himmelrich. “This ordinance aligns with the City’s values and commitment to tenant rights as well as our strategic goals to maintain and inclusive and diverse community and to promote opportunities to learn and thrive.”
The defense would be available in the event of a no-fault eviction when:
-A child under the age of 18 or any educator resides in the unit,
-the child or educator is a tenant in the unit or has a custodial or family relationship with a tenant in the unit,
-the tenant has resided in the unit for 12 months or more, and
-the effective date of the notice of termination of tenancy falls during the school year.
“Just as Santa Monica protects seniors and persons with disabilities from sudden evictions through no fault of their own, now we’ll protect children and those who teach them,” said Councilmember Kevin McKeown. “This provides crucial stability to young students, for whom a sudden move in the middle of a school year is incredibly disruptive, and furthers the City’s commitments to renters’ rights, to maintaining an inclusive and diverse community, and to making sure all Santa Monicans enjoy the best possible opportunities to learn and thrive.”
The proposed ordinance makes clerical changes to the Santa Monica Municipal Code regarding tenant protections by creating a new category or chapter called ‘Tenant Protections,’ making important tenant information easier to find.
The Executive Summary states:
“The City of Santa Monica is committed to maintaining an inclusive and diverse community, as well as a community where all children can learn and thrive. Studies have shown that evictions are on the rise, and that evictions of students in the middle of the school year disrupt relationships that are important to children, interfere with the learning process, and place an administrative burden on schools. The proposed ordinance would reduce harmful effects of evictions and promote continuity in education by preventing no-fault evictions of families with children and educators during the school year. The proposed ordinance also makes clerical changes to Article 4 of the Santa Monica Municipal Code by moving certain existing tenant protection provisions in Article 4 of the Santa Monica Municipal Code to a new chapter titled Tenant Protection. These clerical changes are intended to promote transparency and ease access to the law.”
The ordinance also notes that mid-year moves impact a child’s peer networks and the learning process and mobility to school is linked to decreased proficiency rates on standardized test performances.
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, enforces tenant harassment and anti-discrimination laws, and provides community education related to tenants’ and consumers’ rights. They have seen cases where families face no-fault evictions, which are supported by cases seen by Rent Control. These come as a result of the housing affordability crisis rising. No-fault evictions occur when tenants are evicted based on no fault of their own, but due to a property owner’s decision to occupy the property or exit the rental market.
“This new ordinance will protect Santa Monica students and educators from being uprooted from their homes during the school year when they and their families have done nothing wrong,” said Deputy City Attorney Gary Rhoades. “The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office looks forward to educating the community about this new protection in time for the next school year.”
The City Attorney’s Office will start community outreach and education of the new protections after the City Council’s second reading of the ordinance. To learn more, visit https://www.smgov.net/consumer.