Project Description

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DISCLAIMER: This In Brief section offers a series of business, real estate, employment, estate planning and tax bulletins prepared by the attorneys at Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, LLP. This is not exhaustive, nor is it legal advice. You should discuss your particular situation with us or with your own attorney. Our legal representation is only undertaken through a written engagement letter and not by the distribution or use of this information.

Q:  As a Santa Barbara City landlord, do I really have to offer yearly leases to my tenants? Why can’t I have regular monthly arrangements as in the past?  Shouldn’t it be my choice?

The City has passed an ordinance effective September 19, 2019 concerning rentals with the City, other than single family residences and commercial units.   Basically, the choice on a rental is with the tenant, but the tenant can opt for a monthly rental arrangement.  The effort was done to have some housing stability for tenants and to avoid rental increases during the year but then the State of California just enacted rental control statewide restricting rent increases to 5% plus a local cost of living increase.

It’s pretty easy to comply with the City’s ordinance:

  • Send a letter to your monthly tenants offering monthly or yearly arrangements
  • Include in the letter a written option for the tenant to just stay on the monthly arrangement – to be returned in 14 days
  • If the tenant responds and chooses the monthly arrangement, the arrangement can be monthly for a year (keep this writing – oral does not count)
  • If the tenant does not respond, do a yearly lease and have them (and you) sign it

If you do not want this tenant for a yearly lease, you should consider evicting the tenant before signing a yearly lease.  When the year lapses, you are not required to continue with the tenant and can raise your rent as you desire – subject to the State law limits noted above.   If you need forms for the above, please do not hesitate to give me a call.  Letter and notices are free; leases are not.

S. Timothy Buynak, Partner