As you stand in line at the polls or quickly finish up filling out your last-minute mail-in ballot, keep rent control in the back of your mind. While we urge you to vote ‘no’ on Proposition 10, an initiative that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act and allow local governments to instate rent control, be aware that the fight doesn’t end there. Even after Prop. 10, those who are pro-rent control are looking onward at 2020 and other states.
What is rent control and Proposition 10?
Rent control (also known as rent stabilization) would allow local and/or state governments to control and regulate rental housing rates. While California has the Costa-Hawkins Act in place to prevent rent control, some local governments have been able to bypass this by creating ordinances that target specific types of housing. Many states have similar laws prohibiting rent control in place.
Click here to see if your state or city currently has rent control. Proposition 10 is a California voter initiative that would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Act. While many cities have rent control ordinances already in place, the Costa-Hawkins Act currently exempts single-family homes and apartments built after 1995 from these rent control laws. If Prop. 10 passes, local governments across California will be able to establish their own rent control laws. Because the affects of this proposition would be on the local level, rather than the state-level, it’s unknown what the specific rental cap will be or if additional tenant protections and regulations will be tacked on.
We encourage you to vote ‘NO’ on Prop. 10 to protect the Costa-Hawkins Act.
The Rent Control Fight Doesn’t End in November
Even if Proposition 10 and rent control ordinances and initiatives across California don’t pass, it doesn’t mean it’s over yet. Those who are pro-rent control are already looking towards 2020, and the rent control craze is starting to spread to other states.
A rent control initiative for the City of Sacramento has qualified for the March 2020 ballot (California’s primary elections in 2020 have been moved up to March, as of September 28th, 2018). This measure would impose inflation-based rent restrictions, “just cause” tenancy termination restrictions, tenant relocation fees, instate a rent review board, and impose an additional fee on rental owners to fund the rent board. The California Apartment Association is urging the city attorney to perform a legal analysis before the Sacramento City Council approves the initiative.
In addition to the qualified rent control initiative, Sacramento Vice Mayor Steve Hansen has proposed an ordinance that would create a mediation process, allowing tenants to dispute annual rent increases above 6%. It would also require property owners to offer tenants the option of an 18-month lease. The Tenant Protection and Relief Act would become effective on July 1, 2019 if approved and properties with fewer than 5 units would be exempt.
Los Angeles County, CA
While the City of Los Angeles already has a rent stabilization ordinance in place, the rest of Los Angeles County does not. In a 4-1 vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to establish a temporary rent control measure for the unincorporated areas of the county as well. County officials will return with an ordinance proposal in November.
Mountain View, CA
An initiative has been created in the hopes of cleaning up Mountain View’s existing rent control ordinance. Since Measure V brought rent control to Mountain View in 2016, a significant number of rental units have been taken off the market. If there are enough signatures to qualify the measure, it would be presented before voters in November 2020.
There are two rent control bills (HB 2430 and SB3512) that are pending in the House and Senate, and HB 2430 has picked up quite a few sponsors this year. During last spring’s primary election, 77 Illinois precincts received ballot questions about rent control, and 75% voted in favor. Voters in the 35th, 46th, and 49th Wards will also receive rent control questions on their November ballots. It’s likely that we’ll see these rent control bills start to move sometime next year.
New York, NY
The City Council of New York is debating whether or not to create a form of commercial rent control. This proposed bill would give commercial retail tenants the right to a 10-year lease renewal if they met the terms of their existing contract. If commercial property owners refuse (or if an agreement is not met) the tenants are given a lease extension during arbitration. It is uncertain if this will go through, as the de Blasio administration has expressed his support of landlords and the New York Bar Association wrote a report saying the bill would not stand up in court.
Whether or not Proposition 10 passes, keep a keen eye on what’s going on in your city council. Rent control enthusiasts have been proposing rent control at the local level from day 1, and if Prop. 10 passes then you might want to consider getting much more acquainted with your City Council members.