California Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know in 2024

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California Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know in 2024

California’s housing market is notoriously competitive, with rent prices often posing a significant burden for tenants. To provide some stability and protection, the state enacted the Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482) in 2019. This law restricts how much landlords can raise rent for most residential properties.

It’s crucial for California tenants to understand their rights and the limitations on rent increases. This knowledge empowers you to negotiate effectively and avoid unfair rent hikes.

The Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482)

AB 1482 established a statewide rent cap, limiting annual rent increases to either:

  • 5% of the current rent plus the local Consumer Price Index (CPI) change, or
  • 10% of the current rent,

whichever is lower. This cap applies to most residential rental units in California, excluding single-family homes owned by individuals who don’t own more than four rental units.

Statewide Rent Cap vs. Local Rent Control

While AB 1482 provides a baseline protection, some California cities have implemented even stricter rent control measures. These local rent control ordinances often have lower annual rent increase caps or additional tenant protections.

It’s important to understand the distinction between the statewide rent cap and local rent control. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Statewide Rent Cap (AB 148 2): Applies to all California cities unless a stricter local rent control ordinance exists.
  • Local Rent Control: Imposes additional regulations on rent increases within specific cities. These ordinances may have lower rent increase caps, eviction protections, and other tenant rights not covered by AB 1482.

Understanding Your Rent Increase Limits

Calculating the Allowable Increase (Formula)

To determine the maximum allowable rent increase for your unit, follow this formula:

Maximum Allowable Increase = [Current Rent x 5%] + [Local CPI Change]

OR

Maximum Allowable Increase = Current Rent x 10%

Whichever is Lower

For example, if your current rent is $1,500 and the local CPI change is 3%, the maximum allowable increase under AB 1482 would be:

  • Option 1: ($1,500 x 5%) + (3%) = $75 + $45 = $120
  • Option 2: $1,500 x 10% = $150

Since $120 is lower, the maximum your rent could be raised in this scenario would be by $120, bringing the new rent to $1,620.

Local Variations: Cities with Rent Control

Several California cities have their own rent control ordinances that may supersede the AB 1482 rent cap. Here are a couple of examples:

  • San Francisco Bay Area Example: Cities like San Francisco and Oakland have stricter rent control measures. As of March 1, 2024, the allowable rent increase in the Bay Area is capped at 1.7%.
  • Los Angeles County Example: Los Angeles County has a Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) that applies to certain unincorporated areas. Under the RSO, the maximum annual rent increase for covered units is currently capped at 4%.

It’s crucial to check with your local rent control board or tenant association to determine if your city has a rent control ordinance and what specific limitations it imposes.

Notice Requirements for Rent Increases

Landlords are required to provide tenants with written notice before raising rent. The notice period depends on the amount of the increase:

  • Standard 30-Day Notice: For rent increases that fall within the AB 1482 cap or local rent control limits, landlords must provide tenants with a written notice at least 30 days before the increase takes effect.
  • Extended 90-Day Notice for Large Increases: If the proposed rent increase exceeds the AB 1482 cap or your local rent control limit, the landlord must provide a written notice at least 90 days before the increase takes effect.

The notice should clearly state the amount of the rent increase, the effective date of the increase, and the contact information for your landlord. If your landlord fails to provide proper notice, you may have grounds to challenge the rent increase.

Protections for Tenants Facing Rent Hikes

Right to Know (Just Cause Eviction)

AB 1482 also strengthens tenant protections against eviction. Landlords can only evict tenants for “just cause,” which includes reasons like non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, or the landlord’s intention to move in themselves or a close family member. Tenants have the right to know the reason for eviction through a written notice.

Rent Increase Dispute Resolution

If you believe your landlord is proposing an illegal rent increase, you have options to dispute it. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Negotiate with your landlord: Try to reach a fair agreement with your landlord directly.
  • Contact your local rent control board or tenant association: They can provide guidance and resources for contesting the rent increase.
  • File a complaint with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment (DFEH): The DFEH investigates complaints of housing discrimination, which can include illegal rent increases.

Eviction Protetions During COVID-19 Recovery

While the COVID-19 state of emergency has lifted, some eviction protections for non-payment of rent remain in place in California until at least July 1, 2025. These protections require landlords to follow specific procedures before evicting tenants who owe rent accumulated between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2023. Tenants facing eviction for unpaid rent from this period may be eligible for rental assistance programs to help cover the debt.

Resources for California Tenants

Here are some valuable resources for California tenants:

  • California Department of Consumer Affairs: https://www.dca.ca.gov/ (Provides information on tenant rights and resources)
  • California Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482): https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB1482 (Full text of the law)
  • California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH): https://calcivilrights.ca.gov/ (Provides information on filing housing discrimination complaints)
  • Local Rent Control Boards: Many California cities have their own rent control boards that offer resources and information specific to your area. You can find contact information for your local rent control board through a web search or by contacting your city government.
  • Tenant Unions and Associations: Tenant unions and associations can provide support, advocacy, and legal assistance to tenants facing rent increases or other housing issues.

By understanding your rights and protections under California rent increase laws, you can be a more informed tenant and better prepared to negotiate with your landlord or challenge unfair rent hikes. Remember, there are resources available to help you, so don’t hesitate to seek assistance if needed.

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6 thoughts on “California Rent Increase Laws: What Tenants Should Know in 2024”

  1. I live in Santa Ana, CA in a senior mobile home park…I bought my mobile home back in 2011 for under $20,000…and paid $235 a month for rent…and every single year the rent has gone up a lot…the park management has done a lot of “repair” work on the streets although I never saw there was anything wrong with the street…we used to have gas, electric and water all on the same rent bill…and then about 5 or 6 yrs after I moved in the park decided to make those bill separate from the rent…we had to have our gas and electric powers shut off for hours and hours while the trucks came around and shut off the power and install power poles in front and connected to our homes…my gas and electric bill dollar amounts did change dramatically…and now I am paying $1040.00 a month rent!!! there are mostly Asian people living here and most do NOT speak English!!

    Reply
  2. Rent Control is the #2 leading contributor to homelessness, as it drives rents up on Non Rent Control units. Ultimately the younger generation subsidize the older generation.

    Reply
    • Dear Abdul B.:

      Thank you for your post.
      Please let us know where you found information “Rent Control is the #2 leading contributor to homelessness, as it drives rents up on Non Rent Control units.”

      Ty

      Reply

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