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One in Ten Santa Monica Rent Control Tenants Failed to Pay Full Rent Last Two Months, Survey Shows
 

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

May 28, 2020 -- As rent becomes due Monday, a survey found that approximately 10 percent of Santa Monica rent control tenants did not pay their full rent in April and May due to the impacts of the coronavirus emergency.

The ongoing survey of landlords and tenants conducted by the Rent Board and presented at its meeting last Thursday provides a glimpse of the economic impacts of the shutdown on the beach city.

The 129 owners and managers who responded to the survey represent a total of 2,787 units, or approximately 10 percent of the city's 27,381 rent control units.

They reported that in April, tenants in 247 units, or about 9 percent, did not pay their full rent in April and 312, or about 11 percent, did not pay their full rent in May.

The 232 tenants who responded to the survey painted a bleaker picture, with 7 percent saying they paid no rent in April, and 9 percent saying they paid partial rent.

The numbers ticked up in May, with 12 percent saying they paid no rent and 11 percent saying they paid partial rent.

Of those who paid the rent in full, 27 percent said they were concerned about the June rent, while the number rose to 64 percent among those who reported losing income due to the shutdown.

The number jumped to 93 percent for those who said they weren't able to pay the full rent in May.

Rent Board officials caution that the numbers may be skewed high because tenants struggling to pay the rent may have been more willing to take the survey.

"It is reasonable to assume that those who are affected would be more likely to participate in the survey," said Dan Costello, the Board's public information manager.

It is unclear from the survey results how tenants might fare when the June rent rolls around.

While half of all tenants said they have had difficulty paying the rent, some also said they were awaiting stimulus or unemployment checks, according to the survey.

Under an emergency order issued by the City, Santa Monica tenants who can show they were unable to pay rent due to the impacts of COVID-19 have a year to come up with the back rent.

The extra six-month grace period was part of a revised order issued April 30 that extends the City's temporary eviction moratorium from May 31 to June 30 ("City Gives Tenants Strapped by Coronavirus Shutdown One Year to Pay Back Rent," April 30, 2020).

The order gives tenants 12 months after the moratorium is lifted to pay the rent they owe before they can be evicted.

On Tuesday, the City Council allocated $2 million from the Housing Trust Fund to help between 250 and 450 low-income seniors in rent-controlled apartments pay their rent.

Another 307 low-and moderate income tenants will receive money to help pay their rent for three months, with $1,605,265 coming from federal Community Development Block Grants funds made available in the CARES Act.

The Council also allocated $251,534 to staff the two programs ("City Releases Plan to Restore Programs Slashed Due to Coronavirus Shutdown," May 22, 2020).

"A process will begin to set up the necessary partnerships and infrastructure to implement a City-wide assistance program when the local eviction moratorium lifts," said City spokesperson Constance Farrell.


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