Santa Ana passes Orange County’s first rent-control law

Hikes capped at 3 percent annually, new “just-cause” protections against evictions in place

Santa Ana City Council & aerial of the city of Santa Ana, California (iStock,
Santa Ana City Council & aerial of the city of Santa Ana, California (iStock,

Santa Ana is the first city in Orange County with rent control and just-cause eviction protections.

The Santa Ana City Council approved the rent-control measure in a 4-3 vote last week, a reflection of the divisive nature of the law, according to the Voice of OC. The measure goes into effect on November 19.

The measure instituted a slew of eviction protections and caps rent hikes at some properties at 3 percent per year or 80 percent of the percent change in the Consumer Price Index. That means that rents cannot be raised if the percentage change in the CPI is negative.

Properties covered under the law are those built before February 1, 1995, a cutoff required to comply with the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, passed that same year.

Under the new law, protected Santa Ana renters cannot be evicted without just cause. Examples of at-fault just cause include failure to pay rent, material breach of a lease, and committing criminal activity on the rented property.

Tenants can also be evicted for no-fault just-cause reasons, including when a landlord wants to occupy the unit themselves or give it to a family member, or when the landlord takes the unit off the market for more than 24 months.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

No-fault evictions, however, require the landlord to provide three months of relocation assistance or waive rent for the final three months of tenancy, according to the Santa Ana municipal government website.

Landlords can ask the city for an exemption from the measure in the pursuit of a “fair and reasonable” return on their investment.

Tenant advocates have long sought to repeal Costa-Hawkins. State lawmakers tried and failed to repeal the law in 2018, and a ballot measure to do so failed last year.

The 2018 defeat did motivate state lawmakers to pass a suite of new tenant protection measures, however.

Several jurisdictions have already instituted eviction protectionssimilar to Santa Ana’s new measure. They included Los Angeles County, Inglewood, and Culver City. [Voice of OC] — Dennis Lynch