If you’re here because of a rent increase dispute or simply want to know what your rights are, as a tenant or landlord, you’ve come to the right place.
California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019 affords certain rights known as rent control laws and regulations. Both landlords and tenants must understand the regulations set forth for rental properties to ensure compliance and maintain a fair and harmonious relationship.
In this article, we will delve into the guidelines governing rent increases for residential properties in California, providing clarity on how much a landlord can raise rent and the limitations imposed by the state’s property regulations.
Overview of Rent Control in California
Control of rent is a hot topic in California, with many cities and municipalities adopting their own regulations to protect tenants from landlords who raise the rent unfairly.
However, it’s important to note that not all areas in California have these laws. The most well-known and stringent rent control ordinances are found in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland. If your rental property is located in one of these cities, you must comply with both state and local regulations.
Lotus West Properties have members on the board of AAGLA and NAA, helping us stay up to date with local property laws. If you want a property management service that can help you manage tricky rent increases, call us today!
Rent Increase Guidelines under State Law
For properties not covered by local rent control ordinances, California’s statewide law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, governs rent increases. Under this law, landlords have the right to raise rent but are subject to certain restrictions. The key provisions include:
– Types of properties exempt from specific rent control laws
In California, the following properties are not subject to rent control law and do not apply to this article (please consult your lease agreement for rent increase stipulations):
- Single-family homes
- Owner occupied duplexes
- Mobile homes
- College dorms
- Accessory dwelling units built 15 years prior to the California Tenant Protection Act
- Properties provided by non-profit organizations
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– Notice Requirements
Landlords must provide written notice to tenants at least 30 days in advance for rent increases of less than 10% and at least 60 days in advance for increases exceeding 10%. Failure to provide adequate notice can render the rent increase invalid. 
Landlords may give these notices by:
- Personal Service (hand delivered). It is in the interest of the tenant and landlord for the tenant to sign and put a date of receipt on the notice.
- Mail Notice – in this case, 5 days must be added to the notice period to allow for delivery of mail
– Frequency of Increases
In any twelve-month period, a landlord may not increase a qualifying tenant’s rent by more than 5% plus the increase in the published Consumer Price Index for the tenant’s geographic region, or 10%, whichever is less. These provisions are often referred to as a ‘rent cap’. 
For the Tenant Protection Act to apply however, all tenants must have lived in the unit for at least twelve months, or the tenant who has lived there the longest must have lived in the unit for at least twenty-four months.
– Reasonable Rent Increases
Landlords are allowed to increase rent to cover legitimate costs such as property maintenance, repairs, and property tax increases. However, the rent increase must be deemed “reasonable,” and excessive increases may be challenged by tenants.
– Discriminatory Practices
It is essential to note that landlords cannot increase rent in a discriminatory manner based on factors such as race, gender, religion, or disability. Such practices are strictly prohibited under fair housing laws.
– Local Rent Control Ordinances
As mentioned earlier, some cities in California have their own local regulations that imposes additional limitations on rent increases.
Common provisions found in local rules include stricter limits on rent increases, just-cause eviction requirements, and restrictions on the removal of units from the rental market.
– Calculating Allowable Rent Increases
To determine the maximum allowable rent increase under California law, landlords must follow specific calculations outlined in the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act .
The permissible rent increase is generally tied to the local rate of inflation, known as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Landlords can utilize the CPI to calculate the annual rent increase percentage.
– Seeking Legal Counsel and Mediation
In cases where disputes arise between landlords and tenants regarding rent increases, seeking legal counsel or utilizing mediation services can help find a resolution. There are several organizations and resources available in California to assist both parties in understanding their rights, responsibilities and potential options for resolving conflicts .
Lotus West Properties have skilled and experienced rental managers that can help you overcome rental disputes before they need to be reported. Our properties in Los Angeles are monitored to ensure annual rent increases are fair and equitable.
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Additional Tenant Protections
Aside from California rent control and rent increase limitations, California also provides additional protections for tenants through various laws and regulations. These include laws governing security deposits, habitability standards, and eviction procedures. As a landlord, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure compliance and maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship.
Case Studies – California
Local rent control regulation has been a topic of debate and study in California, and several case studies have examined its effects on the rental market and the overall housing situation. Let’s explore two notable examples:
Berkeley California, known for its rent control policies, has been the subject of research on the effects of rent control. A study conducted by researchers from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley examined the impacts of rent control in the city. The study found that while rent control provided immediate benefits to protected tenants, it had unintended consequences in the long run.
The study indicated that rent control in Berkeley led to a reduction in rental housing supply, similar to the findings in San Francisco.
Landlords were less likely to offer rental units or converted existing rental units to other uses due to the limitations imposed by rent control. This reduction contributed to increased competition for available units, making it more challenging for tenants not covered by rent control to find affordable housing.
– Santa Monica
Santa Monica, a city with long-standing rent control policies, has also been a subject of research on the effects of rent control. A study conducted by researchers from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs analyzed the impacts of rent control in Santa Monica.
The study showed that rental properties provided with rent control in Santa Monica had helped to maintain affordable housing options for protected tenants, providing them with stability and preventing substantial rent increases.
However, it also found that rent control led to a reduction in the maintenance and quality of rental units over time. Landlords, facing limited rent increases, may have had less financial incentive to invest in property maintenance and upgrades, resulting in potential declines in the overall quality of the rental housing stock.
Lotus West Properties serve the property owners and tenants in Santa Monica, supporting them to make fair and equitable decisions about rent increases and maintenance costs.
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From the Tenant’s Perspective
While landlords have the right to raise rent within the boundaries of the law, it’s important to consider the perspective of tenants who are directly impacted by these increases. Rent hikes can pose challenges and uncertainties for tenants, especially in areas without strict rent control regulations.
Let’s explore some key points from a tenant’s point of view when it comes to navigating rent increases.
– Financial Strain and Affordability
Rent increases can significantly impact a tenant’s financial stability and ability to meet their monthly expenses. California, known for its high cost of living, has witnessed skyrocketing rents in many areas. For tenants already struggling to make ends meet, a sudden or substantial rent increase can lead to financial hardship, forcing them to make difficult choices regarding their budget and potentially affecting their quality of life.
– Limited Housing Options
The shortage of affordable housing in California exacerbates the challenges faced by tenants when dealing with rent increases. This limited availability puts tenants in a vulnerable position, as they may feel compelled to accept rent increases even if they are burdensome.
– Disruption and Insecurity
The fear of being priced out of their homes or having to relocate can lead to increased stress and anxiety for tenants. It disrupts their sense of security and can have negative impacts on their overall well-being, affecting not only their housing situation but also their mental and emotional health.
– Balance and Fairness
Tenants often seek a sense of fairness and balance when it comes to rent increases. They expect landlords to consider their financial situations and the prevailing market conditions before implementing significant hikes.
While landlords have the right to cover their expenses and make reasonable profits, tenants value transparency and open communication about the reasons behind rent increases.
– Legal Protections and Advocacy
Tenants in California have legal protections to ensure that rent increases are within reasonable bounds. Seeking legal advice and connecting with tenant advocacy organizations can empower tenants to navigate rent increases and ensure their rights are upheld.
– Open Dialogue and Negotiation
Communication is key in addressing rent increases. Tenants appreciate landlords who engage in open dialogue, discussing the reasons behind the increase and providing ample notice.
In some cases, tenants may be able to negotiate with their landlords for more reasonable terms, such as phased-in increases or mutually agreed-upon adjustments. Landlords who are difficult with rent control rules, often lose good tenants due to a lack of co-operation.
– Seeking Alternative Solutions
When tenants are faced with unaffordable rent increases, they may explore alternative solutions.
This could include searching for more affordable housing options, considering shared rentals, or reaching out to local housing assistance programs. Mortgage relief programs such as those provided by the Californian government are one option 
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Building Solid Landlord-Tenant Relationships
Rent increases in California can significantly impact tenants, their financial stability, and their overall well-being. From the tenant’s perspective, it is crucial for landlords to recognize the potential challenges and concerns that arise from rent hikes.
From a landlord’s perspective, a property is an investment and within reason, the property must generate a profit for the property owner. The rising cost of services such as refuse removal, water, energy, and maintenance are reasons for landlords to consider rental increases.
Open communication, understanding, and a fair approach can go a long way in fostering positive landlord-tenant relationships and ensuring that both parties are heard and respected.
By staying informed, tenants can better protect their interests and work towards maintaining affordable and stable housing options.
Ultimately, finding a balance between the rights of landlords and the needs of tenants is crucial for a thriving and equitable rental market in California.
Both tenants and landlords should do everything they can to foster co-operation in the complex Californian rent control environment.
By staying informed about local ordinances, understanding the impacts of rent control, and proactively addressing the challenges it presents, tenants and landlords can work together to facilitate growth in the property market.
In this article we have provided both sides of the rent control controversy, showing that there must be consideration for the challenges faced by both landlords and tenants.
As a reputable property management company in Los Angeles, Lotus West Properties has a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on the rental market in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the surrounds and we invite you to take this opportunity and give us call for help with rent increases or email us directly at email@example.com
We look forward to hearing from you!
- California Apartment Association
- Tenant Law Group
- Costa Hawkins Act
- California Tenants Guide