The hope for a cap on rising rent might be on Los Angeles’ horizon.
But for the rest of the state, that hope might wither away in the next three months.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1482 on Oct. 8, which limits annual rent increases across California to 5% plus inflation for the next decade. The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, also protects tenants from being evicted without documented lease violations once they have lived in an apartment for a year.
This is great news, but January is three months too late. Between now and January, landlords have a last-minute chance to increase rent or evict their tenants with no need for justification.
Fortunately for Angelenos, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 to pass emergency measures that prevent unreasonable eviction and rent increases before the new year.
And the rest of California would do well to follow their lead.
Students, low-income populations and residents living in overcrowded cities alike will all feel the effects of the coming months if legislators don’t put emergency measures in place. It is the responsibility of city councils across the state to prevent illegitimate eviction or rent increases as soon as possible – because waiting until January for change is a luxury many can’t afford.
And there’s no doubt this loophole will be exploited.
Even before LA passed these emergency measures, tenants of nearly 200 apartments received eviction notices for reasons related to the new state law. Not only that – some housing prices have skyrocketed after the legislation passed.
The bill signed to protect the interests of tenants is now preemptively evoking serious threats to housing safety across the state.
Finding housing in California, one of the most expensive states in the country, is already an ordeal without the added complication of the new law. At UCLA, housing shortages both on and off campus have left students with an overcrowded, overpriced housing market around the Westwood Village.
And make no mistake – this gap in the legislation will hit the most vulnerable populations the hardest.
As one of the most financially unstable populations, most students have neither the capability to accommodate for soaring rent nor the flexibility to find new housing options. And while some students have the luxury of rent-controlled or university-owned apartments, the uncertainty of the next few months will undeniably put other students’ educations – and well-beings – at risk.
LA locals and UCLA students may be protected under these interim measures, but pockets of California might not have a city council as concerned with their well-beings.
That’s not to say that AB 1482 intended for this backlash, or that the state shouldn’t have taken measures toward rent control. It’s a statewide crisis and required a top-down solution.
New legislation for all of California was necessary – but for every action, there is a reaction. It’s up to the rest of the state to follow Los Angeles’ lead in protecting its tenants moving forward, but that must begin now.
Without an immediate and widespread remedy for this loophole, a well-intended measure to provide affordable housing might just ironically threaten the most vulnerable with imminent homelessness all across California.
So much for hope.