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California Senate approves bill to cap rent increases

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — California lawmakers yesterday moved to cap annual rent increases statewide for most tenants as a limited housing supply in the country's most populous state continues to drive up the cost of living while pushing more people to the streets.

The California Senate voted 25-10 to cap rent increases at 5% each year plus inflation for the next decade while banning landlords from evicting tenants without just cause.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will sign the bill into law, but first it must survive a final vote in the state Assembly where the California Association of Realtors is pushing to defeat it. Lawmakers must act by Friday. California's largest cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, have some form of rent control, but a state law passed in 1995 has restricted new rent control laws since that year.

In most places, landlords can raise rents at any time and for any reason, as long as they give advance notice. In Pomona, about 30 miles (48 kilometres) east of Los Angeles, Yesenia Miranda Meza says her rent has jumped 20% in the past two years. Monday, she marched with other tenants through the halls of the state Capitol chanting: “Once I've paid my rent, all my money's spent.”

“I'm a rent increase away from eviction, and that's with me having two jobs,” she said

“So if this (bill) doesn't go through and I get another rent increase, I really don't know what I'm going to do. I'm either going to be homeless or I'll have to cram into a room with a whole bunch of other people.”

Opponents have likened the proposal to rent control — a more restrictive set of limitations on landlords. California voters overwhelmingly rejected in a statewide ballot initiative to overturn the 1995 law last year.

California Association of Realtors President Jared Martin said the group's 200,000 members strongly oppose the bill because it will “reduce the supply and quality of rental housing.”

It's an argument echoed by Republican Sen Jeff Stone, who said developers would have no reason to build new housing if they can't make money off their investment.


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