5 Things Tenants Need To Know About California’s New Rent-Control Law

On January 1, 2020 a new state-wide rent control law (AB 1482) takes effect for the next decade. California will be the second state in the nation (Oregon was first) to enact such sweeping changes on a statewide basis. The law is intended to prevent rent gouging in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods,  and slow the pace of eviction and displacement.

What does AB 1842 mean for tenants?

The new law prevents landlords from evicting tenants solely to capture higher rents. On January 1, 2020, landlords must present “just cause” before evicting tenants with a year or more of occupancy. Annual rent increases are capped at 5% plus inflation (about 2-3% annually) or 10%, whichever is lower, for tenants occupying a unit for 12 months or more.

Your unit’s location and age makes a difference

If you are a tenant in one of two dozen California cities with rent control ordinances (such as San Francisco) you already have rent control. Make sure you are familiar with your city’s laws before assuming the new law applies to you. For example, AB 1482 will impact just over 5000 San Francisco tenants occupying units built after 1979 but prior to 2005.

The type of rental unit you occupy defines your rights

Here are some exemptions not covered by the law:

  • Units 15 years old and newer – this is a rolling condition, so keep an eye on it
  • Student dorm housing, government housing
  • Owner-occupied duplexes
  • Single family homes unless they are owned by a corporation, REIT or LLC.

Landlords may not rush to raise rents prior to the January 1, 2020 effective date

In addition, if you rent a qualifying unit and your landlord raised your rent over 5% since March 15, 2019, they are required to roll back to the March 15 rent amount, effective January 1, 2020.

California wildfires may temporarily protect renters from eviction

A state of emergency is providing protection (through November 25, 2019 or longer) for some renters. Landlords may not evict a current tenant and rent to a new tenant at more than a 10% increase while the state of emergency is in effect.

If you believe the new law impacts you, or you are facing an eviction and don’t know where to turn, consider contacting an attorney specializing in tenant rights.

Know your rights. Protect yourself.


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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

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