California’s Statewide Rent Control Law is a law that was implemented in 2019. The law will not only limit the amount of rent increase but also the number of evictions and Ellis Act evictions.
This law comes as a response to the housing crisis where rental prices have been skyrocketing. The government hopes this legislation will help tenants stay in their homes and provide stability for renters, especially those with low income who are most vulnerable to being displaced from their homes due to high rents or displacement from an eviction.
This law has been met with mixed feelings by landlords, property owners, and developers who worry about how it might affect them economically as well as restricting their rights to manage properties they own. Find out what do you need to know about this law below.
Benefits of Rent Control Law
Rent control is designed to protect tenants from being priced out of their homes. It does this by placing limits on how much landlords can raise rent prices each year under existing leases, or when renewing leases. The benefits of a rent control law include:
- Increases the availability of affordable housing by keeping rental prices from growing at unsustainable rates.
- Reduces the frequency and severity of rent increases, which allows tenants to plan for their future.
- Protects low-income families from eviction, because they can still afford to pay the current rent price that is controlled under local laws.
Is It Basically Tenant Protection?
Many states have rent control laws, which means that California is not completely unique in this regard. However, the statewide aspect of the AB 1482 law does set it apart from most other rent control laws on a national level. This can be considered either an advantage or disadvantage, depending on who you ask.
Supporters of the law generally see it as being beneficial to tenants, which is why it has been so popular with renters. Tenants can have peace of mind knowing that rent prices will not skyrocket on them unexpectedly due to a landlord’s discretion or other factors out of their control. On the other hand, some landlords feel as though rent control laws are a foreign concept to California and they simply wish for more control over their businesses.
Arguments Against Rent Control
To be fair, there are also valid arguments against rent control laws. Supporters of the law say that it protects tenants, but the flip side of this argument is that it doesn’t actually help increase the amount of affordable housing. New rental units are typically exempt from rent control laws, which means landlords do not feel inclined to build new ones. Other arguments include:
- Violates basic economic principles by putting a limit on how much landlords can charge for rents.
- Encourages landlords to “get what they can” in rent prices, which can lead to higher rates in some cases than would normally occur without the law.
- Eliminates incentives for landlords to improve properties or maintain them well in order to keep existing tenants because their costs are rising anyway.
What Properties Are Exempt From Eviction Protection?
Tenants should take note that not all rental properties are covered by the statewide rent control law. This can be a little confusing because it does depend on where you live in California, but the rule of thumb is if a city has a local ordinance covering its occupants, then tenants will receive eviction protection from their landlord. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including:
- Single-family homes and condos are not covered by statewide law.
- Rental condominiums are exempt from local laws in most cases.
- Apartments built after 1995 are not covered under the eviction protection if they do not fall under rent control regulations at their location.
Tenants should also know that landlords are able to evict them for just cause in cases such as:
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Breaking any terms outlined by your lease agreement.
- Committing a crime on the premises, even if you’re the victim of said crime.
Other Protections for Renters
In some cases, renters may receive additional protections from the statewide rent control law. For example, eviction notices must be in writing and legally served to tenants.
Landlords cannot evict a tenant out of retaliation if they have lawfully exercised their rights, such as complaining about defects in the property or reporting criminal activity on the premises.
If a tenant’s lease is up, landlords are required to provide written notice of any changes to the terms of that agreement 60 days ahead of time.
California’s statewide rent control law is one of the most progressive tenant protection laws in the United States. It protects renters from being evicted except for a just cause and helps to keep rents affordable by limiting how much landlords can charge.