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L.A. Considers A Registry To Keep Landlords From Overcharging You On Rent

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For Rent (Photo by melissssaf via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Many renters in L.A. may soon be able to easily find out if their landlord is illegally overcharging them for rent. L.A. City officials have proposed an online registry where landlords must report how much they charge for rent stabilized apartments each year, according to KPCC. The primary goal of the registry is to help discourage unscrupulous landlords from illegally raising the rent by making it easier for tenants to find out if they're being overcharged.

The registry would apply to apartments under the city's rent stabilization ordinance (R.S.O.), which includes roughly 620,000 units built before 1978—the majority of the apartments across L.A. Under the R.S.O., landlords can only raise the rent a certain amount each year, which most recently has been 3%. And while the city has records of all these apartments, housing officials don't ask landlords directly how much they charge. So, currently the only way they know if a landlord is breaking the law is if a tenant files a complaint, which the City Attorney's office will then investigate. If the landlord is found to be breaking the law, they are subject to fines and the tenant is refunded the money.

Under the proposed registry, rent information would be made available to the public online. You'd be able to search the database with an address to find out how much the rent is and how much it can go up each year. And, as KPCC points out, the registry won't necessarily stop landlords from illegally raising rents, but it will make it easier for tenants to discover and report offenders to the city.

Currently, the cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood have rent registries, but in those cases the rent information is collected when someone moves in, not annually.

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The registry already has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti's office and today the proposal will be considered by the City Council's Housing Committee. The committee is expected to give approval to the full council for a vote sometime in the next few weeks.