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California nears statewide rent control

Legislative bodies approve measure, now awaiting sign-off from Gov. Gavin Newsom

California is one step away from enacting statewide rent control after the state's two legislative bodies both approved the measure.

The bill will cap annual rent increases by 5%, including the rate of inflation. In addition to the rent cap, a bill known as AB-1482, the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, will allow “just cause” eviction policies to qualified housing in California. 

The bill was approved this week by the California State Senate and the California State Assembly. 

The bill now moves to the desk of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

When Newsom signs the bill, the bill would make the state one of the few in the nation with statewide rent control. 

California, one of the nation's priciest housing markets, is following Oregon’s footsteps in enacting rent control. In March, Oregon approved a law placing an annual limit on rent increases of 7% plus inflation.

The bill appears to have Newsom's support, as the governor tweeted that “The rent is too damn high — so we’re damn sure doing something about it” and “Because there should be a cap on how much you pay for rent…Because your landlord shouldn’t be able to evict you for no reason.” 

“In this year’s State of the State address, I asked the Legislature to send me a strong renter protection package. Today, they sent me the strongest package in America," Newsom said in a statement after the Assembly passed the bill. "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. I would like to thank Assembly Speaker Rendon, Senate President pro Tempore Atkins, Assembly member Chiu and the bill’s co-authors for passing this legislation, as well as the broad coalition of stakeholders whose persistence allowed this bill to move forward.”

The move is a reversal from what happened in the state nearly a year ago. In the November 2018 election, California voters shot down a previous rent control initiative, Proposition 10. The proposal would have to capped annual rent increases to prevent unjust evictions. 

Proposition 10 was aimed to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. In 1995, California passed the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, limiting the use of rent control and prohibiting local governments from imposing caps on single-family homes and condos. 

According to the California Secretary of State, 61.7% of voters were against repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, while a mere 38.3% voted for it.

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