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New Changes to Rent Control Laws Are Coming Soon to California

New Changes to Rent Control Laws Are Coming Soon to California

Last week, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1482, also known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which will limit the amount that landlords can raise rents each year and will provide tenants stronger protections against eviction. Governor Gavin Newsom said he will sign the bill and the law will take effect January 1, 2020.

The bill caps yearly rent increases to 5% plus inflation (up to a maximum of 10%), and it limits landlords’ ability to evict tenants without documented lease violations after a tenant has lived in the unit for 1 year. However, with a few exceptions, both of these rules only apply to multi-family residences (i.e. duplexes, triplexes, apartment buildings, etc) built before 2005.

Many cities in California, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, already have their own local rent control policies in place. The goal of the bill is to provide tenant protections to the rest of the state, where previously landlords could raise tenants’ rents at any time by any amount and could evict tenants for any reason. Once the law goes into effect, the entire state will be covered by some form of rent control.

In cities with existing rent control laws, AB 1482 only applies to units that are not already covered under the local ordinances. For instance, in the City of Los Angeles, existing rent control only applied to apartment buildings built prior to 1978, but now under AB 1482 buildings constructed between 1978-2004 will also be under rent control.

These types of buildings are EXCLUDED from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 but may still be covered under a local rent control ordinance:

  • Buildings built after 2004
  • Single Family Homes (unless the owner is a corporation or an LLC in which one member is a corporation)
  • Duplexes in which the owner occupies one of the units as a primary residence

Keep in mind that the cap on rent increases only apply to units in which the tenant has lived there for 1 year or longer. When a tenant moves out, the landlord is free to charge the new tenant market rate rent (or whatever amount the landlord wants).

The new law will make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without “just cause” (e.g. tenants failing to pay rent or breaching the lease contract). Additionally, if a landlord wants to remove the tenant to convert the unit to condos or to substantially remodel or demolish the unit, the landlord will have to pay the tenant a relocation fee.

Whether you love or hate rent control, it will soon be the law of the land in the entire state of California.

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Juliette Hohnen

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