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Board may place limit on new rent increases

City News Service | 9/14/2018, midnight
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is considering a law a law that would cap rent..
Sheila Kuehi

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is considering a law a law that would cap rent increases at 3 percent per year in unincorporated areas and require that landlords have a legitimate reason for evictions.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who authored the motion calling for an interim ordinance, said it is meant, in part, to prevent older people on fixed incomes from becoming homeless or unable to meet their basic needs, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“You cannot just have your rent jump up and eat less food,'' Kuehl told The Times in an interview.

According to the California Housing Partnership Corp., a nonprofit group that advocates for more affordable housing, L.A. County's inflation-adjusted median rent increased 32 percent from 2000 to 2015, while median renter income decreased 3 percent, according to The Times. One in three renters in the county spends at least half their income on rent, according to research by UCLA.

The proposed law, which would come to the board for approval in 60 days, would cap annual rent increases using rent levels on Sept. 11, 2018, as the baseline. Apartments first occupied after 1995, condominiums and single-family homes would be exempt, in accordance with the state's Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

The ordinance would require just cause for evictions and include “due process'' to ensure property owners are entitled to a “fair and reasonable'' return.

Kuehl's office estimates the ordinance would apply to approximately 57,000 households, or about 200,000 people, The Times reported.

The motion comes in advance of a November state ballot measure, Proposition 10, which would repeal the Costa-Hawkins act. That would allow municipalities to enact rent control on all types of rental units and to cap rents even when a tenant moves out. Now, landlords have the right to set rents at market rate each time a unit becomes vacant, a policy known as vacancy decontrol.

Opponents of the county's interim ordinance and the statewide ballot measure say current data do not show a spiraling increase in rents, that capping increases will not make housing more affordable, and that rent stabilization deters landlords from remaining in or entering the rental market, according to The Times.