Review of Required 1-Year Lease Offers  

The City of Santa Barbara recently enacted an ordinance that requires landlords to offer written one-year leases to tenants. This is a brief breakdown of the ordinance. To view the full ordinance, view the Santa Barbara Municipal Code Chapter 26.40 here.

What is this Ordinance and who does it apply to?

This Ordinance requires landlords in the City of Santa Barbara to offer a one-year written lease to all tenants. The landlord’s signing of a lease which has a minimum term of one year shall be considered an offer in writing.
The following do NOT need to offer a one-year lease:

a) A single-family dwelling
b) Rooms or accommodations in hotels or boarding houses which are lawfully rented to transient guests for a period of less than thirty days
c) Dwelling units in a condominium, community apartment, planned development or stock cooperative, or in a limited equity stock cooperative as defined in the California Business and Professions Code
d) Dwelling units in which housing accommodations are shared by landlord and tenant
e) Housing accommodations in any hospital, extended care facility, asylum, non-profit home for the aged, or in dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education, a high school or an elementary school
f) Housing accommodations rented by a medical institution which are then subleased to a patient or patient's family
g) Dwelling units whose rents are controlled or regulated by any government unit, agency, or authority, or whose rent is subsidized by any government unit, agency, or authority
h) Dwelling units acquired by the city of Santa Barbara or any other governmental unit, agency or authority and intended to be used for a public purpose
i) Accessory Dwelling Units.

When does this Ordinance take effect?

The mandatory offer of a one-year lease shall be implemented no later than August 6, 2019, unless:

a) There is currently a written lease. When the lease expires then this ordinance shall apply
b) An owner-occupied unit that is rented to a tenant for less than one year
c) A rental unit occupied by a tenant who subleases that unit to another tenant for less than one year
d) A rental unit where tenancy is an express condition of, or consideration for employment under a written rental agreement or contract
e) Lawfully operated vacation rentals.

Is offering the lease a one-time offer or continual?

Leases must continually be offered year-after-year, even if the tenant has rejected the one-year lease offer in the past.

What happens if the tenant or the landlord don’t want a one-year lease?

Rejection by prospective tenant or tenant - The rejection must be in writing (signed and dated by tenant). Rejection forms can be:

a) prepared by the city attorney and made available through the City’s website OR
b) prepared by the landlord or tenant to communicate the rejection.

Non-renewal of leases by landlords - If the landlord does not wish to continue the rental relationship, then at the time the landlord delivers notice of such termination, the tenant shall be offered a one-session conciliation meeting (non-binding) with the landlord using the Santa Barbara Rental Housing Mediation Board, if available, or a qualified mediator of mutual choice and provided at mutual expense.