Hello from the Essential California newsletter, and happy Thursday! Thursday, July 21, is today. I’m Liam Dillon, and I cover housing affordability as a metro reporter. I have some information you can use this morning about housing.
Tenants all over California may have already gotten a notice that says their rent will go up a lot on August 1. And it will be easy to blame something: inflation.
Starting next month, landlords will be able to raise the rent on millions of apartments all over the state by up to 10%. It’s the most the rent can go up each year, according to a state law passed a few years ago. The goal of the law was to keep tenants from having to move because their rent went up too much.
The law limits annual rent increases to 5 percent plus a figure for inflation that changes from region to region in California. During the first few years that the law was in effect, the total increase that could be made was between 5.7% and 9%. This year, for example, it was 8.6 percent in Los Angeles and 8.8 percent in the Bay Area.
But starting next month, because inflation is so high, every part of the state meets the criteria for a 10 percent rent increase cap.
Shanti Singh, a spokesperson for the statewide renter advocacy group Tenants Together, says that the high allowable rent increase adds another worry for renters who have been dealing with health and financial problems during the pandemic, as well as their own inflation pressures. A survey from the U.S. Census Bureau that came out on Wednesday said that about 1.5 million California households were behind on their rent.
Singh said, “A 10 percent rent increase can make a big difference in a family’s ability to pay bills.”
But Dan Yukelson, who is in charge of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said that maintenance and appliance costs are going up and that landlords still have to deal with many state and local laws that have stopped rent increases and evictions in other places during the pandemic.
“Right now, owners are in a lot of pain,” Yukelson said. “Their costs are going up very, very much.”
Here are the details. The 10 percent increase is only allowed for apartment buildings that were built before 2007 and don’t have to follow any other local rent control rules. In fact, rent increases are much smaller for apartments in the 22 cities and towns that have rent control. These cities and towns include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose. Tenants Together have made a list of cities with rent control, which you can find here.
In the city of Los Angeles, rent control applies to nearly three-quarters of the apartments that were built before October 1978. Regulations put in place at the start of the pandemic say that landlords can’t raise the rent for people who already live there.
If you live in an apartment in California that was built after 2007, you might be able to take advantage of laws that keep rent from going up by more than 10 percent in a year, even when a state of emergency is declared. You should check with your city to discover if these rules apply to you.
Still not sure? A few months ago, I put together a guide to help people in Los Angeles find out what protections they can get against rent hikes and evictions.