City Council Approves Amendments to Leasing Requirements

October 13, 2020 11:09 PM

At its meeting tonight, the Santa Monica City Council adopted revisions to new residential leasing requirements adopted on August 25 aimed at preserving housing for long-term residents. The rules adopted on August 25 included requiring rental housing units to be (1) rented to tenants who will use and occupy the unit as their primary residence, (2) leased for an initial lease term of no less than one-year, (3) leased unfurnished, and (4) leased only to natural persons. After adoption, community members provided feedback highlighting special circumstances, including students looking for leases for the school-year and owners of rental units looking to rent for more than 30 days but less than a year while on sabbatical or away from their residence for other reasons.

In response to community input, Council adopted the following amendments to the residential leasing requirements:

  1. Permits an owner who occupies a rental housing unit as their primary residence to lease that unit for more than 30 days and less than a year no more than twice a year for a total period of less than six months. The unit would be allowed to be rented furnished. This would not apply to a unit that had been the subject of an Ellis Act or owner-move-in eviction within the last ten years.
  2. Permits Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) for which plans are submitted for plan check before December 31, 2020 to be rented for more than 30 days and less than one year if the ADU or JADU is located on a parcel improved with a single-unit dwelling occupied by the owner as the owner’s primary residence and the owner remains on site during the rental. Qualifying ADUs or JADUs would be allowed to be rented furnished.
  3. Leases for tenant relocation would not need to comply with any of the four main aspects of the leasing requirements; this would further a landlord’s ability to relocate tenants to comparable temporary rental housing within the City.
  4. 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.

Anyone renting out property is required to have an active business license with the City. To apply for a business license, visit

Discussion of leasing rules will continue through an update to the Housing Element. For more information on that, visit  

For more information on leasing requirements, read the staff report or visit the City Planning webpage



Media Contact

Constance Farrell
Public Information Officer


Community Development