Interim Rent Control & Eviction Moratorium - FAQ's

Overview

These FAQs are not intended to be a comprehensive guide. For complete information about the interim rent control measures, please read Ordinance No. 2019-011 or visit the Culver City Interim Rent Control Measures webpage.

If you have a question that is not on these lists, please contact the Housing Division at rent.control@culvercity.org or (310) 253-5790.

Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium FAQs

Interim Rent Control Measures FAQs

Llame a la Ciudad al (310) 253-5790 si necesita mas información en español. 

2020 Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium

Why is there a moratorium on evictions of residential tenants in Culver City?

On March 16, the City Manager, under the authority of Culver City Municipal Code (CCMC) Section 3.09.020.B.1.h(2), as the Director of Emergency Services, issued a public order (“March 16 Order”) enacting City measures to protect the public health and safety and prevent the spread of the coronavirus respiratory disease (COVID-19). The March 16 Order included, among other things, a moratorium on the eviction of any residential tenant who has an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic (“Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium” or “Moratorium”). Subsequently, on March 26, 2020, in response to growing evidence of the critical need for residents to shelter in place, finding a compelling public interest in protecting the public health and safety and health and safety of tenants who are facing eviction, and in ensuring that residents have a home to which to shelter in place during the critical health crisis, the City Council directed the City Manager to expand the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium to prohibit all evictions of residential tenants through May 31, 2020, subject to certain limited exceptions (see FAQ #3).

On March 27, 2020, the City Manager, issued a Second Supplement to Public Order, consistent with the City Council’s March 26th direction, extending the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium through May 31, 2020 and expanding its scope.

Also, on March 27, 2020, the Governor of the State of California issued Executive Order N-37-20, which imposes a state-wide 60-day suspension of unlawful detainer proceedings in cases where nonpayment of rent is due to reasons related to COVID- 19. As another indicator of the critical need for residents to shelter in place, the Governor’s March 27, 2020 Executive Order expressly preserves local authority to order any public health measure that may compel an individual to remain physically present in a particular residential property.

In step with the Governor’s Order, the California courts issued an emergency rule, which effectively halts all evictions statewide unless the court deems it necessary for public health and safety. The rule will stay in effect until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency or until the rule is amended or repealed by the courts.

On April 27th, 2020, the City Council directed the City Manager to extend the period after the expiration of the Residential Eviction Moratorium to pay all Back Rent (the “grace period”) from six months to twelve months.  On April 28, 2020, the City Manager issued an Eighth Supplement to Public Order, consistent with the City Council’s April 27th direction, extending the grace period from six months to twelve months. This Supplement was approved by the City Council on May 11, 2020.

On April 28, 2020, the City Manager issued an Eighth Supplement to Public Order extending the grace period within which a tenant has to repay Back Rent to 12 months after the expiration of the Eviction Moratorium, consistent with the City Council’s direction.

On May 11, 2020, the City Council discussed possible options for including repayment plan provisions in the Eviction Moratorium, in order to ensure that tenants are not faced with unmanageable “balloon payments” at the end of the 12-month grace period, and risk eviction for nonpayment of Back Rent, and directed the City Manager to include provisions in the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium to encourage and incentivize a landlord and tenant to negotiate a repayment plan over the 12-month grace period. On May 12, 2020, the City Manager amended the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium implementation measures in accordance with City Council’s direction.

On May 18, 2020, the City Council considered an extension of the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium. The City Council directed the City Manager to issue a public order to extend the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium to August 31, 2020 or the end of the Local Emergency, whichever occurs earlier. On May 19, 2020, the City Manager issued a Twelfth Supplement to Public Order consistent with the with the City Council’s direction.

In late June and during the month of July, 2020, due to increases in the daily reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and the testing positivity rates, the Los Angeles County Public Health Officer issued revised orders, in alignment with the California Governor’s announcements, requiring the closure of specific activities and business sectors, superseding previous orders (which had allowed many businesses to reopen), to address the serious regression of COVID-19 indicators within Los Angeles County. Such closures of certain higher risk businesses, recreational sites, commercial properties, and activities, where more frequent and prolonged person-to-person contacts are likely to occur, superseded any previous openings permitted in Culver City. 

On August 3, 2020, the City Council discussed an extension of the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium based on concerns that although the City is in a “recovery” period, these recent closures will have a significant financial impact on many individuals and businesses. While some people have been able to go back to work or reopen a business, many others are still out of work and many businesses have been ordered to close once again. As a result, it will be a slow financial recovery and may be challenging for many tenants, both residential and commercial, to begin paying rent on September 1, 2020, if the current Eviction Moratorium expires on August 31, 2020. As such, the City Council directed the City Manager to: (1) extend the Eviction Moratorium to September 30, 2020; and (2) bring back a comprehensive discussion regarding the Eviction Moratorium to the earliest City Council meeting in September. On August 4, 2020, the City Manager issued a Twenty-Second Supplement to Public Order consistent with the with the City Council’s direction.

How long is the Moratorium in effect?

The Moratorium is in effect through September 30, 2020, unless extended by public order of the City Manager or by the City Council.

Are there any exceptions to the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium?

Yes. The Moratorium is subject to certain limited exceptions. A Landlord may still evict a Tenant under one or more of the following circumstances:

  • A. Nonpayment of Rent where the Tenant cannot claim an inability to pay;
  • B. Tenant is using the Rental Unit for an illegal purpose;
  • C. Tenant refuses to allow inspection of the unit, as authorized by law;
  • D. Tenant has created or is maintaining a dangerous and unsanitary condition;
  • E. Eviction is necessary to address an imminent and objectively verifiable threat to the health and safety of a member of the Tenant’s household or other residents of the rental property, or to the Landlord or Landlord’s employees.

(See definition of Permitted Eviction in Section 1.J of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

Does the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium apply to my Rental Unit?

The Moratorium applies to all Rental Units in the City, including, but not limited to, single-family homes (including owner-occupied), townhomes, condominiums, triplexes, duplexes and accessory dwelling units. It also applies to mobilehomes and mobilehome park lots. (See definition of Rental Unit in Section 1.M of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

If I was served with a Three-Day Notice to Pay or Quit or other eviction notice due to my failure to pay Rent, am I protected under the Moratorium?

It depends. If you can show an inability to pay your Rent for any reason, you are protected from eviction; provided, the Landlord does not have other cause to evict, as discussed in FAQ #3. If you have the ability to pay Rent, and have no other legally permissible reason for withholding Rent, you must pay your Rent. Failure to pay Rent, when you are able to do so, is cause for eviction by the Landlord. (See definition of Permitted Eviction in Section 1.J of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

What do I do if I am unable to pay my Rent?

If you are unable to pay your rent during the Moratorium period, you must notify your Landlord in writing within 30 days after the date Rent is due of your inability to pay the full amount, or any portion, of the Rent due, and include the required documentation discussed below. The allowable forms of written notification include email or text communications to a Landlord or the Landlord’s representative with whom the Tenant has previously corresponded by email or text. (See Section 6 of Amended Implementation Measures.)

Included with your written notification to your Landlord, you must provide a signed and dated declaration under penalty of perjury, stating that you are unable to pay Rent and describing the reasons for the inability to pay. The declaration must include the following statement, or its substantial equivalent, above the Tenant’s signature: “I DECLARE UNDER THE PENALTY OF PERJURY UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THAT THE REPRESENTATIONS HEREIN ARE TRUE AND CORRECT.”

In addition to the declaration, you must also make a diligent and good faith effort to provide documentation of your inability to pay Rent that is readily available to you. Examples of such documentation include:

  • A. Written communication from Tenant’s employer that Tenant’s hours have been reduced or wages have been suspended, or that Tenant has been terminated;
  • B. Employer paycheck stubs and/or time cards;
  • C. Notification from a school declaring a school closure;
  • D. Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • E. Proof of child care expenses;
  • F. Proof of being under medical care or medical quarantine.

(See Section 7 of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

How long do I have to pay my unpaid Rent?

You have a period of 12 months after the expiration of the Residential Eviction Moratorium to pay all Back Rent. During the 12-month grace period, your Landlord may collect Rent as it accrues for each current rental period but may not terminate your tenancy for nonpayment of Back Rent. Upon the expiration of the 12-month grace period, the Landlord may take such actions as allowed by State and local law to collect any Back Rent that remains unpaid, including eviction proceedings.

If, after the 12-month grace period to repay Back Rent, I am still unable to pay my Back Rent, can I be served an eviction notice?

Yes. Upon the expiration of the 12-month grace period, the Landlord may take such actions as allowed by State and local law to collect any Back Rent that remains unpaid, including eviction proceedings. (See Section 4.C and Section 9 of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

If, after the expiration of the Moratorium, I am still unable to pay my Rent for the current rental period, can I be served with an eviction notice?

Yes. Upon the expiration of the Moratorium period, the Landlord may take such actions as allowed by State and local law to collect Rent for the current rental period. However, during the 12-month grace period following the expiration of the Moratorium, the Landlord may not terminate the tenancy of a Tenant for nonpayment of Back Rent.

My Landlord wants to evict me so that he/she or a member of his/her family can move into the unit. Do I have to vacate the unit?

During the Moratorium period, your Landlord cannot evict you for this purpose, unless they have an underlying cause to evict based on the exceptions listed in FAQ #3. Evictions based on no fault grounds, including owner occupancy, are not permissible during the Moratorium period. (See Sections 1.J and 4.A of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

If I was served with an eviction notice prior to the Moratorium, am I still protected?

The Residential Eviction Moratorium applies to any Notice of Termination, eviction notice or unlawful detainer action, regardless of the date it was served or filed, if the Tenant has not completely vacated the Rental Unit as of March 18, 2020. (See Section 3 of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

Can my Landlord charge late charges or fees to any unpaid Rent?

No. A Landlord is prohibited from charging or collecting late charges or fees when payment of Rent is delayed during the period of the Moratorium. (See Section 4.B of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

What can I do if I have been served with a Notice of Termination, eviction notice or unlawful detainer during the Moratorium?

  • A. If your tenancy is being terminated for a failure to pay Rent, and you have an inability to pay your Rent:
    • i. Within 30 days after the date Rent is due, you should notify your landlord, in writing, of your inability to pay the full amount of the Rent or portion thereof.
    • ii. Along with your written notification to the landlord of your inability to pay Rent, you must include a signed and dated declaration under penalty of perjury, stating that you are unable to pay Rent and describing the reasons for the inability to pay. The declaration must include the following statement, or its substantial equivalent, above your signature: “I DECLARE UNDER THE PENALTY OF PERJURY UNDER THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THAT THE REPRESENTATIONS HEREIN ARE TRUE AND CORRECT.”
    • iii. In addition to the declaration, you must also make a diligent and good faith effort to provide documentation of your inability to pay Rent that is readily available to you. Examples of such documentation include:
      • a. Written communication from Tenant’s employer that Tenant’s hours have been reduced or wages have been suspended, or that Tenant has been terminated;
      • b. Employer paycheck stubs and/or time cards;
      • c. Notification from a school declaring a school closure;
      • d. Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses;
      • e. Proof of child care expenses;
      • f. Proof of being under medical care or medical quarantine.
    (See Sections 6 and 7 of the Amended Implementation Measures.)
  • B. If your tenancy is being terminated for any other reason, other than an inability to pay rent, please immediately contact the Housing Division at residential.eviction@culvercity.org or (310) 253-5790, regarding your particular case.

Can my Landlord increase my Rent during the Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium?

Possibly. The Residential Tenant Eviction Moratorium does not include a rent freeze; therefore, a Landlord may increase a Tenant’s rent during the Moratorium period. However, the City’s Interim Rent Control Ordinance (“IRCO”) (Ordinance No. 2019-011) is still in effect and any Rent increase is subject to its requirements. Per Section 4.A of the IRCO, Rent increases remain capped at 3% above the Rent in effect on June 11, 2019, and a Landlord may only increase the Rent once in a 12- month period. For more information regarding restrictions on Rent increases, please visit the City's Interim Rent Control Measures webpage.

If I am unable to pay the full amount of my Rent, can I pay a portion of my Rent during the Moratorium period and still be protected from eviction?

Yes. The Moratorium does not prevent a Tenant who is unable to pay the full amount of Rent from voluntarily paying a portion of the Rent during the Moratorium period. However, a Landlord may not seek partial payment of Rent.

Can my Landlord and I negotiate a reduced amount of Rent during the Moratorium period?

Yes. The Moratorium does not prevent a Landlord from reducing a Tenant’s Rent during the Moratorium period; provided, however, that if the Tenant is unable to pay the reduced Rent, the Tenant will remain eligible for the protections of the Moratorium. For Rental Units that are subject to the Rent limits imposed by the City’s Interim Rent Control Ordinance (“IRCO”), subsequent Rent increases, from the reduced Rent amount, must not result in Rent that exceeds the amount permitted under Section 4.A. of the IRCO.

If I want to voluntarily vacate my Rental Unit, am I entitled to relocation assistance?

The Moratorium does not prevent a Landlord and Tenant from mutually agreeing to terms of payment in consideration of the Tenant’s agreement to vacate the Rental Unit. The agreement must be in writing and be signed and dated by the Tenant and the property owner/management company and must include a copy of the March 27, 2020 Public Order and Amended Implementation Measures as an attachment. A copy of the buy-out agreement must be provided to the Culver City Housing Division. The Culver City Housing Division may, in its sole discretion, require additional information from both parties as it deems necessary to prevent abuse of the intent of the Moratorium.

In cases where the Landlord would be obligated to pay a relocation payment to Tenant pursuant to Section 6 of the City’s Interim Rent Control Ordinance (“IRCO”) (Ordinance No. 2019-011), the payment may not be less than the amount required by Section 6 of the IRCO and the Landlord must comply with the procedural requirements of that Section. Further, the agreement must contain the Tenant’s written acknowledgement that they have received a copy of the IRCO and are aware of the relocation payment requirement in Section 6.

Even though I may be protected from eviction under the Moratorium, I have concerns of retaliation against me if I do not pay my Rent on time. What can I do?

Retaliatory action against a Tenant for filing a complaint with the Culver City Housing Division (or exercising any legal right) is prohibited under California law. A Landlord may not increase Rent, decrease housing services, terminate tenancy, attempt to recover possession, or threaten any of these, in retaliation for the Tenant’s exercise of his or her rights. (California Civil Code §1942.5(d).) A Landlord who engages in such retaliatory acts may be liable for actual damages and punitive damages of not less than $100 or more than $2,000 for each retaliatory act. (California Civil Code §1942.5(h).) If you believe you are being harassed or your Landlord has retaliated against you for lawfully permitted nonpayment of rent, or the exercise of any other legal rights, please immediately contact the Housing Division at residential.eviction@culvercity.org or (310) 253-5790.

Can my Landlord evict me if I or a member of my household becomes infected with COVID-19?

Infected tenants or household members do not lose the protection of the Moratorium unless they are acting in a manner that presents an imminent and objectively verifiable threat to the health or safety of a member of the Tenant’s Household or other residents of the rental property, or to the Landlord or Landlord’s employees. Even if the Landlord believes that to be the case, they must first give written notice to the Tenant and to the Housing Division, describing in detail the nature of the imminent threat, the reason eviction is necessary to address the threat, and the steps taken by the Landlord to avoid eviction. The Housing Division may request additional documentation and may order suspension of the eviction process if it determines that suspension is necessary in order to prevent abuse of the intent of the Public Order. (See Section 1.J.v of the Amended Implementation Measures.)

My Landlord asked that I take out a personal loan to pay the Rent. Can he/she request that, and am I obligated to attempt to obtain a loan?

A Landlord may not require, nor is a Tenant obligated to obtain a loan to pay his/her Rent. A Landlord may ask you to verify that you are unable to pay your Rent, which you are required to do, as set forth in Sections 6 and 7 of the Amended Implementation Measures.

Can my Landlord use my security deposit to cover my rent if I am unable to pay?

The Moratorium does not preclude a Landlord from exercising their legal right to draw upon the security deposit for payment of rent, per Civil Code Section 1950.5.

 

Interim Rent Control Measures

Are there currently rent control measures in effect in Culver City?

Yes. At its meeting of August 12, 2019, the City Council adopted an urgency ordinance establishing interim (temporary) rent control measures for a 12-month period. The ordinance took effect immediately upon its adoption. A summary of the key provisions of the ordinance include, but are not limited to: rent cap of 3% above rents in effect on June 11, 2019; registration of rental units; petition process for Landlords to request relief from rent cap; “for cause” and “no fault” grounds required for evictions; and relocation assistance of three times monthly rent, plus $1,000 for no fault evictions.

When do the interim rent control and other measures expire?

The interim measures expire on August 11, 2020, unless extended by the City Council. Prior to expiration of the interim ordinance, the City Council will receive a report from City staff, based on studies conducted and information gathered during the 12-month period, and will determine whether to extend the temporary interim period or if a permanent rent control program is warranted. Unless the 12-month interim period is extended, or the City Council adopts a permanent program at the end of the interim period, then a Landlord would no longer be subject to the ordinance’s limitations.

What is the City’s authority to adopt rent control?

The police powers granted to cities by the California Constitution allow cities to regulate the rent charged for residential rental units, in order to promote the public health and welfare. However, rent regulations are subject to certain limitations imposed by state law and property owners are entitled to receive a just and reasonable return on their investment.

Is the Culver City Ordinance necessary given the Governor’s adoption of an Emergency Declaration relating to recent wildfires and Legislature’s consideration of Assembly Bill 1482?

In November 2018, then acting-Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County and Ventura County as a result of the Hill and Woolsey wildfires. He also issued an executive order prohibiting rent increases greater than 10%, with certain limited exceptions. That executive order will expire in November 2019. Because the executive order will expire soon and because the allowable rent increases would not prevent hardship in light of Culver City’s already high rents, the City Council felt it was necessary to develop a temporary local rent control program designed to meet local needs. Similarly, even if Assembly Bill 1482 is enacted into law in its current form, it would allow rent increases that are substantially higher than permitted under Culver City’s ordinance.

What are the state law limitations on Culver City’s ability to impose rent control?

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act was enacted by the California legislature in 1995 and places limits on local rent control ordinances. One such limitation is the exemption from rent control for certain types of residential units, including detached single-family dwellings, separately owned condominiums and townhomes, and any dwelling units that were first occupied after February 1, 1995. Further, local rent control measures must permit the owner of a rent-controlled unit to establish the initial rental rate when a vacant unit is rented to a new Tenant. Rent increases for that unit then become subject to regulation.

Is the rent cap applicable to my building/unit?

It depends on the type and age of the unit. Please see the guide on the Interim Rent Control Measures page for assistance. With some exceptions, the limit on rent increases, applies to all rental units in Culver City built on or before February 1, 1995 (collectively, “covered rental units”). The rent cap applies even if the residential use is not legally permitted, such as an illegally converted garage. The rent cap does not apply to any rental unit first occupied after February 1, 1995 or to detached single family homes, or separately owned condominiums and townhouses, all of which are currently exempt under state law. The rent cap also does not apply to Section 8 housing. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

Are properties with four or fewer units (such as duplexes and triplexes) exempt from the rent cap?

Properties with four or fewer units constructed on or before February 1, 1995 are covered under the ordinance, even if the owner lives on the property. Those first occupied after February 1, 1995 are exempt under state law. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

Is an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), that is, a second dwelling unit located on the same lot as a single-family home, exempt from the rent cap?

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that received its initial certificate of occupancy on or before February 1, 1995 is covered under the ordinance. However, an ADU first occupied after February 1, 1995 is exempt under state law. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

If a single-family home and accessory dwelling unit (ADU) are both being rented and are located on the same lot, is one or both of these units subject to the rent cap?

Both units may be subject to the rent cap. State law does not specifically exempt “single family dwellings” as such. Rather, it exempts a dwelling unit if it “is alienable separate from the title to any other dwelling unit or is a subdivided interest in a subdivision ….” If both the single-family home and the ADU are located on the same lot, they could not be sold separately and would not be exempt from the rent cap under this state law exemption. However, if either unit received its initial certificate of occupancy after February 1, 1995, then that particular unit is exempt. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

How does the rent cap impact a Landlord’s ability to increase the rent for a single-family home, or separately owned condominium or townhome?

Detached single-family homes that do not include an ADU on the same lot, and separately owned condominiums and townhomes are exempt from the rent cap under the state law exemption for dwelling units that are “alienable separate from the title to any other dwelling unit.” Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, a Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

Are mobilehomes protected by the rent cap?

An owner-occupied mobilehome is exempt from the rent cap (in that the ordinance does not apply to the rent for the space on which the mobilehome is located). However, a mobilehome offered for rent by the owner of the mobilehome is subject to the rent cap. Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, a Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 2.B)

Does the ordinance apply to commercial properties?

The Ordinance does not apply to structures that are used solely for commercial purposes and are not used as places of human habitation. However, the Ordinance does apply to joint living and working quarters.

What is the cap on rent increases?

Rent increases for covered rental units during the one-year term of the ordinance are limited to three percent (3%) over the rent that was in effect on June 11, 2019. Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, a Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 4.A)

Does the 3% cap apply to other amenities for which the Tenant is being charged (i.e. storage, garage, parking, etc.)?

Yes. The total payment required for occupancy of the unit and other “housing services” cannot be increased by more than 3%. (See Ordinance Sections 3 and 4.C)

Does the 3% cap prevent the Landlord from charging a late fee?

No. A Landlord can charge a reasonable late fee to a Tenant who does not pay rent on time, if the lease or rental agreement contains a late fee provision. The amount of the late fee would not be included in the rent cap.

Is the rent cap “retroactive” to a date prior to its adoption?

The City Council established a reference date of June 11, 2019 with regard to the rent cap. What that means is that a Landlord may not increase a Tenant’s rent by more than 3% of the monthly rent in effect on June 11, 2019. Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, a Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 4.A)

How often may a Landlord increase a Tenant’s rent?

A Landlord may not increase a Tenant household’s rent more than once in any 12-month period following the effective date of the ordinance. Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, a Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 4.A.3)

Are there any circumstances under which a Landlord may increase a Tenant’s rent beyond the 3% cap during the 12-month interim period?

If a Landlord desires to increase a Tenant’s rent over the 3% cap during the 12-month interim period, the Landlord may file a Petition for Relief from Interim Ordinance with the Housing Division. The Landlord will have the burden of proof of demonstrating that the 3% rent cap will prevent the Landlord from receiving a fair and reasonable return with respect to the operation of the property. (See Ordinance Section 8.A)

If the unit is vacant, is there a cap on the rent a Landlord may charge to a new Tenant?

No. If the unit was vacant when the ordinance went into effect on August 12, 2019, there are no restrictions on the amount of rent a Landlord may charge for an initial tenancy of that unit. In addition, if a unit becomes vacant after the ordinance went into effect, there are no restrictions on the amount of rent a Landlord may charge for a new tenancy of that unit. In either case, the Landlord may not subsequently increase the rent charged by more than 3% during the 12-month period. (See Ordinance Section 4.B)

What if a Landlord, prior to the adoption of the ordinance, increased a Tenant’s rent by more than 3%?

If the rent in effect when the ordinance was adopted on August 12, 2019 is more than 3% above the rent in effect on June 11, 2019, the Landlord must provide the Tenant with a credit for the amount of the overpayment. The Landlord may either: (1) pay the Tenant the amount of the overpayment directly in one lump sum; or (2) give the Tenant a credit against the rent due over a six-month period. The same applies if the rent is increased after the ordinance was adopted on August 12, 2019. (See Ordinance Section 4.A.2)

If I received a notice for a rent increase that I believe to be unlawful under the Ordinance, do I need to pay the increased rental amount?

It is unlawful for a Landlord to charge rent for a Covered Rental Unit that exceeds the 3% cap on increases and/or for a Landlord to retain payment of an illegal rent increase. However, the interim ordinance does not authorize a Tenant to withhold rent before there is a determination that the increase is illegal under the ordinance. Tenants could put themselves in legal jeopardy if they withhold the requested rent and the rent increase was, in fact, lawful. If you believe that you reside in a Covered Rental Unit and that the increase exceeds the 3% cap, you should immediately notify your Landlord in writing that you believe the increase exceeds what is allowed under the interim ordinance, with a copy of the letter sent to the Housing Division at the address below.

You may also file a complaint with the Housing Division by filling out the Excessive Rent Complaint Form and/or contacting the Housing Division at (310) 253-5790 or rent.control@culvercity.org. You can also obtain a complaint form in person from the Housing Division at 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. If you have already paid the increased rent and it is confirmed that you reside in a Covered Rental Unit and the rent increase exceeds the 3% cap, you would be entitled to a rent credit for the amount of rent you paid in excess of the 3% cap. (See Ordinance Section 4.A.2) Please note: if your rent increase went into effect prior to June 11, 2019, you are responsible for the full amount of your rent, including the rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 4.A)

What if a covered rental unit is subject to a written lease agreement that began before the 12-month interim ordinance period?

If the tenancy is governed by a prior written lease agreement and the lease term expires during the 12-month interim period, the Landlord may increase the rent charged to that Tenant after the expiration of the lease term, but such increase cannot exceed the 3% rent cap. Even if the written lease agreement specifies the amount by which rent may be increased, such increase plus any additional increase imposed at expiration of the lease may not exceed 3% of the rent in effect on June 11, 2019. Regardless of any ordinance adopted by the City, the Landlord must comply with state law notice requirements prior to imposing a rent increase. (See Ordinance Section 4)

Will the Landlord Tenant Mediation Board still consider mediation requests for a rent increase received during the 12-month interim rent control period?

Yes, the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board remains in place and a Tenant may still request mediation for a rent increase, in accordance with the provisions of Culver City Municipal Code Chapter 15.09. The Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board will take into account the limitations imposed by the interim rent control ordinance.

Are the eviction protections and relocation assistance applicable to my rental unit?

The eviction protections and relocation assistance apply to all rental units in the City, with the exception of owner-occupied mobilehomes (which are governed by California’s Mobilehome Residency Law), and any dwelling unit that lacks its own bathroom or kitchen facility and is occupied by a Tenant who uses a bathroom or kitchen facility in common with the Landlord or a member of Landlord’s immediate family. The eviction protections and relocation assistance required by the ordinance apply even if the residential use is not legally permitted. (See Ordinance Sections 3.N, 5 and 6)

Does the ordinance prohibit a Landlord from evicting a Tenant?

A Landlord may not evict a Tenant unless the Landlord can show “for cause” or “no fault” grounds, and follows certain procedures, as set forth in the ordinance. The Notice of Termination must state a reason that qualifies as either “for cause” or “no fault” and the Landlord must deliver a copy of the Notice to the Housing Division within five days, along with proof of service on the Tenant.

“For cause” grounds for eviction could include failure to pay rent, violating a material “For cause” grounds for eviction could include failure to pay rent, violating a material term of the rental agreement, refusing to allow the Landlord to enter the unit, using the unit for an illegal purpose or to create a nuisance, committing or threatening to commit certain criminal acts, and failing to correct a dangerous and unsanitary condition. “No fault” evictions could occur when the Landlord intends to demolish the rental unit or remove it from the rental market or if the Landlord intends to use the rental unit as a manager’s unit, or if the rental unit will be occupied by certain members of the Landlord’s family, or if the unit will be used as supportive housing for a person who requires special services.

Tenants who have lived in the unit for at least ten years and are age 62 or over or have a disability are protected from “no fault” evictions, as are Tenants who are terminally ill. It is important to refer to the ordinance for a more complete description of the specific provisions that may apply to your situation. (See Ordinance Section 5)

If a landlord wishes to rehabilitate or renovate a rental unit, is the landlord permitted to terminate the occupant’s tenancy for that purpose?

No. Rehabilitation or renovation of a rental unit is not included as a permissible ground for termination of the tenancy under the ordinance. However, if it is necessary for the unit to be vacated in order for the landlord to comply with a government order to correct a violation of the Culver City Municipal Code or other law, then the landlord may terminate the tenancy. In that case, the tenant would be entitled to receive relocation assistance. (See Ordinance Section 5 and Section 6)

Does a Tenant have any protections if they received a notice of termination of tenancy prior to the effective date of the ordinance?

Yes. The eviction protections apply to a Tenant who received a notice of termination of tenancy prior to the effective date of the ordinance (August 12, 2019), but who had not yet vacated the unit as of that date. (See Ordinance Section 5.A)

Am I eligible for relocation assistance?

If you have been the subject of a “no fault” eviction, you may be entitled to relocation assistance in the amount of three (3) times your current monthly rent, plus one thousand dollars ($1,000). For example, if your rent is $1,500 per month, you could be eligible for total relocation assistance of $5,500 ($1,500 x 3 = $4,500; plus $1,000 = $5,500). Your relocation assistance may be offset by unpaid rent or other monies due the Landlord for costs resulting from extraordinary wear and tear or damage to the unit, cleaning, and similar costs exceeding the amount of your security deposit and may also be offset any other relocation benefits to which you may be entitled pursuant to any other provision, of local, state or federal law. There are some limited situations where the Landlord is not required to pay relocation assistance, so it is important to refer to the ordinance for the specific provisions that may apply to your situation. (See Ordinance Section 6)

How soon must the Landlord pay the required relocation assistance?

The Landlord must pay one-half (1/2) of the relocation assistance no later than five (5) business days following service of the notice to a Tenant of the termination and one-half (1/2) of the relocation assistance no later than five (5) business days after the Tenant has vacated the rental unit. If the Landlord fails to pay relocation assistance, you can file a Complaint of Failure to Pay Relocation Assistance. To obtain a complaint form, please contact the Housing Division at (310) 253-5790 or rent.control@culvercity.org, or you can obtain a complaint form in person from the Housing Division at 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA. (See Ordinance Section 6)

Is every Landlord required to obtain a Rent Registration certificate?

Yes. Every Landlord of a rental unit must, within 180 days of the effective date of the ordinance, submit the information required to obtain a Rent Registration certificate. The Landlord may continue to collect rent on the unit, so long as the rent does not exceed the limit imposed by the ordinance. (See Ordinance Section 7 and Guideline/Rule 2019-01)

What are the penalties imposed on a Landlord for violation of the ordinance?

A Landlord may be subject to various penalties, including administrative fines up to $1,000 for each violation (each day a violation exists constitutes a separate violation). In addition, an aggrieved Tenant may bring a civil suit in court. In a civil suit brought by a Tenant, a Landlord found to be in violation of the ordinance shall be liable to the Tenant, including the payment of Tenant’s attorneys’ fees and costs plus any special damages authorized by state law. (See Ordinance Sections 9 and 10)