Culver City Just Passed A 1-Year Rent Freeze

A for rent sign is posted in front of an apartment building in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/)

Culver City council members passed a one-year rent freeze early Tuesday morning, after hours of public discussion.

The move follows in the footsteps of other local governments that have passed new tenant protections in parts of L.A. that previously had no form of rent control.

Under the new rules, rent increases over the next year will be capped at 3% in most apartments. Single family houses, condos and townhomes will not be covered.

Landlords will also need to provide a "just cause" for evicting a tenant, such as failure to pay rent or creating a nuisance.

The rules will only apply to apartments built before Feb. 1, 1995. In Culver City, that includes 84% of all apartment units, according to an economic study commissioned by the city.

The study also found that market rents in Culver City have been going up 4.7% annually for the past three years. The average rent landlords are currently asking for apartments in Culver City has hit $2,210, according to the study. That's up from about $1,500 in 2010.

City council members said the year-long rent freeze will give them time to debate and hash out the potential details of a more permanent form of rent control. Tenant advocates say the temporary cap is needed because last time the city considered rent control, in 2015, some landlords responded by preemptively raising rents.

The move comes as Culver City continues its evolution into a prominent hub for Westside tech and entertainment industry employers. Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells has said an influx of highly paid workers at companies like Apple and Amazon — which have both been expanding operations in Culver City — is pushing rents up.

Michelle Weiner is an organizer with Protect Culver City Renters, a group pushing for tenant protections. She said the rent freeze is a good first step toward crafting a longer-term plan to keep people in their homes.

"We want diversity," Weiner said. "We want people of all income levels to be able to participate in our community."

Landlord groups say the city's approach isn't going to fix the housing crisis.

Fred Sutton, vice president of public affairs at the California Apartment Association, emailed LAist a statement calling the vote "disappointing." He said capping rents will make housing in Culver City "more expensive and harder to obtain."