SANTA MONICA—In May 2018, the Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance that will protect students and educators from no-fault evictions during the school year. The school year begins in August in Santa Monica, but no-fault eviction notices are served throughout the year.
According to the law, a court may not grant eviction under the following circumstances:
1) a child under the age of 18 or any educator resides in the unit; and
2) the child or educator is a tenant in the unit or has a custodial or family relationship with a tenant in the unit; and
3) the tenant has resided in the unit for 12 months or more; and
4) the effective date of the notice of termination of tenancy falls during the child or educator’s school year; and
5) the termination does not allege any fault of the tenant but is based on the owner’s intent to occupy, demolish or withdraw the unit from the rental market.
No-fault evictions stem out of a property owner’s wishes to occupy the unit or withdraw it from the rental market. These kinds of evictions are especially problematic for families during the school year.
According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, “Several studies demonstrate that disrupting relationship and plans by moving or changing schools in the middle of the year can be harmful for children. The consensus of the studies is that mid-year moves are likely to disrupt children’s peer networks and interfere with the learning process.”
School year evictions are linked to lower standardized test performance and issues with writing skills, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported. Santa Monica tenants facing school-year eviction are urged not to wait for eviction litigation to begin before taking protective measures. As soon as an eviction notice is served, tenants that qualify for protection under the ordinance should seek defense and inform their landlord, preferably in writing, of the city’s new law.
According to the city of Santa Monica website, if the response does not result in the landlord’s immediate withdrawal of the eviction notice, the tenants should contact an attorney, as well as the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office at (310) 458-8336.