(831) 475-1355 After-Hours Emergency: (831) 621-1888

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ INTERIM RENT FREEZE AND JUST-CAUSE EVICTION ORDINANCES

Frequently Asked Questions

This guide is intended to assist landlords, tenants, property managers, Realtors, and potential rental property owners understand how the City Council’s recently adopted interim rent increase moratorium and just-cause eviction ordinances apply in the City of Santa Cruz. It explains the basic provisions of the Santa Cruz’s interim rent control law and certain state laws relating to rental housing.  

The information in this guide is not a substitute for legal advice.  Specific questions concerning the ordinance’s application to your individual circumstances should be directed to your own attorney.  The Santa Cruz County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service (831-425-4755) can refer you to an experienced attorney for a 30-minute consultation for an administrative fee of $50.

What is the Rent Freeze/Just-Cause Eviction Ordinance?

On Tuesday, February 13th, the City Council adopted two separate ordinances as emergency measures: a Rent Freeze Ordinance restricting the amount landlords can increase rents for certain types of rental units; and a Just-Cause Eviction Ordinance, restricting the grounds upon which landlords can evict tenants, with certain specified exceptions.

Where can I obtain copies of the Ordinances?

The Rent Freeze and Just Cause Eviction Ordinances are posted on the web page of the Santa Cruz City Clerk, or may be accessed by clicking this link.

When do the Ordinances take effect?

Adopted as “emergency” measures pursuant to the Santa Cruz City Charter, both ordinances took effect immediately upon adoption, i.e., on February 13th, 2018.

How long will the Ordinances remain in effect?

The ordinances were adopted as a temporary measure to preserve the status quo while a citizens’ group seeks to qualify an initiative for the November 2018 ballot that would add permanent rent control/just cause eviction restrictions to the Santa Cruz City Charter, and will automatically expire if the initiative fails to qualify for the ballot or pass in the election, or will be replaced by the initiative if it passes.

Rent Freeze Ordinance

What types of rentals are covered by the Rent Freeze Ordinance?

The Rent Freeze Ordinance limits the amount landlords can increase rents for all rental units except the following:

  • Single-family residences, condominiums, and townhouses that are separately owned;
  • Rental units with an initial certificate of occupancy dated on or after February 1, 1995;
  • Hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts and other short-term rentals;
  • Hospitals, convents, residential care facilities, dormitories and other group homes;
  • Government-owned units, Section 8 subsidized units, and other units exempted by State or Federal Law.
Why aren’t all rentals covered by the Rent Freeze Ordinance?

State law (the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act) prohibits cities from enforcing rent increase restrictions on the categories of rental units listed as exempt above.

Does the Rent Freeze Ordinance apply to duplexes and ADUs?

Yes. Accessory dwelling units and duplexes are not exempt from the requirements of the Rent Freeze Ordinance, unless they received an initial certificate of occupancy after February 1, 1995.

What is the effect of the Rent Freeze for a covered unit?

During the moratorium period, landlords may not increase rent for any rental not otherwise exempted by the Ordinance or State law by more than 2%.

What if the landlord already gave notice of a rent increase before the Rent Freeze Ordinance was adopted?

The 2% rent increase restriction applies to all rent increases that take effect after the effective date of the Ordinance, regardless of when notice was provided to the tenant. Accordingly, any rent increase that would take effect after February 13, 2018 must be in compliance with the Rent Freeze Ordinance.

My rent was already increased by more than 2% shortly before the Rent Freeze Ordinance was adopted. Can it be increased again within one year of the prior increase?

The Rent Freeze Ordinance only restricts rent increases that take effect after the Ordinance’s effective date. Accordingly, it could be increased again, up to 2%, during the moratorium period.

How does the Ordinance apply to new tenants?

Under State law, landlords are entitled to set the initial amount at which a rental unit is offered for rent. The Ordinance restricts the amount that landlords may increase rents thereafter.

Are there any exceptions for covered units that are significantly “below market” due to rents not having increased for several years?

A landlord who believes that application of the Ordinance’s rental increase moratorium deprives him or her of a “just and reasonable return on their investment” can petition the City Manager for a determination of the amount of rent necessary to provide a just, fair and reasonable return and authorization for an increase to such amount. The City Manager’s Office is in the process of developing regulations establishing procedures and standards for such determinations.

Just Cause Eviction

What does “Just Cause Eviction” mean?

Just cause eviction ordinances protect tenants from arbitrary, discriminatory or retaliatory evictions, while ensuring that landlords can lawfully evict tenants as long as they have a good reason. Just cause eviction ordinances are a tool for promoting tenant stability, particularly in low vacancy and expensive housing markets where landlords may be tempted to evict tenants in order to obtain higher rents.

What types of rentals are covered by the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance?

The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance applies to all residential rentals, except:

  • A rental unit that constitutes the landlord’s sole rental property;
  • The following categories of rental units, if the landlord resides on-site:
    • A single-family residence;
    • Duplexes;
    • A single-family residence with an accessory dwelling unit.
Could you please clarify what constitutes a "landlord’s sole rental property” for purposes of the above-mentioned exemption? Is this based on distinct habitable units that are rented to different individuals, or is this based on the parcel of land owned by the property owner?

The exemption only applies to an individual rental unit that constitutes the landlord’s sole rental property. Accordingly, a property that has more than one rental unit, including a duplex or a singlefamily residence with an accessory dwelling unit, would not qualify for the exemption.

What are the permissible grounds for eviction under the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance?

Under the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, the following are the permissible grounds for eviction:

  1. Failure to pay rent;
  2. Material breach of the terms of a lease or rental agreement;
    1. Exception. Landlords may not terminate a tenancy as a result of the addition of a family member, such as the child, foster child, parent, sibling or spouse or partner;
  3. Committing or permitting the creation of a nuisance or cause substantial damage to a rental unit or common area, or creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety or enjoyment of any of the other residents of the property;
  4. Using or permitting the use of a rental unit for any illegal purpose;
  5. Refusing to give a landlord reasonable access to a rental unit after notice;
  6. The need to conduct substantial and necessary repairs to the rental unit in order to bring a unit into compliance with applicable codes and laws affecting public health and safety, provided that:
    1. The landlord has obtained all necessary permits from the City for such work;
    2. The repairs necessitate the tenant’s vacancy from the rental unit for at least thirty days;
    3. The landlord notifies the tenant of the right to return and reoccupy the rental unit (or a comparable unit on the same property) upon completion of the repairs at the same rent paid before the unit was vacated.
  7. The landlord seeks to recover possession of a rental unit for use and occupancy by the landlord or his or her family member, such as a child, foster child, stepchild, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or spouse or partner, subject to all of the restrictions mentioned below.
  8. The landlord seeks in good faith to permanently withdraw all rental units of an entire property from the rental housing market.
What are the restrictions on a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant for the purposes of occupying the unit as the landlord’s, or a family member’s, primary residence?

There are several restrictions on a landlord’s using the eviction process to recover a rental unit for the purpose of making it the landlord’s or a family member’s primary residence, including all of the following:

  1. The landlord must be a natural person with at least 50% ownership interest in the property.
  2. No eviction may take place if the landlord already occupies a unit on the property, or a vacancy exists.
  3. The notice to terminate must contain the name, address and relationship to the landlord of the person intended to occupy the unit.
  4. The landlord must intend in good faith to occupy the unit within 60 days after the tenant vacates, and to use it as a primary residence for at least 36 months.
  5. If the landlord fails to occupy the unit within 60 days after it is vacated, it must be offered back to the tenant who vacated at the same rent in effect when the tenant vacated.
  6. A landlord cannot evict a tenant for purposes of re-occupying a units as a primary residence if the tenant:
    1. Has lived there for at least 5 years
    2. OR is at least 62 years old or is certified as being terminally ill by a treating physician unless the landlord or relative who will occupy the unit also meet the age or disability criteria for this exemption and no other units are available.
How much notice is a tenant entitled to receive if evicted for purposes of making a rental unit available for the landlord’s or a relative’s permanent residence?

Under state law, a landlord must give 60 days’ advance written notice if all tenants have lived in the rental unit for a year or more, or 30 days’ notice if any tenant or resident has lived in the rental unit less than one year.

Can I be evicted because my landlord wants to remove my residence from the rental market entirely?

A landlord who seeks in good faith to withdraw all units of an entire property from the rental housing market may do so by providing not less than 120 days’ notice, or 1 year’s notice in the case of tenants defined as seniors or disabled under state law.

I lease a house with two other housemates. Our lease specifies that we are “jointly and severally liable” for the terms of the lease and that no new co-occupant/housemate other than a child born to an original Tenant can take up occupancy without the advance written permission of the Landlord. Do I need the Landlord’s consent to bring on another tenant if one of my housemates moves out?

Yes. The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance does not take precedence over the terms of a lease requiring the landlord’s consent to bring on an additional resident or sub-tenant, except for a family member, such as a parent, child, sibling or spouse. Accordingly, a landlord could evict a tenant who attempts to sublease a rental unit in violation of the terms of an existing lease.

Enforcement

Can I be evicted for reporting a violation of the Rent Freeze or Just Cause Eviction Ordinances?

No. The Ordinances prohibit landlords from evicting or taking any retaliatory action against a tenant who reports a violation.

How will the Ordinances be enforced?

A tenant who believes that a landlord has violated any provision of the Rent Freeze and Just Cause
Eviction Ordinances, including accepting payment of rent in excess of the amount authorized by the Rent Freeze Ordinance may bring a civil suit in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. In a civil suit, a prevailing tenant may recover all damages, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Additionally, if a court finds that a landlord has acted willfully or with oppression, fraud or malice, the tenant may be entitled to treble (triple) damages. In addition, the City may independently take enforcement action against any violation of the Rent Control or Just Cause Eviction Ordinances.

Our Property Management Office

Our Location

1210 Brommer St,
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-1355 | (831) 475-1428
rentals@portolarentals.com
After-Hours EMERGENCY: (831) 621-1888
CA DRE #01857047

What People Are Saying About Us

Community Affiliations

Portola Property Management has had the opportunity to make charitable donations and/or partner with the following organizations:

We Do Business in Accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law which states it is illegal to Discriminate Against Any Person Because of Race, Color, Religion, Sex, Handicap, Familial Status, National Origin, or Sexual Orientation.

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like to learn more about our properties and what it’s like to work with Portola Property Management, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk more about our rental properties, our application requirements, and our leasing process.

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Portola Property Management

1210 Brommer St,
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-1355 | (831) 475-1428
rentals@portolarentals.com
After-Hours Emergency: (831) 621-1888
CA DRE #02025654

We are proud to share with you our very successful Pet Program!

Kathleen started this program to create more pet friendly housing for tenants, while also soothing any worries property owners may have about accepting pets.

We meet all pets before they move in. Upon approval, an additional $250 per pet is added to the tenant’s security deposit. Twice a year, a representative from Portola Property Management will complete a visual walkthrough of the home. The tenant fee for this is $50 per walkthrough at a total of $100 per year. It is VERY rare that we find any issues in the home, but if found, tenants must correct it at that time. When great tenants find great pet friendly housing, they tend to stay long term.

We take pride in offering about 50% pet friendly housing!

You can meet some of our furry tenants below.

Name: Charlie Tiger
Interests: Daily Siesta, performs head butt tricks, and enjoys the finer things in life such as Pate.

 

 

Name: Blue
Interests:play tug of war. Blue is social and happiest being the center of attention

 

 

Name: Peanut Butter and Jelly

 

 

 

Name: Guero
Interests: loves to cuddle up in a warm spot.

 

 

Name: Roman
Interests: Running on the beach.

 

 

Name: Mollie
Interests: Going to the groomers and napping in the sun.

 

 

Name: Mittens
Interests: hunting for critters, playing with my favorite toys, purring on my owner’s lap and looking pretty.

 

Name: Max
Interests: Modeling, helping Santa when called upon, love kids of all ages

 

 

Name: Maggie
Interests: Where’s the bird…I love being active, running, retrieving, swimming, jumping you name it. I am most happy outside but enjoy curling up on my bed and relaxing at the end of a long day.

 

Name: Kale
Interests: Cuddle, Sleep, Run in the forest, and Sun Bathe on the beach.

 

 

Name: Jack & Jill
Interests: Chasing birds, retrieving balls and getting massages.

 

 

Name: Hot Sauce
Interests: Hunting socks.

 

 

Name: Daphne
Interests: Going for long walks on the beach, sleeping by the fire, listening to music.

 

 

Rental Criteria
Basic Criteria
Selection of a resident is based on income, credit, and tenant history or ownership. Each applicant must qualify individually based on references and credit, while the income requirement can be met as a household. Negative findings on one or more of the three areas can cause denial of an application. Denial of one application results in the denial of all applications.
Income
  • Monthly household gross income must equal three (3) times the stated monthly rent. PPM must be able to verify all income sources and reserves the right to disqualify applicants for failure to prove income and/or supply adequate documentation.
  • You are required to supply reasonable, reliable, and legal documentation on all income in either of the following forms:
    Last two paycheck stubs.

    • Recent tax returns or W2.
    • Award letters (i.e. alimony, SSI, child support, new employment offer letter)
    • Self-employed individuals must be verified through State, or Federal tax returns.
Credit
  • PPM obtains a credit report for all applicants, and does not accept copies of credit reports from applicants, no exceptions. Good credit is required. Negative credit reports can be grounds for denial of an application.
  • Outstanding bad debts being reported on credit report of more than $100.00 but less than $1,000.00 may be accepted with proper explanation and proof.
  • After a bankruptcy has been discharged, applicant must show six (6) months of positive established credit.
Rental History or Property Ownership
PPM requires a minimum of two (2) years of rental history and/or proof of homeownership. Negative references can be grounds for denial of an application.
All references must be third party and verifiable.
PPM will make a reasonable attempt to contact references provided. PPM reserves the right to decline tenancy based on inability to contact reference provided.
Responsibility of Applicant
It is the responsibility of the applicant to inquire from PPM about any information on the application that they do not understand.
If notified, it is the responsibility of the applicant to accept the offer to rent by submitting a holding deposit.
Automatic Denials
1) Giving false information is automatic grounds for denial.
2) Three (3) or more 3-Day Notices within a 12 month period will result in denial.
3) Two (2) or more NSF checks within a 12 month period will result in denial.
4) Rental history reflecting any unpaid past due rent will result in denial.
5) Rental history reflecting any property damage or disturbance will result in denial.
6) Any collection filed by a property management company or landlord will result in denial.
7) Any applicant with unlawful detainer action or eviction within the past three (3) years will be denied.
8) If unable to verify the income necessary to pay rent, applicant will be denied.
9) Excessive collections will result in denial.
10) Outstanding debt to property management or landlord will result in denial.
11) Any applicant with a bankruptcy not shown as discharged will be denied until shown otherwise.

Rose

Leasing Assistant

Duties: Provides administrative support, processes applications, and maintains ads.

Education: BA in English Literature and has taken graduate level classes in Linguistics

After Hours: On weekends, when Rose is not with a book or spending time with friends, she likes to relax and binge-watch movies and series all day.


Fred Thompson

Maintenance Professional

Duties: Support Portola PM Owners/Tenants with their maintenance requests and provide excellent customer service.

“I am the “MacGyver” of Property Maintenance, providing creative solutions to all your unique property needs.”

Experience: Over 10 yrs experience in residential remodeling, repair, and property management in Santa Cruz County.

After Hours: Scuba diving, RV camping, and enjoying the local music scene with my wife & friends.


Steve Thompson

Construction Specialist

Duties: Construction and maintenance

Experience: Over 30 years of general building construction and maintenance.

After Hours: Spending time with Heidi, enjoying life’s adventures along the way. Surfing, Biking, Scuba Diving, Camping, and traveling.


Liliane Molda

Resident Pre-Inspection Coordinator

Duties: Pre-Move-out Inspections

Experience: Licensed Realtor with Lawrie & Lawrie, property management experience

After Hours: Spending time with family, friends, and enjoying the beach and nature


Sue Gerwin

Client Care / Office Manager

Duties: Provide Excellent Customer Service and Office Support

Experience: 11 years in customer service, admin support positions, 10 years as business owner and operations manager, 10 years experience in commerical and residential leasing.

After Hours: Cooking & Camping.


Roxanne Ramos

Accounting Clerk

Duties: Handles all accounting associated with properties. Interacts with property owners and tenants.

Experience: 7 years with Portola PM, and 15 years property management experience.

After Hours: Enjoys time with family and friends.


Michael Catalano

President

Duties: Strategic & Leadership Development, Operations Management.

Goal: To provide excellent customer service, to manage properties efficiently, to maximize the investors return, to provide tenants with quality housing.
Mike grew up in real estate and property management and learned at the age of 10 how to take a maintenance call. Mike has over 20 years’ professional experience in all facets of real estate and property management.

He is currently the CEO of NextGen Property Ventures, Inc., with offices in Roseville, CA & Real Estate Connections in Los Gatos, both real estate investment and property management firms. Mike sits on the boards of Fourandhalf, an internet marketing company specializing in property management and of HappyCo, a mobile application for property inspections. Mike is a sought after industry speaker on the topics of property management firm acquisitions, real estate investments, and real estate marketing best practices. He is a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors) and CAR (California Association of Realtors), and NAPRM (National Association of Residential Property Managers).

After Hours: Mike grew up in Saratoga and has family ties to Santa Cruz. Mike is married with 2 children and in his “free time”, he enjoys golf, coaching his kids’ sports teams, and relaxing with his family.

CA DRE: #01824514

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Call or text us at (831) 824-5199 during business hours.

We guarantee that a team member will be on the other end to answer any questions you may have.

Get A Free Rental Analysis

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How to Rent One of Our Properties!

Read the property listing
• We want you to know what is and is not included with the property!
Review our Criteria and a SAMPLE LEASE.
• We want you to self-evaluate whether it’s worth your time to apply and to be comfortable with the future lease you could be signing.
Drive by the property – Do not disturb any current residents
• We want you to like the neighborhood you might be moving to!
Call (831) 475-1282 or email rentals@portolarentals.com for a showing for ALL intended residents who are 18 and over.
• We cannot accept applications until everyone 18 and up in your party has attended a showing of the property.
Once you have completed these steps, you can provide all of the following online for each resident who is 18 and up by clicking on “Apply Now” on the property listing
• An Application
• Proof of income
• Copy of Photo ID
• Payment for the non-refundable $35 application fee
• [If you are unable to submit an application online, please notify our office at time of setting up showing]
Please allow 24-48 hours for the processing of an application (additional time may be needed during the busy season or if references do not return calls quickly).
We may receive multiple applications for this property. We do not necessarily select the first application submitted. Selection of a resident is based upon better credit history, rental references, Proof of Income, Number and type of pets if allowed, and Move-in date.
Next Steps:
1. You will hear from us whether your application is approved or denied.
2. If your application was in good standing, but another application was stronger, you can apply your application towards any of our other properties for 30 days for free (you will still need to attend a showing).
3. If you are offered to rent a property, you will need to turn in a Holding Deposit within 48 hours to secure it in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. This is always in the amount of a half month’s rent made out to PPM and is fully applied towards your move in funds.
4. By your established move in date, you will have started any necessary utilities, submitted proof of renter’s insurance, signed your lease, turned in your remaining move in funds, and can pick up keys! At this point we will have already completed a report of the property and you will have the opportunity to add any comments you would like; we do not do a walkthrough of the property with you.

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Diana Wilson

Admin Assistant / Receptionist

 

Hello, my name is Diana Wilson. Though I grew up in Santa Clara I had often found myself spending most of my time in the surrounding Santa Cruz area. In January of 2018  my son and I had made the move over the hill and became permanent residents of Aptos. In March of 2018, I was honored to have joined the Portola Property Management team as an administrative assistant/receptionist. I have five years of previous experience in property management working as an assistant to property managers as well as a maintenance coordinator. I am furthering my education to advance my career in the property management field. While we are talking about the field, I am also a huge baseball fan. Go Giants!