LA County moves closer to permanent rent control ordinance

The real estate industry is vigorously fighting against the measure, saying it will make it difficult to evict bad tenants and will discourage future investment

Sep.September 06, 2019 10:00 AM
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

As state legislators near a deal on expanding rent regulations, Los Angeles County is poised to develop a permanent rent control ordinance.

The county’s proposed measure would cap rent increases and implement just-cause eviction regulations for tens of thousands of units in unincorporated L.A. County.

The five-member county Board of Supervisor will vote Tuesday on whether to direct staff to develop a permanent ordinance. They are expected to so.

A permanent ordinance has been in the cards since last fall when the county imposed a temporary 3 percent cap on rents hikes for multifamily units, and expanded its just-cause eviction regulations. Since then, the board has extended the temporary cap through the end of this year and expanded the measure to include single-family homes.

The temporary ordinance was designed from the beginning to buy the county time to develop a permanent measure.

Tuesday’s vote appears to build on those temporary measures. It would instruct the county to investigate the means to make landlords pay to relocate tenants who are priced out of unregulated units. Because of the statewide Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, no units built after that year can be placed under rent regulations.

Several other jurisdictions in L.A. County have instituted similar temporary and permanent rent regulation measures over the last year or so. Those all followed the November statewide defeat of Proposition 10, a ballot measure aimed at repealing Costa-Hawkins.

Prop 10 would have opened the floodgates for new rent control regulation across California. While voters made it clear they weren’t ready for such a sweeping change, there appears to be strong support among constituents for local ordinances.

The real estate industry has pushed back on further rent regulation measures, in particular landlords, investors and brokers. Developers led a $100 million successful campaign against Prop 10, and have vigorously fought local ordinances like the one in L.A. County.

The California Apartment Association, an organization representing landlords, urged members this week to attend Tuesday’s meeting and call L.A. County supervisors to voice their opposition to the measure.

Critics claim rent control is counterproductive because it forces landlords to consistently hike rents to build up capital for improvements or emergencies. Eviction protections make it more expensive and difficult to evict bad tenants, they say, and discourages future investment.

L.A. landlords may soon have bigger fish to fry. California lawmakers said earlier this week that they have agree on a sweeping rent regulation package that would allow units built as recently as a decade ago to fall under rent control. Rents would be capped at 5 percent plus inflation.

The state Senate and Assembly are each considering other tenant protection bills.

On top of that, groups that want to repeal Costa-Hawkins are on track to try again for a repeal on next year’s state ballot.

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