Rent control bill passes

Wilson Gomez

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Fewer than 5% of California cities impose rent control on landlords, but the state legislature approved Wednesday a bill to cap how much they can increase rent each year.

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, proposed the Tenant Protection Act to limit annual rent increases to 5% statewide until 2030. Gov. Gavin Newsom has already declared he will sign the bill, which will affect approximately 4.6 million California households, according to the University of California, Berkeley Terner Center for Housing Innovation. 

“Sacramento has finally heard the voices of renters across our state who have traditionally been overlooked and ignored,” Chiu stated in an email. “This bill protects tenants from egregious rent increases and unfair evictions while still allowing property owners to make a fair return on investment.” 

However, the bill would do little for rent-control properties in San Francisco, where the allowable rent increase has averaged 1.6% annually over the past decade.

“(San Francisco) already has stricter rent control than is mandated by AB 1482,” said Noni Richen, president of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for small property owners across California. 

Richen said she believes that California’s small property owners outside of San Francisco will feel the effects of the bill most. 

She recalled that California voters turned down rent control last year when it was proposed as Proposition 10. She said she sees the Tenant Protection Act as “San Francisco imposing things on the rest of the state that they don’t want.” 

Chiu originally proposed a 7% rent increase cap in May to increase the bill’s passage, but Newsom — an outspoken advocate of the bill — lowered it to 5%.

“These anti-gouging and eviction protections will help families afford to keep a roof over their heads, and they will provide California with important new tools to combat our state’s broader housing and affordability crisis,” Newsom said in a statement.

There are exceptions to the new rent control bill, such as properties built within the last 15 years. It also exempts any duplex with an owner who has lived in one of the units since they began renting out the other unit.

Additionally, the bill will not affect housing that has been deemed suitable for occupancy within the previous 15 years. It will also exclude single-family homes, with the exception of those owned by a corporation.

The Tenant Protection Act also doesn’t prevent landlords from increasing rent when a tenant leaves their property.

Even so, Krista Marquez, a San Francisco tenant, said the bill would lessen the stress renters face.

“With a reasonable cap on annual rent increases, tenants will be able to pay rent and eat well with the stability and provided security that this bill has determined,” Marquez stated.