County ‘rental property’ notice sparks homeowner confusion

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Residents in unincorporated Los Angeles County were told Thursday to ignore a recent notice concerning home registry from the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, according to officials in Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office.  

The notice, which a number of residents in the communities surrounding the city of Santa Clarita received this week, was “not communicated properly” when it told all property owners who received it to “register their rental units and/or mobile home spaces,” according to officials.  

Registration fees would be waived for the homeowners if they registered their home on or before Jan. 1. However, failure to do so would result in $90 and/or $30 fees, depending on the registered unit, between Jan. 2-Sept.30; after Oct. 1, 2022, a 10% late fee would be added.  

The notice also informs property owners that they must register their rental units and/or mobile home spaces “annually and report any changes to the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.”  

Many of those who received the notice said they did not have rental properties and resided within the home that the notice was sent to, causing them confusion and long wait times on hold with the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.  

“People up here, moved into a mobile home, built their house and left the mobile home on the property for when Grandma or the kids come to visit or something, they can use it,” said Judy Reinsma, a San Francisquito Canyon Road resident. “But nobody rents them out. They don’t want strangers on their property.”  

At least one of her friends without renters who lives near the Vista Valencia golf course received a notice as well, Reinsma said. During the past week, the Nextdoor app for similar communities throughout the Santa Clarita Valley expressed similar confusion as Reinsma.  

On Thursday, the San Francisquito Canyon Road resident said she received clarification, with a county staff member informing her that it was a breakdown in communication and that all homeowners do need to register their homes in unincorporated L.A. County, but there should have been a box indicating that she was the “owner,” as opposed to just the “landlord” or “renter.”  

“The letter wasn’t sent in error,” said Gina Ender, a spokeswoman for Barger’s office. “The department sent it to all property owners purposefully because their end goal is to ultimately have every owner, regardless if they rent their property, registered in their system. The issue was that goal was not communicated properly.” 

“The letter was intentional, but residents didn’t know why they were receiving it,” Ender added. 

According to Ender, the rent stabilization ordinance envisioned having a complete inventory of potential rental properties in unincorporated areas — which do not include incorporated cities, such as Santa Clarita, but would include areas such as Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and other parts of the SCV that are not within the city. 

“The intent was to then require homeowners to notify the county if they subsequently rented out their property,” said Ender. “The request for the communications plan was made to DCBA a few days ago and they are working to put together a timeline.” 

Ender noted that Barger had voted against the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, a law that went into effect on April 1, 2020, and is designed to set “the maximum annual rent increase based on the changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and provides tenants protections from evictions without just cause,” according to the DCBA. “The RSO also provides a process for property owners to seek relief if they believe they are not receiving a fair return on their rental units under the permitted maximum annual rent increase.” 

“I have asked the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to immediately update the messaging related to the rent registry created by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance,” said Barger, whose 5th District includes the SCV. “The department is in the process of updating its websites and registry and will be providing updated guidance to the contracted staff members who are working with the county to provide responses through phone and email inquiries saying property owners who are not landlords can disregard the notice.” 

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