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Rental Housing Mediation Board

In 1975 a grassroots effort to provide a forum for landlords and tenants to resolve rental housing disputes out of court, led the City of Santa Barbara Community Relations Commission in 1976 to establish the Rental Housing Mediation Task Force (Task Force), now known as the Rental Housing Mediation Board (Board). The Board was initially staffed by volunteer mediators, and funded by City general revenue sharing funds.

In 1978-79 the City began using its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) administrative funds to pay for Rental Housing Mediation Program (RHMP) staff. In July 2012, due to a significant reduction in CDBG administrative funds, the RHMP program began receiving City general funds to support staff services to City of Santa Barbara residents. Other jurisdictions receiving RHMP services for their residents contract with the City for these services. The RHMP has received additional support from City Human Services funds and from other sources.

The RHMP functions under the City Community Development Department, Administration, Housing and Human Services Division. The Board functions as one of the City Council appointed volunteer boards with support from RHMP staff. The two purposes of the RHMP are:

  • To provide information on the California Rules and Regulations pertaining to Landlord/Tenants rights and responsibilities to parties in residential rental housing.

  • To provide an inexpensive and effective means to resolve rental housing disputes out of court.

Central to the RHMP, is the concept of mediation as a method of resolving disputes, with the mediation conducted by staff or by two appointed Board mediators depending on the complexity and urgency of the problem.The RHMP and Board mediators facilitate discussion and open communication between the disputing parties in an effort to resolve rental housing disputes before such problems reach the court system.

General Functions

  • Mediation of disputes between landlords and tenants.
  • Create a "Triple Win" for the landlord, tenant and community.
  • Prevention of homelessness.
  • Development and implementation of training process to enhance mediation skills.
  • Promotion of Rental Housing Mediation Program and Board Services.

Membership 15 Members

The majority of the members (8) must be residents of the City.  A maximum of (7) members may be non-City residents.  Non-City residents must reside in a jurisdiction which contracts with the Rental Housing Mediation Program for services.  At the time of appointment, an appointee to the Board shall meet the definition of at least one of the three categories:                                  

  • 5 Homeowners (a Homeowner Mediator must own his or her residence and may not own any other residential property).
  • 5 Landlords (a Landlord Mediator must own or manage residential properties for consideration or compensation, whether single or multiple units).
  • 5 Tenants (a Tenant Mediator must rent or lease his or her residence and may not own residential property)
Length of Term Four years and until successors are appointed. Staggered terms expire on December 31 of the appropriate year.
Meeting Schedule The Rental Housing Mediation Board meets on the second Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden Street, plus scheduled times throughout the month for mediation sessions as needed.
Time Involved Approximately 4 hours per month for meetings, mediation sessions and related activities. 
Financial Disclosure Requirement None.
Compensation None.
Staff Senior Rental Housing Mediation Specialist and three Part-Time Rental Mediation Staff, (805) 564-5420.
Reference Council action on 4/26/77 and 2/4/86; Ordinance No. 4291; Resolution Nos. 89-057, 84-133 and 84-023. Council action on 7/21/2015; Resolution No. 15-062 (Bylaws)
Last Updated: Oct 6, 2015