California Rent Control Initiative 2020 Info and Links

Links to debate, news stories, and the text of the rent control initiative. The proposition, if it makes the ballot, would allow voters to decide to amend the current rent laws , allowing more properties to be covered under city rent control laws. Landlords with 2 properties would be exempt. Rent increases would be capped to 15% over three years (meaning an average of 5% a year) .

Status of the Initiative

The initiative is being circulated for petition signatures. When enough signatures are collected, it will become a proposition on the November 2020 ballot.

If you wish to submit a signature in support, you need to find a petition circulator. I don’t have a printable, mailable form at this time. Petitioners are at community college campuses, stores, and bus stops during the day.

Research Resources

Text of the Initiative (PDF).

Ballotpedia “both sides” overview.

Some history at Curbed LA: California Voters Could Decide to Expand Rent Control in 2020.

Proposed initiative enters circulation.

Examples of Effects

Today, the Costa Hawkins Act prohibits cities from applying new rent control regulations to properties built after 1995, and in cities that have rent control, it prevents expansion of rent control past their date limits.

If this initiative makes the ballot, and then passes, the date is moved up to 2005, or later if the property was put into the rental market after 2005.

Landlords are given 15 years to make back money on their property, before it’s put under rent control, and has rent increases limited by a local law, if any.

Rent control laws usually include a “right to stay”, so they can’t evict you just to raise the rent. They need a good excuse to evict, like you are damaging the apartment.

Example 1: City Has No Rent Control at Present

For tenants to attain rent control, a city must pass a rent control ordinance. This initiative affects the viability of such a law by bringing the benefits of rent control to more local residents.

For example, if a city has 10,000 voters, and 4,000 live in rentals built before 1995, then 40% of voters benefit from a new rent control law. This is the current situation.

If the same city, with 10,000 voters, has 6,000 voters living in rentals built before 2005, then 60% of voters benefit from a new rent control law. This happens if the initiative passes.

This initiative, if passed, puts increased political pressure on local city councils to pass laws to protect tenants from excessive rent increases.

Example 2: City of Los Angeles, which has Rent Control

The City has rent control on anything larger than a duplex, built before 1979. This initiative, if passed, would allows the city to pass a law to bring into the existing rent control, the properties that have been occupied as a rental longer than 15 years.

Example 3: Mom and Pop Landord Rents Out a Back House/Casita

This type of property is exempt under the proposed law, if this is their only rental.

Example 4: Mom and Pop Landlord Rents Out a House

This type of property is exempt under the proposed law, if this is their only rental.

Example 5: An Apartment in Unincorporated LA County

Right now, there’s a temporary rent control law in unincorporated areas of LA County. The law mainly affects East Los Angeles, which is mostly older apartments, and the vast majority of residents are renters. The current rent cap is based on the inflation rate, and it was 3%.

This proposed law would not change the rent cap, because it’s lower.

Rent control would cover more properties, because it would change the date range from 1995 up to 2005.

Current Rent Control

Most cities in California do not have rent control.

The cities in the LA area with rent control are: the City of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Inglewood, and West Hollywood.

The unincorporated areas, like East LA, now have rent control. This is not all of LA County, just the parts that aren’t within a city government.

See the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Rent Control page for more info.

Green Party

California Green Party supported the similar Proposition 10 in 2016.

Los Angeles County Green Party members circulated the petition to put Prop 10 on the ballot.

Eastside Greens are involved with the LA Tenants Union, which is a tenants organization fighting against excessive rent increases.

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