Supes approve rent cap in unincorporated areas of the county

Los Angeles County Seal.
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As part of an amendment, there will be a rent increase restriction on rental property through 2023 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday afternoon to amend the county’s code regarding rent stabilization and tenant protections, which includes a temporary rent cap of 3% for fully covered rental units and 5% for luxury units in unincorporated areas of the county. 

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, cast the lone dissenting vote, citing her concerns that the changes would have unintended negative consequences on the housing market. 

According to the agenda item, the changes are intended to incorporate additional protections as directed by the board in the past, clarifying the rights and responsibilities of property owners, park owners, tenants and mobile home owners, and to standardize procedures within the ordinances. 

In September, the board had directed county staff to recommend amendments to Chapter 8.52, Rent Stabilization & Tenant Protections Ordinance, and Chapter 8.57, Mobilehome Rent Stabilization Ordinance — which were brought forth in Tuesday’s meeting. 

One recommendation was to add and clarify language in the county code regarding rent stabilization to help both tenants and landlords better understand their rights and responsibilities. 

In addition, for the period of Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023, the county will impose a temporary cap on the maximum allowable rent increase for fully covered rental units at 3% annually, unless otherwise permitted by the county.  

This also includes a temporary cap on rent increase for luxury rental units at 5% annually.  

This amendment also modified and clarified which rental units are fully covered, partially covered or fully exempt from these changes. The county also clarified language stating when a tenant may only be evicted for nonpayment of rent — modifying the term “for cause” to an “at-fault” termination. 

Lastly, the amendments would require landlords to file an unlawful detainer action only if the tenant’s rental debt exceeds one month of fair market rent dependent on their rental unit size. 

Barger voted against the amendments, believing these “quick fixes” to deal with systemic problems like inflation and a high-priced housing market were the “wrong move” for the county. 

“Rent increase restrictions have a lot of negative, unintended consequences,” Barger said in a prepared statement. “Property owners are shouldering financial consequences while their property bills keep rising.” 

“Rent cap policies can also make a scarce housing market even leaner. Property owners in our unincorporated communities will have little to no incentive to lease their available properties, which will exacerbate our housing crisis.” 

The board had previously taken action and continued to create policies or programs to support tenants and landlords amid confusion related to paying rent and rental agreement issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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