California Is One Step Closer to Statewide Rent Control

Here’s what you need to know about ”anti-rent gouging” Assembly Bill 1482

In May, a half-dozen bills aimed at alleviating California’s housing affordability crisis were killed in the Senate, in what has been called the “the worst month in California’s housing policy history.” Yesterday, one of the few stragglers that survived, “anti-rent gouging bill” AB 1482, cleared the Senate judiciary committee. If passed, it would expand “just cause” eviction protections and add California to a growing list of states with statewide rent control laws. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the bill would work, who’s for it and against it, and what it would mean for L.A.

What would the bill do?

The bill would restrict landlords from raising rents by more than 7 percent plus the Consumer Price Index (which averages about 2.5 percent in the state), so about 10 percent a year. Originally, the bill would have capped rent hikes at 5 percent, but an “11th hour handshake deal” between lawmakers and the California Association of Realtors resulted in several amendments.

In addition to instating rent control, AB 1482 would also require landlords to demonstrate “just cause” before ousting tenants. Originally, this provision—which aims to cut down on predatory evictions—was part of AB 1482’s sister bill AB 1481, which was among the casualties of the May housing bloodbath (RIP).

How many homes would it affect?

A report from the Terner Center estimates the bill could effect about 4.6 million households statewide, but its effects won’t be distributed equally. The law would apply to the largest number of single-family homes and apartments in cities with no rent control at all. In cities that have limited rent control, it would apply to buildings built after 1995, which have long been exempted from rent control by the state’s controversial Costa Hawkins Act.

Who is exempt?

As a result of the aforementioned deal with real estate interests, a number of homes will be exempted from rent control provisions. AB 1482 would not apply to units that are less than ten years old, or buildings owned by landlords with ten or fewer single family homes.

 How would it impact L.A.?

Since Los Angles already has rent control on units built before 1978, the bill would apply to the narrow margin of homes built between 1978 and 2009. While it is difficult to tell exactly how many units that is, the Turner Center’s analysis of three communities in cities with rent control (including L.A.’s Boyle Heights) estimated that about 32 percent more units could receive renter protections.

 Is it permanent?

No. The May amendments also included a sunset date. The bill would be repealed on January 1, 2023.

Who is against it?

While real estate lobbies withdrew their opposition after amendments were added, landlord lobby groups have continued to speak out against the bill, claiming that it will discourage new landlords and developers from entering the market. “[It] would create a huge disincentive to invest in rental housing at a time when California so desperately needs more homes,” warned the California Apartment Association.

Who supports it?

It’s complicated. While a number of tenants’ rights groups initially supported the deal, many have critiqued the “watered down” version that manifested after the May amendments. René Christian Moya, director of the advocacy group Housing is a Human Right, has even expressed concerns that the altered bill could drive rent increases even further. “There is a real danger that many landlords will see the rent cap as a new floor, handing tenants 10 percent rent increases year after year,” Moya told Curbed.

What happens next?

To pass, the bill will need to clear the appropriations committee. It will then need to be approved by the full Senate and signed into law by Governor Newsom by a mid-September deadline.

RELATED: New York Just Passed Landmark Renter Protections…Why Can’t California?

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