Santa Monica : Law to Bolster Family Rental Rights Gains

The City Council tentatively approved an ordinance to strengthen the city's laws prohibiting discrimination in the rental market against families with children.

If the ordinance is passed, a landlord could not evict a tenant who gives birth to or adopts a child. Nor could the landlord evict a newly married renter whose spouse moves into the unit.

A landlord could not tell a family with children that a vacant unit is not available or advertise that a unit is not available to families with children. A landlord would be permitted to question a prospective renter about the size of his or her family.

The council also deleted a provision in the old law that permits a landlord not to rent to families with children when 40% of the building is occupied by families with children. City Atty. Robert M. Myers said such a quota may be unconstitutional.

Several landlords testified against the ordinance at a public hearing. They complained that the ordinance would drastically increase the population in the city. Some tenants testified that they had experienced discrimination in Santa Monica because they had children.

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