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Rent control back on the table in California

Golden State Democrats unveil bills to ease rent

The fight for rent control in the state of California is far from over.

Months after the state’s voters wholeheartedly defeated a rent control initiative in last November’s election, the issue of expanding rent control in California has returned to the state’s legislature this week after a group of Democratic lawmakers unveiled a series of bills designed to tackle the issue another way.  

The bills aim to cap annual rent increases across the state to prevent unjust evictions and to return to cities the authority to adopt their own rent control policies, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

From the article:

A group of Democratic legislators introduced bills to cap annual rent increases statewide, prevent evictions without just cause and return to cities the authority to adopt rent control ordinances for newer homes and apartments.

Supporters said urgent action is needed to address what has become a statewide emergency, as families face soaring housing prices and the prospect of homelessness. About half of California renter households spend more than 30 percent of their income on shelter, which experts consider to be a cost burden, according to U.S. census estimates. More than a quarter spend at least half their income on housing.

Back in 1995, the state limited the use of rent control when it passed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits local governments from imposing caps on single-family homes and condos, as well as rental rates for apartments built after the law went into effect.

As the Chronicle’s Alexei Koseff reports, despite the measure’s defeat in November, California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would still sign a rent control bill if presented to him.

“Get me a good package on rent stability this year and I will sign it,” Newsom said in his State of the State address in February.

According to the report, the series of bills that the Democrats unveiled this week would roll back parts of Costa-Hawkins but leave it in place, with details to be hashed out in the legislature.

Here are details on each bill:

AB36, if passed, would allow Californian cities to enact rent control on buildings built after 1995 that are more than 10 years old and would clear the way for cities to limit rent raises on single-family homes and condos that are more than 10 years old.

AB1481, if passed, would prevent landlords from evicting tenants without a valid reason.

AB1482, if passed, would prevent California landlords from increasing rents by more than an unspecified percentage above inflation each year. According to the Chronicle, the author of the bill, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said he is figuring out a cap that would help a broad swath of renters while still allowing landlords to earn a return on their investments.

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