In a landmark week for tenants’ rights in LA County, the Board of Supervisors took the next major step toward Permanent Rent Stabilization and Interim Rent Stabilization Ordinances, along with identifying funding to enforce these changes and protect consumer and tenants’ rights.
The Permanent Rent Stabilization Ordinance goes into effect on April 1st, 2020, and contains a broad range of protections including:
– Limiting annual rent increases for units in the unincorporated areas to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with a cap of 8%.
– Allowing Luxury units to increase rents by CPI plus 2%.
– Requiring that all rental units in the unincorporated areas be covered by Just Cause protections, which requires landlords to give a reason for eviction from an established list of allowable causes.
– Requiring landlords to pay relocation costs in the case of a no-fault eviction, or in the event a tenant needs to be temporarily relocated.
– Tightening Ellis Act protections, including requiring 120 days’ notice, or up to one year for seniors or people with disabilities.
Additionally, all landlords must register rental units in a Rental Housing Registry System, which will launch in the spring of 2020. This system will not only give the County valuable data, but will also allow tenants to verify information for their specific unit. The ordinance also includes a process by which landlords can petition for a fair rate of return.
To ensure that tenants are protected until the permanent ordinance goes into effect, the Board also approved an extension of the Interim Rent Stabilization Ordinance and the Interim Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance until March 31st, 2020.
The Mobile Home Rent Stabilization Ordinance limits increases on space rentals to 75% of the CPI with an 8% maximum, and requires owners to register rental information in the registry system.
Enforcement efforts will be carried out by the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, and County officials hope these measures will help curb housing unaffordability and evictions that are contributing to the homelessness crisis.
“Contrary to popular belief, economic issues are the number one reason people become homeless. Many people are faced with astronomical rent increases and can’t afford lawyers to fight them,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “The County’s actions will help residents maintain affordable homes in stable communities, and stem the tide of people falling into homelessness.”
The Board also approved the establishment of a Rental Housing Oversight Commission, which will include 5 appointees from the Board offices, and four Department of Consumer Affairs appointees, including a rental housing tenant, rental housing owner, mobile home tenant, and mobile home park owner. The commission will hear cases where tenants or landlords appeal decisions regarding violations of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance and decisions concerning the definition of a fair and reasonable return on investment.
The County has housed a record number of people in the past few years with the help of Measure H, but the homelessness crisis continues to grow as the number of people falling into homelessness outpaces the number who get into housing. Rent stabilization is a critical part of the County’s multi-pronged strategy to fight the homelessness crisis, so that unbridled, unethical rent increases do not push more of LA County’s residents onto the streets. This robust set of tenant protections builds on voter-approved State legislation, and works to keep law-abiding tenants in their homes.