Rent control

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RENT CONTROL IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA

What is rent control?

If you live in a rent-controlled building (also called rent stabilized or RSO), your landlord is limited as to how much they can raise your rent each year. But being a tenant in a rent-controlled building also gives you a set of other rights as well, which are in addition to the rights for tenants in non-rent controlled buildings.

How do I know if I am in a rent-controlled building and what is the maximum rent increase allowed?

Only 4 cities in L.A. County have rent control laws (though this covers many people): Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. Here’s when each applies, and the maximum rent increase:

  • LA: If you live in a building that was built before October 1978, which has more than 1 unit, your landlord may raise your rent by a maximum of 3% per year (with some exceptions).
  • Beverly Hills: If you live in a building that was built before September 1978, which has more than 1 unit, your landlord may raise your rent by a maximum of 3% per year (with some exceptions)
  • West Hollywood:
    1. Properties with more than one unit built before July 1, 1979;
    2. Properties with only one unit on the whole property built before July 1, 1979, and whose current tenants moved in before January 1, 1996.
  • Santa Monica: Applies to most residential rental buildings in the city constructed prior to April 1979. See link.

If my city does not have rent control, does that mean the landlord can charge whatever they want?

Yep, but they must give you proper notice before raising the rent. 30 days notice is required for rent increases of 10% or less, and 60 days notice is required before rent increases of more than 10%.1Civil Code Section 827(b).

If my building is under rent control, can my landlord evict me at any time for any reason?

First of all, if you are on a lease for a specific time period (usually the first year), then as long as you are not violating the lease or doing any criminal activity, you cannot be evicted. But usually after the 1st year lease is up, it is automatically converted to a month-to-month lease), and the following applies:

  • If your building is rent controlled, you may only be evicted for certain reasons, listed in the law. (For city of L.A., see here)
  •  If your building is NOT rent controlled, you may legally be evicted (or lease not renewed) for any reason other than illegal discrimination

Can landlords remove rent controlled units from the market?

Yes, if they convert them to condos.2Ellis Act But if a landlord destroys a rent controlled building in Los Angeles and replaces it with a new rental building within 5 years, the new building must either include “affordable units” of the same amount as were destroyed, or at least 20% of the new units must be “affordable,” whichever number is higher.

Can my city create or expand rent control protection?

Cities are limited in the rent control protections they can impose, under the state Costa-Hawkins Act (1995). If your city already had rent control in 1995, the state law prohibits the city from expanding the number of buildings covered (keeping most rent control to pre-1980s buildings). If your city did not have rent control in 1995, the city can create rent control laws and apply it only to pre-1996 buildings.3See LA Times story

But lawmakers are looking to repeal or modify Costa-Hawkins.


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