A state rent control initiative is on the Nov. 6 ballot — and local legislators and Realtors have concerns.
Proposition 10 would expand local governments’ authority to enact rent control on residential property. A “yes” vote from California residents would abolish the existing Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which prohibits local governments from regulating how much landlords can charge tenants for renting apartments and houses.
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, opposes the proposition because it would disincentivize landlords from adding to the housing supply.
“We have a housing crisis in California and rents are high,” he said. “But when I get to the root cause of the issue, one of the underlying ones is we are not building enough inventory. This would give people less incentive to build housing.
“I acknowledge there are exceptions,” he said. “But the big-picture element is when the government disincentivizes the market forces, you’re going to have less supply coming into the market.”
Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, also opposes the rent control legislation, citing the need to prioritize increasing the supply to cause prices to be affordable instead of imposing artificial limitations.
Christy Smith, Acosta’s 38th Assembly District challenger in the upcoming race, took a different view.
“I think this actually gives property owners the opportunity to talk to their local governments, because on a local level it’s easier to have access to your city council than trying to engage the state government,” she said.
Smith doesn’t believe that the state Legislature should be totally out of the picture, but should still give cities more opportunity to decide what rent rates are reasonable based on their individual needs.
“Sacramento needs to be partnering more directly with local municipalities that demonstrate effective models of affordable housing, and they can give certain money through grant programs,” she said. “That’s how the state should get involved. But they shouldn’t just be throwing money randomly at housing options. They should let the municipalities demonstrate who’s thriving, and then help them out.”
The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, enacted in 1995, prohibits cities from establishing rent control over certain kinds of residential units such as single-family dwellings and condominiums, and new apartment units.
It also prohibits municipal “vacancy control,” meaning cities can’t prohibit landlords from raising rents for new tenants for empty apartments where a prior tenant vacated or was evicted for failing to pay rent.
Bob Khalsa, a local Realtor, disapproves of Proposition 10 because it would overturn these protections for landlords in navigating the market rates.
“The main issue is, if the act gets repealed, then landlords can’t raise their rents to fit market demands,” he said. “The problem with the housing crisis throughout the state is a lack of housing supply. The idea that things could become more affordable if Costa-Hawkins is repealed is a fallacy. We need to be adding housing units, not changing the way rent control is done in our state.”