LA County supervisors approve a 4% cap on rent increases through June

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 03: Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.  Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Meeting.  County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, October 8.  3, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA.  (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

LA County supervisors approve a 4% cap on rent increases through June

LA politics

Rebecca Ellis

November 7, 2023

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to extend a soon-to-expire cap on rent increases and increase it slightly to 4%, sparing renters in unincorporated areas from a major rent increase for

another six

months.

In November 2022, regulators approved a temporary 3% cap on annual rent increases, seeing it as a short-term way to keep high-rent-burdened residents in their homes as pandemic-era tenant protections disappeared. The cap applies to all rent-controlled units in unincorporated LA County, meaning units built before 1995, as well as all mobile homes.

The cap was scheduled to expire at the end of this year, after which landlords could have increased rents by up to 8%.

But on Tuesday, regulators voted 4-1 to approve the 4% cap and keep it in place until June.

The board also voted unanimously to direct relevant county departments to study what a permanent cap would look like for unincorporated areas.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger voted against the 4% rent

increase

cap, calling it a “stopgap policy” that placed the burden on mom-and-pop landlords.

The motion was authored by Supervisor Lindsey Horvath and co-sponsored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, both of whom said they were dramatically concerned that rent increases would increase homelessness in LA County, home to more than 1 million residents.

“We are not saying that we should not increase pensions,” said Horvath, the only retiree of the five supervisors. “We say we have to keep it manageable.”

Horvath’s office said about 270,000 households have a

affected

at the cap.

The initiative was met with skepticism by both Barger and Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who said they felt the county was abandoning its small landlords, who were forced to pay increasing amounts for insurance, home repairs and utility costs, while rents for which they depend on has fallen. stagnated.

Mitchell said a lot of the

most

Landlords who were struggling were mainly people of color. And some of the homes they owned were the last affordable options available.

“Walk through Leimert Park, walk through Hyde Park, some of the remaining affordable areas to live in this entire county, and see who owns those properties. Those are BIPOC people who bought them or inherited them years ago,” she said. “So they are asset rich and cash poor.”

“They need to be maintained because if we lose them, we’ll be screwed further,” she said.

Instead of limiting rent increases,

both

Mitchell and Barger said the county needs to focus on building more housing and getting funding

by

the door

That

they had already indicated that they would help small landlords.

Last week, Barger and Mitchell demanded an audit of the province’s rent relief program for homeowners after a slow rollout.

The supervisors had worked together in January to ask the province’s Ministry of Business and Consumer Affairs to distribute $45 million to small property owners for back rent starting in April 2022.

Nearly a year later, they say, the department has barely moved on an act that visibly angered Barger on Tuesday.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Barger said, nodding to the department director Rafael Carbajal. “We should all be ashamed.”

The vote came amid objections from landlords who said they suffered financial harm after forgoing any meaningful rent increases since before the pandemic.

“An extension of this ceiling would be an outright failure by the Supervisory Board,” the spokesperson said

David Kaishcyan

of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, which had rallied its members to oppose the extension.

Tenant advocates, meanwhile, urged the board to do whatever it can to prevent landlords from raising rents by as much as 8%.

“This level of increase is close to what is considered a price in the event of an emergency, and well above what is needed to provide healthy returns to landlords,” said Sasha Harnden of the Inner City Law Center.

The cap does not apply to the province’s included cities, most of which have their own rules for rent increases.

The freeze on rent increases in COVID-era rent-stabilized units in Los Angeles is set to expire at the end of January. On Wednesday, the City Council will consider a proposal to limit the amount a landlord can increase to 4% or even 6% if the landlord pays utilities. If that fails, landlords can increase rents by 7% or up to 9% if the landlord covers the utilities.

Times writer Julia Wick contributed to this report.

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