April 20, 2023 3:49 PM
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – On Thursday, April 13, 2023, the Santa Monica Rent Control Board reviewed the Rent Control Board 2022 Annual Report, which provides information about the status of rent controlled housing in Santa Monica.
Insights from the report reveal a shifting and more costly local rental housing market. Rents for new tenancies saw a downward trend during the pandemic and are now showing increases. For 1- and 2-bedroom units, which make-up 82 percent of the controlled housing stock, median rents for new tenancies rose 8.7 percent and 13 percent respectively, as compared to a year earlier. The median starting rent for a 1-bedroom unit increased $200 to $2,500, and the median starting rent for a 2-bedroom unit rose nearly $400 to $3,400. Record high starting rents were set for all unit sizes in 2022 except 3-bedroom and larger units, which were only higher in 2020.
Other notable observations include:
- Almost half of the 27,600 rent-controlled units are occupied by tenants who moved in between 2016 and 2022. Less than a quarter of the units remain occupied by tenants who moved in before 1999 when vacancy decontrol/recontrol began.
- At the median rent set for new tenancies in 2022, an annual income of about $115,000 would be required to afford a studio-size apartment if a household spent no more than 30 percent of its income on rent. To afford a 2-bedroom unit, a household would need an annual income of more than $150,000.
- On average, two to three petitions per week were filed with the Rent Control office, most of which were complaints regarding owners removing amenities or services or failing to maintain properties that could result in a rent decrease. The Rent Control Agency’s mediation program facilitates resolving conflicts between tenants and landlords. The program was able to fully or partially resolve 44 percent of petitions for rent decrease received and 67 percent of excess rent complaints, diverting these cases away from formal administrative hearings.
- Withdrawal of units from the rental market under the state Ellis Act remained low as compared to pre-pandemic years. Twenty-two units were given notice in 2022 that owners intended to withdraw their units and evict existing tenants. This is down from an annual average of 98 units receiving notice from 2015 to 2019. The City’s pandemic-related emergency orders and eviction moratorium, which prevent eviction of tenants on these properties through the end of April, may have limited Ellis activity.
- The protections in the Rent Control Law which limit rent increases for in-place tenants ensure rent stability. Relative to tenants who started their tenancies in Santa Monica last year, tenants who stay in place pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars less for similarly sized units.
- The Rent Control Agency responded to more than 13,000 constituent inquiries in 2022, and there were more than 154,000 visits to the Agency’s website. The most frequently visited page is “Look up a Rent”, which allows users to enter an address and see the current controlled rents and unit sizes for each unit on the property.
The complete report, including Status of Controlled Rental Housing, Impact of Market-Rate Vacancy Increases, Impact of the Ellis Act, and departmental overviews is available at santamonica.gov/rentcontrol in the Reports section and here.
Public Information Officer