If adopted by the voters in November 2018, Measure M would apply to rentals in the City of Santa Cruz. It is divided into three main sections: Rent Control, Just Cause Eviction, and Rent Board.
1. Rent Control
- Caps annual rent increases in covered units to the rate of inflation as measured by the San Francisco Bay Area Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the previous year, which has been between 1.2% to 3.6% over the last decade.
- Covered units are multi-family housing built before 1995. Units exempt from rent control are single family homes, condos, and all housing units first occupied after 1995.
- Landlords retain the right to set initial rent for new tenants under current state law.
- (If the state Costa-Hawkins law is repealed by the passage of Proposition 10 in November, rent control will apply to virtually all rental housing.)
2. Just Cause Eviction
- Allowable just causes for eviction are specified. Eviction is not allowed for any other reason.
- Exception. Just Cause Eviction applies to all rental housing except where a landlord has roommate tenants who share the kitchen or bathroom.
- Two categories of allowable evictions: At Fault if the eviction is a result of an action or inaction of the tenant; No Fault if the reason for the eviction is out of the control of the tenant.
- At Fault Just Cause Eviction includes non-payment of rent; breach of lease; nuisance; illegal use; failure to give access; refusal to execute new lease; subtenant not approved by landlord in sole possession of unit at end of lease. At fault evictions do not require payment of relocation assistance.
- No Fault Just Cause Eviction includes vacating an unpermitted rental unit; move-in of owner or owner’s relative; necessary and substantial repairs requiring move out 30 days or more; and withdrawal of units permanently from rental market. Landlord must pay relocation assistance upon a no fault eviction.
- Relocation assistance is 6 months of the Santa Cruz area HUD fair market rent (currently studio $1,032/ month, 1BR $1, 624/month, 2 BR $2,161/month x 6 months). The upheaval to a tenant’s life of an unanticipated displacement is balanced by the landlord’s responsibility to pay relocation fees consistent with the costs of finding new housing.
- A tenant who has lived in a unit for at least 5 years and is over 62 years old, disabled or terminally ill may not be evicted for the move-in of an owner or owner’s relative unless they also meet the same criteria. However, the owner can recover possession of a unit regardless of who in living in it by taking it off the rental market permanently. Relocation assistance for these protected tenants is equal to seven months rent.
- Family protection. A landlord cannot deny a tenant from bringing a family member to live in their unit.
3. Rent Board:
- The 5 person Rent Board is elected by city voters and therefore directly answerable them. For the initial period of two years, Rent Board members are appointed by each City Council Member.
- The Rent Board implements the law independent of the City Council. The Board reviews petitions by landlords for rent increases in order to guarantee their legally required fair return on investment, and petitions by tenants for rent reduction based on failure to maintain habitable premises.
- Rent board finances its expenses by charging landlords an annual per-unit rental housing fee.