Culver City Focuses on Tenant Rights and Protections

With Culver City’s permanent Rent Control and Tenant Protections ordinances in place, the City of Culver City seeks to inform Culver City tenants of their rights regarding evictions, relocation assistance, uninhabitable conditions and harassment. Residents, landlords and property owners can learn more about these ordinances and read the full Rent Control & Tenant Protections summary on the City’s Rent Control & Tenant Protection Measures webpage.

First, evictions must be based on either “for cause” grounds or “no-fault” grounds. Examples of “for cause” grounds include a tenant’s failure to pay rent, or a tenant’s use of the unit for an illegal purpose. Examples of “no-fault” grounds include a property owner recovering a unit in order to demolish it, removing the unit from the rental market or for occupancy by the property owner or property owner’s eligible relative.

Evictions do not apply within the first 12 months of a lease or to tenants renting units that do not have their own bathroom or kitchen facility. Additionally, except in rare instances, some tenants—such as terminally ill and low-income tenants—are protected from eviction. Tenants with school-aged children are only protected during the school year.

Second, tenants should know they may qualify for relocation assistance once evicted. It would come in the form of compensation three times current rent or market rent (whichever is greater), plus $1,000. A landlord may deduct past due rent—with the exception of back rent built up during the City’s Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium period—as well as costs to cover extraordinary wear and tear. “Small Landlords,” which the City defines as landlords owning three or fewer units within and outside Culver City, will only need to pay 50% of relocation assistance.

Tenants would not qualify for relocation assistance if they received notice prior to entering their rental agreement that their property owner and/or landlord filed plans with the City to subdivide the property or convert the building to a condominium, stock cooperative or community apartment project. Additionally, tenants would not qualify if their landlord evicts them in compliance with government or court order to vacate due to a natural disaster.

Third, tenants are protected if faced with temporary uninhabitable conditions, which can happen with projects requiring substantial rehabilitation, fumigation or the need to meet State or City housing, health, building or safety laws. “Substantial rehabilitation” includes replacing or significantly modifying structural, electrical, plumbing or mechanical systems, as well as removing hazardous materials, such as lead-based paint, mold or asbestos. Cosmetic improvements alone do not fall into this category, such as painting, decorating, minor repairs or other work that can be done safely and without the need for vacating.

Landlords are obligated to take steps to make units safe for their tenants during this type of work. Alternately, landlords can relocate tenants to comparable living arrangements. If work is anticipated to last more than 30 days, tenants may voluntarily terminate their lease and start negotiating a buyout agreement with their landlord. If work continues beyond 30 days of the projected completion date, tenants may renew their option to voluntarily terminate their tenancy and enter into a buyout agreement. Regardless, landlords must provide 30 days’ notice prior to construction with a shorter period for emergencies.

Finally, tenants are protected by anti-harassment laws. No landlord, agent, contractor, subcontractor or employee of the landlord can violate the tenant protections in California’s Civil Code, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the federal Fair Housing Act or similar state and federal laws. Harassment may include acts that disturb a tenant’s comfort, rest, peace or quiet.

If tenants have questions about their rights or are concerned that their rights may be violated, they should contact the Culver City Housing Department by email at [email protected], via phone (310) 253-5780 or by visiting the Department Office on the second floor of City Hall at 9770 Culver Boulevard.

The City Council adopted its permanent Rent Control Ordinance and permanent Tenant Protections Ordinance on September 29, 2020. Both went into effect on October 30, 2020. Residents, landlords and property owners can learn more about these ordinances and read the full Rent Control & Tenant Protections Summary on the City’s Rent Control & Tenant Protection Measures webpage.

City of Culver City

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