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Housing and Homelessness

How Much Can My Rent Go Up Right Now? Here’s Your LA Rent Hike Cheat Sheet

 A "For Rent" sign hangs outside an apartment building in northeast Los Angeles.
A "For Rent" sign hangs outside an apartment building in northeast Los Angeles.
(David Wagner
/
LAist)
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With your budget already getting squeezed by huge price hikes for gas and groceries, the last thing you want to see is a massive rent increase notice taped to your apartment door. But that’s exactly what many Los Angeles-area renters are now facing.

As we explained in a recent story, various state and local laws meant to prevent large rent hikes are now permitting increases of up to 10%. Why? Because those laws use inflation to calculate allowable increases, and inflation is currently running at its highest level in decades.

However, different parts of L.A. have very different rules on rent increases. Some cities have local forms of rent control. Others don’t.

Older buildings are more likely to be covered by rent increase caps. Many newer buildings have no limits at all, because laws at both the state and local level exempt recently-built properties from annual rent caps. The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act limits the kinds of rent control cities can impose on buildings constructed since 1995, and state lawmakers agreed to exempt buildings constructed within the last 15 years from statewide rent caps in order to maintain incentives for developers to build new housing.

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These rules can be very confusing. To sort it all out for you, we’ve put together a short guide to the laws in different parts of Southern California.

Of course, we’re not lawyers. We can’t tell you exactly what’s legal and what’s not in your specific living situation. L.A. tenants who need help can reach out to Stay Housed L.A., a partnership between local governments and legal aid organizations.

City of L.A.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of L.A. has banned rent increases in rent-controlled housing. That ban is still in place, and will continue for one year after the city declares an end to the “local emergency period” brought on by the pandemic.

The city’s rent control law generally covers rental housing units built before October 1, 1978.

In recent years, when inflation was much lower, allowable rent increases in L.A. rarely rose above 3%. But under the city’s rent control regime, inflation can drive annual increases as high as 8%. And landlords who pay for utilities can add another 2% on to those increases.

Inglewood

Inglewood’s rent control law, which originally took effect in 2019, currently allows annual rent increases of up to 10% — depending on the size of the apartment building you live in.

If you live in a building with five or more apartments, your landlord can raise your rent by 7.9%. That figure is based on the local consumer price index — the most commonly used measure of inflation — from April 2022.

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If you live in a rent-controlled apartment building with four units or less, your landlord can raise your rent by 10%.

The city’s limits on annual rent increases exempt rental housing built within the last 15 years.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica’s rent control board recently approved a 6% annual rent increase — with a firm cap of $140 per month. Those increases are scheduled to take effect in September.

Rent control in Santa Monica generally applies to apartments built before April 10, 1979.

The city’s rent control law calculates allowable increases based on 75% of the local consumer price index, with 6% as the current maximum limit. However, voters could lower that limit to 3% if they approve a November ballot measure seeking to tighten the city’s rent control law.

Culver City

Tenants covered by rent control in Culver City can currently receive annual rent hikes of up to 5%, the maximum limit set out in the city’s rent control ordinance.

Culver City’s rent control law generally applies to rental housing units built before Feb. 1, 1995. The law exempts single-family homes as well as certain condos, townhomes and accessory dwelling units.

West Hollywood

Similar to the city of L.A., the city of West Hollywood currently bans rent increases in rent-controlled units due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city will not allow rent increases until 60 days after the “local “emergency” period is lifted.

The city’s rent control rules generally apply to rental properties with two or more units that were first occupied before July 1, 1979. In normal times, the city calculates allowable increases using a formula based on 75% of the local consumer price index.

Beverly Hills

After freezing rent increases for the first two years of the pandemic, the city of Beverly Hills is now allowing annual rent increases of up to 3.1% in rent-controlled housing.

However, the ability of landlords to pass on this increase depends on when they last raised the rent. Landlords who imposed rent increases between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020 face restrictions on how much they can raise rents between now and July 2023.

Details on how these complex rent increase rules work can be found on the city’s website. Beverly Hills’ rent control law generally applies to rental housing constructed before Feb. 1, 1995.

Baldwin Park

The city’s rent control law limits annual increases to 3% or the current local consumer price index, whichever is lower, with a ground floor of at least 1% per year. With inflation running high right now, that means the 3% max increase is in effect for rent-controlled housing.

The city’s rent increase rules generally apply to rental housing built before Jan. 1, 1995, with exceptions for mobile homes, duplexes and single-family homes.

Santa Ana

Santa Ana currently caps allowable annual rent increases in rent-controlled housing at 3%. That limit is set to remain in place until at least the end of August 2023.

The city limits rent hikes to 80% of the local consumer price index or 3%, whichever is lower. The law, adopted in late 2021, generally applies to apartment buildings built on or before Feb. 1, 1995.

Unincorporated L.A. County

There are 88 incorporated cities in L.A. County, but many areas are not incorporated and are instead subject to rules passed by the county. One in ten county residents lives in an unincorporated area, including places like East Los Angeles, Florence-Graham and Altadena.

Many renters in these areas are subject to the county’s rent control law, which is specific to unincorporated areas. The rules include a freeze on all rent increases during the COVID-19 pandemic for rent-controlled housing in these areas. That ban on increases is set to continue through the end of Dec. 2022.

The county’s rules generally apply to rental housing in unincorporated areas built before Feb. 1, 1995.

Other Cities We Haven’t Mentioned

Many incorporated cities in L.A. do not have local forms of rent control. For our recent story on inflation and rising rents, we interviewed tenants in Pasadena and Burbank getting double-digit rent hikes, in part because those cities do not impose limits on annual increases.

But if you live in a city without rent control, that doesn’t mean you have no protections. In 2019, state lawmakers passed the California Tenant Protection Act (also known as AB 1482), meant to stop landlords from passing on very large rent increases to tenants across the state who live in areas without local rent control.

The law does not apply to housing built within the last 15 years. If your building is older than that, your unit may be subject to the law’s limits on annual rent hikes. Those limits come out to 5% plus the local consumer price index — or 10%, whichever is lower. With inflation running very high, the law’s 10% maximum annual rent hike will take effect starting in August 2022.

What questions do you have about housing in Southern California?