In major victory for tenants, California lawmakers pass sweeping rent cap bill

In a significant victory for California renters struggling to find affordable housing, state lawmakers on Wednesday sent a sweeping rent cap bill to the governor’s desk.

Assembly Bill 1482, which passed the Assembly Wednesday afternoon 46-22, is set to limit rent increases across the state to 5 percent plus inflation, up to 10 percent. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who helped broker a compromise between tenant advocacy groups and apartment owners, is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. The state joins Oregon, which passed similar legislation in February, and New York in enacting widespread rent caps.

“The question we have in front of us is what kind of a society do we want to live in?” said Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), the bill’s lead author, just before the vote. “What kind of neighbors are we?”

In places like Oakland and San Francisco, which already have rent restriction, tenants may not notice much difference. And according to a recent Zillow analysis, the legislation would have benefited only around 7 percent of California renters if it had been in place last year, because rents in many places have ticked up just a few percentage points.

But in wealthy suburbs across the Bay Area, the new rent cap could have significant impact.

AB 1482, which sunsets in 2030, will apply to apartments built at least 15 years ago, as well as houses and condos of the same age that are owned by large corporations. Tenant advocates also succeeded in pushing lawmakers to include just cause eviction protections for renters who have been in their home at least a year. That means landlords can’t kick out renters following the rules of their lease unless the owner is moving in, tearing down the residence, renovating it or taking it off the rental market.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) pushed back at the notion the measure will hamstring landlords.

“They still have a tremendous amount of flexibility to raise the rent,” Wicks said.

The measure does carve out exemptions for owners who live with their tenants, as well as owners who live in one part of a duplex and rent out the other unit. And landlords will be allowed to raise rents to market rates when a tenant moves out.

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The measure is a significant political win for Newsom, who had taken a risk by backing the legislation before it had a clear path to passage. Last year, state voters shot down a ballot measure, Proposition 10, that would have strengthened local rent control policies across the state by eliminating the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which restricts …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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