Rent Freeze: Frequently Asked Questions

Rent Freeze: Frequently Asked Questions

On February 13, the City Council voted to approve a temporary rent freeze for the city of Santa Cruz.  The immediate goal of the temporary freeze was to make it safe for renters to discuss rent control without fear of being evicted.  The long term goal of the rent control ordinance is to slow the rapid displacement of working people from our town and help renters grow roots in our community.

The Temporary Ordinances:

Rents: The first limits rent increases to a 2% increase in this year in multi-unit homes built before 1995 (because of the State law Costa Hawkins rent control can only apply to multi-unit homes built before 1995).

Evictions: The second limits no-cause evictions in properties that are owned by landlords with more than one rental unit, except for the parcels they themselves live on, if they are ADUs or duplexes.

Short term rentals, institutional housing and section 8 are exempt from both.

They are both in effect from February 13 through at least September 1, 2018; longer if ballot measure qualifies. Enforcement will happen when people complain to the City. Tenants retain rights to sue.

Frequently Asked Questions:

For Renters in qualified homes:
  • If I was sent a notice for a rent increase over 2% or an eviction without just cause but they were not set to go into effect by Feb 13, will they be legal?  No, in fact if the increase or eviction were not enacted by the morning of Feb 14, they become void.
  • How do I get assistance navigating the details of this ordinance?  Call (831) 222-0359
  • How can I get involved in supporting the signature gathering campaign? Email
  • If my home is sold, will I be evicted? Only if the new owner is planning on moving in or you breach the lease, and then you will get substantial notice.
  • What constitutes just cause for eviction? Non-payment of rent, Substantial breach of lease, Nuisance, Criminal activity on the premises, Failure to allow access, Necessary and Substantial Repairs Requiring Temporary Vacancy, Owner move-in, Permanent withdrawal of unit from the market.
For Landlords of qualified homes:

Will I be able to sell my home? Yes.

  • Will I, or my family, be able to move into a home I buy? Yes.
  • Will I be able to recoup costs if repairs or construction is needed?  Yes, there is an appeal process that will allow for unusual rent increases
  • I am hearing that this allows infinite subleasing? Tenants cannot sublease without landlord agreement.
  • How can I get involved in supporting the signature gathering campaign? Email
  • Are there other landlords who support rent control? Yes! you can join Landlords (and Homeowners) for rent control here at
More Details

Rent Control Moratorium Ordinance

Maximum 2% rent increase per year allowed during moratorium.  Time measured from previous increase.

If you recently received notice of a rent increase, an increase of over 2% is void if:

  • you received the notice after January 14 for a rent increase under 10% (30 day notice required), or
  • you received the notice after December 15 for a rent increase of 10% or more (60 day notice required).
  • Additional exemptions for Rent Control (Costa-Hawkins restrictions) but not exempted from Just Cause for Eviction:
  • Condominiums and single family dwellings if no other housing unit is on the same parcel.
  •  Unit first occupied after Feb 1, 1995.

No rent roll-back date.  No limit on rent at the beginning of a new tenancy.

A property owner may petition the City Manager for a higher rent increase with justification for a fair, just and reasonable return on investment.

Just Cause for Eviction Temporary Ordinance

Exemptions for Just Cause for Eviction (but not exempted from Rent Control):

  • Shared bath or kitchen with landlord in their primary residence.
  • Duplex or ADU if landlord lives on the property.
  • Landlord’s sole rental unit.
  • Landlord retaliation not allowed for tenant reporting violations.
  • Landlord must be in compliance with the ordinance to evict a tenant.

Read the full ordinance here.

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