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City Councilman Wants To Tighten LA’s Rent Control Caps

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An apartment for rent in Central Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)
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With rents rising faster than wages in Los Angeles, one city official wants to tighten up existing rent control rules.

“Rent control as it is currently working is not successfully protecting renters from exorbitant costs,” said L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who put forward a new motion Wednesday to more closely tie rent control to inflation.

Bonin also introduced several other housing-related motions on Wednesday that would:

  • Potentially require LLCs to disclose their owners when purchasing residential real estate in the city of L.A.
  • Explore the creation of more publicly funded “social housing”
  • Express the city’s support for federal housing legislation including the “Green New Deal for Public Housing Act” and the “Homes For All Act”

But let's get back to his motion on rent control:
BONIN'S PLAN

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Under the city’s current rules, landlords can raise rents by at least 3% each year, or more depending on inflation and whether they pay for utilities. Allowable increases this year start at 4%.

Bonin's plan, which is in early stages, would allow rent hikes equivalent to 60% of the local Consumer Price Index, which averaged 1.4% from 2009 to 2018.

Bonin’s motion also calls for a potential rent freeze for tenants who’ve seen their rents outpace the overall cost of living.

A recent paper from the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies noted that L.A. has higher allowable increases than many other California cities with rent control, such as San Francisco and Santa Monica.

The paper’s author, Shane Phillips, said L.A.’s allowable hikes have compounded over time to strain the budgets of some long-term renters.

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“If your rent were increasing by the maximum allowable increase each year, you might be paying three to four hundred dollars more per month at this point than if it had been tied to inflation,” he said.

COUNTER POINT

Property owners say any move to tighten L.A.'s rent control would just double down on what they see as a cause of, not a solution to, the city’s shortage of affordable housing.

Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, said rent control is one of the policies that has “gotten us into our current situation of severe housing shortages, rising rents caused by these shortages, and ever-increasing homelessness.”

GO DEEPER:

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