Rent control advances in California, L.A. County – Daily News

on Sep11
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Separate tenant protection measures advanced in Sacramento and downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 10, with the Senate approving a measure that would impose a form of rent control throughout the state and county leaders adopting permanent rent control for unincorporated areas.

The state Senate voted 25-10 to approve Assembly Bill 1482, the so-called “anti-gouging” measure that seeks to cap rent hikes statewide at 5% plus inflation, up to a maximum of 10% a year.

If the Assembly votes to approve Senate amendments and Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill into law as expected, the “Tenant Protection Act of 2019” would apply to all California apartments and some rental houses and condos that are at least 15 years old.

In Los Angeles, the county Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to enact permanent rent control in unincorporated parts of the county, capping rents at the rate of inflation, up to a maximum of 8% a year.

The county vote comes exactly a year after the board enacted a 3% temporary rent cap.

The supervisors also voted unanimously to allocate $2 million from Measure H funds to phase in legal assistance programs for low-income tenants facing court-ordered evictions.

Similar arguments resounded from both the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration and the state capitol 384 miles to the north: Rapidly rising rents are a major factor in California’s homelessness crisis.

“There is a clear and unmistakable link between our unaffordable housing market and homeless crisis,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement issued after the county vote.

Regular working people are being displaced, added state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley: “They are now in their cars or on couches or in the streets.”

What do the two measures do? And how would they affect each other?

Here’s an explainer:

How do AB 1482 and the county measure affect each other?

The two measures overlap, with the county rent control measure taking precedence when its cap is lower than the state maximum. But the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act limits county rent control to apartments built before February 1995, or 24 years old this year.

AB 1482 would apply to apartments that are at least 15 years old. Over time, exempt (or newer) buildings will be subject to AB 1482 provisions once they’re 15 years old.

What else would AB 1482 do?

It would expand the rent cap to houses and condos owned by corporations or real estate investment trusts, or REITs. It also would roll back any rent hikes enacted above the cap after March 15, 2019.

It also would create “just cause eviction” provisions. Those provisions would ban landlords from ordering tenants in good standing to move unless the landlord intends to occupy the unit, demolish or “substantially remodel” it or take it off the rental market.

Owner-occupied duplexes would be exempt from rent caps, and landlords would be allowed to increase rents to market rates after a tenant moves out.

What are the current limits?

Landlords in non-rent controlled areas can raise rents as much as they want so long as they give 30-days notice for increases under 10% and 60-days notice for increases of 10% or more.

Why do supporters call it an “anti-gouging” measure?

Current law forbids merchants from gouging consumers after a disaster declaration, limiting price hikes to 10%, including rents. Senate Democrats likened the state’s housing crisis to an emergency, saying AB 1482 seeks to prevent rent gouging while allowing reasonable rent hikes.

How long will AB 1482 be in effect?

The law would expire Jan. 1, 2030.

How did the measure change?

An earlier version set the rent cap at 7% plus inflation but applied to all apartments at least 10 years old or older, rather than 15. The rent caps also would have applied to more houses and condos.

What are the details of the LA county rent control law?

The maximum increase would be:

  • 8% if the Consumer Price Index increases by more than 3%
  • 3% if the CPI increases 1-3%
  • 2% plus inflation if the CPI increases less than 1%
  • Zero if the CPI decreases 2% or more

Where will it apply?

In unincorporated L.A. County, affecting more than 100,000 renters, county officials said.

Just nine of L.A. County’s 88 incorporated cities have adopted some form of tenant protections, including the city of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Hollywood. In the past year, Inglewood, Pasadena, Glendale, Long Beach and Culver City adopted new tenant protections.

Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis called on the other 79 cities to enact rent control during a Tuesday rally.

“Three million out of the 10 million L.A. County residents are living with no rent protection at all,” Kuehl said. “They’re at the mercy of an increasingly unaffordable rental market.”

What were the main arguments for rent control?

In both Sacramento and Los Angeles, rent-cap advocates argued tenant protections are needed to stem the rising tide of homelessness in the state, saying over half of the state’s tenants are “rent-burdened.”

While streamlining the homebuilding process is needed, “we cannot build our way out of this crisis fast enough,” said Skinner, the Berkeley Democrat.

What were the main arguments against?

Rent control will backfire, increasing the housing crisis by discouraging developers from building more housing. Living conditions will worsen because landlords won’t have the revenue to maintain buildings properly.

“We must pass legislation that encourages housing development,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula. “ … There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. Limiting the supply of housing is the wrong way to do it.”

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