State lawmakers passed a landmark measure last Wednesday that will limit annual rent increases to 5% plus inflation for buildings that are at least 15 years old and require landlords to provide a “just cause” for evicting tenants.
While Santa Monica already has a comprehensive rent control program and a “just cause” law of its own, Assembly Bill 1482 will impact some tenants in the city.
The legislation introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu of San Francisco will not supersede the city’s rent control regulations for buildings constructed before 1979, which typically restrict annual rent increases to less than 5%. However, it will cap increases for multi-family rental units built between 1979 and 2005.
Chiu’s bill did not attempt to overturn a key provision of the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act, which allows landlords to raise rents to market rates when tenants leave.
“These anti-gouging and eviction protections will help families afford to keep a roof over their heads, and they will provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
The bill will impact almost 5 million households in the state, according to a UC Berkeley report. Jim Kemper, the city of Santa Monica’s housing division manager, said the city does not have a count of how many units were built between 1979 and 2005, so it is unknown how many will be subject to the state law.
Rent Control Board director Tracy Condon said the state law will also apply to formerly rent-controlled buildings that were decontrolled when their owner moved into a unit — about 780 units in Santa Monica.
“The bill recognizes the state housing crisis that exists, and the rent caps definitely provide stability for people in place,” Condon said. “It was thoughtfully done in that they exempted jurisdictions with stronger protections.”
The California Building Industry Association and the California Apartment Association, which represent developers and landlords, did not oppose AB 1482 because it exempts new construction from the 5% cap for 15 years after it is completed.
The associations say that exemption will ensure developers can still attract investors who expect to turn higher profits on new buildings.
The California Association of Realtors dropped its support for the bill, however, when the proposed cap was lowered from 7% to 5%.
The law is set to expire in 2030, unless lawmakers vote to extend it.