Santa Cruz rent control campaign announced

The Santa Cruz Tenant Organizing Committee is organizing a rent control campaign for 2018. The campaign grew out of a cooperative initiative between University of California, Santa Cruz students and staff and community partners.

The campaign is based on findings outlined in the No Place Like Home project. The project was launched to raise awareness of rental shortages and unaffordable living spaces.

Facing a housing crisis

Rental pricing in Santa Cruz is outpacing wage increases and many renters are feeling the squeeze of rent burden. Affordable housing means paying no more than 30 percent of household income, but statistics show that renters are increasingly shelling out closer to 50 percent of their income for rent. To combat the high costs of traditional rental units, tenants are subletting unconventional and potentially hazardous dwellings, such as pool sheds, closets and garages converted into living quarters. Public outcry is gathering momentum, leading to the proposed rent control campaign.

What is rent control?

Rent control laws govern when and how much a landlord can increase rent and evictions. The laws vary regionally and may have certain restrictions, such as how much notice is necessary before increasing rent. Understand, rent control does not mean that your rent is at a fixed rate forever, it just puts limits on how much your rent can increase and when.

For example, as a landlord, if you wished to raise your tenant’s rent by more than 10 percent, you would need to provide a 60 day notice before enacting the increase. Depending on the exact laws for tenant eviction, you might only be able to evict your tenant for just cause. This means you can’t evict someone unless you have a valid reason to terminate tenancy, such as failure to pay rent or violation of the rental agreement.

Remember, there is not a standard rental agreement or lease. Before signing any real estate agreement it is important for both tenants and landlords to fully read and understand all the accompanying documentation.

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