California rents could skyrocket 10% thanks to inflation. What do you want to know

Some California landlords can now increase rent payments by up to 10%, the maximum annual increase under a law passed three years ago.

The Tenant Protection and Rent Control Act – introduced as Assembly Bill 1482 and signed into law in 2019 – allows landlords to increase their rents by 5% per year, plus the rate of inflation in their metropolitan area, with a maximum increase of 10%. In recent years, the total increase has fluctuated between 5.7% and 9%.

But the 10% limit only applies to complexes built before 2007 and those not subject to rent control restrictions, which means that owners of buildings outside these limits can increase their rents even more. And because inflation is so high across the board right now, every region of the state meets the requirement that the cap be set at a 10% increase.

In Los Angeles, units built before October 1978 are prohibited from raising rents until one year after the end of the COVID-19 emergency period. The city has banned evictions for nonpayment of rent for tenants who have endured financial hardship due to the pandemic, including job loss and rising medical bills and child care costs.

But many parts of the rest of the state have no such protections.

In January 2022, Antioch resident Rocheall Pierre’s rent for her two-bedroom apartment increased by $300 – to $1,800 per month. Pierre had been evicted from her apartments in San Francisco and Oakland and was homeless for a time in 2016 before finding a place in Antioch for herself and her children.

“We have no control over it. We have to pay or we will be kicked out,” she said on Monday, the first day the raises were allowed. “I was homeless and displaced. I feel unsettled because I know landlords can raise the rent at any time.

Shanti Singh, spokesperson for the statewide tenant advocacy group Tenants Together, said her organization’s hotline received an influx of calls before the rent spike.

Singh said she worries tenants will be overpriced by landlords who know they can’t afford the increase.

‘There are landlords raising rent knowing tenants can’t afford it and using that as an excuse to get them out,’ she said, adding that the economic recovery has been ‘uneven’ during the pandemic, especially along racial and class lines. and that a rise in rents will affect those who are already facing financial difficulties.

“It’s the same inequality that existed before the pandemic, so it’s not at all surprising that these communities took on disproportionate debt,” she said. “It is the most vulnerable people who are being left behind.”

Manhattan Beach resident Taylor Avakian, who owns several properties in Los Angeles and North Carolina, said landlords should be able to raise rents to cope with an overall increase in costs.

“They have to make up the difference somewhere,” he said. “If my electric bill, insurance, etc. keep going up and I can’t raise the rent, then [landlords] are not encouraged to maintain buildings in good working order. Why would they install new water heaters if they can’t increase the amount of money or replace the amount of money they spend on expenses? »

A 10% rent hike would offset an increase in expenses in most cases, Avakian said, but not in Los Angeles because the city extended the eviction moratorium for eligible tenants until the end of the year. year.

“I have older buildings built before 1979 that are controlled by the city, so I can’t raise the rent at all until the eviction moratorium is over — and that’s a year after you can raise the rent,” he said.

But Singh pushed back on the idea of ​​landlords raising rents due to increased spending.

“It’s not necessarily about being hit by inflation,” she said. “Everyone is affected by inflation, but that does not mean that everyone is affected at the same level in terms of vulnerability.”

Avakian said he sympathizes with those hard hit by the economic and health issues related to the pandemic.

“I understand where tenants are coming from, because sometimes it feels like everything [landlords] what a tenant wants is their money,” Avakian said. “[But] there are a lot of landlords who really care who lives in their properties and they might charge more than they do but don’t because that’s their morality.”

In Pasadena, which lifted its eviction ban on June 30 and has no rent control rules, Pasadena Tenants Union organizer Ryan Bell said his organization has responded to calls from tenants who had received notices of increases starting this month.

“They have to give 60 days notice for the rent increase, and they were ready for that a month or two ago, so it would go into effect immediately in August,” he said. “Pasadena’s eviction protections for COVID have been removed by [the] City Council, so there were a lot of no-fault evictions as well.

Rent control supporters campaigned for an election measure that would limit increases to 75% of the annual increase in the consumer price index, Bell said. City voters will decide in November.

“If the average apartment is $2,000 a month, then 10% would be $200 a month, which is like renting a Honda Civic with no warning,” Bell said. “People don’t do this without planning and making sure they can afford it.”

“More people are falling into homelessness faster than we can help them find their way back to housing,” he said. “It’s like we’re taking on water faster than we can bail them out, and that’s because of the rising cost of rent.”

Los Angeles Times

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