California Tenants Deserve Real Rent Control

In Newsby Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right, the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, strongly supports statewide rent stabilization, but we must oppose the state bill AB 1482 in its present form. AB 1482 would allow landlords in areas without rent control to increase the rent on current tenants up to 10% every year and would continue to allow landlords to increase the rent on a vacant unit without any limits at all.

We thank our allies for fighting the difficult, uphill battle to pass substantive renter protections in Sacramento. Throughout California, millions of renters are getting slammed by unfair, excessive rents. More than half of California renters are rent burdened—and nearly 30% of renters spend over half of their income just to keep a roof over their heads. We are facing a devastating housing affordability crisis.

To put a much-needed check on greed, Californians need REAL rent control. We must protect tenants facing the prospect of losing their homes because of skyrocketing rents—and preserve the pool of affordable, rent-stabilized housing in the long run. We can’t address the housing affordability crisis while we allow enormous loopholes in state law to continue without reform.

But California Democratic legislators, despite a supermajority in the State Legislature, have refused to act against powerful, monied interests: the real estate industry and corporate landlords who would have the housing affordability crisis continue rather than give up a cent of their enormous profits.

There are serious problems with the bill. The currently proposed rent cap (7% plus the cost of inflation) is significantly higher than what tenants can afford in an era of stagnant wages and severe income inequality. It risks becoming the new “floor”—the new normal for rent increases statewide. Further, it is excessive in terms of giving landlords a fair return on their properties. In addition, without vacancy control in the bill, we will continue to lose rent-capped or stabilized units from the affordable housing pool. Finally, AB 1482’s protections expire in only three years. Tenants in California need permanent protections in the face of runaway greed.

New York Democrats recently passed sweeping, and substantive, renter protections, despite fierce opposition from the real estate industry. California Democrats, governing a state in an acute housing affordability crisis, must follow their lead. The time for half-measures is over. We need real rent control—and we need it now!

Follow Housing Is A Human Right on Facebook and Twitter.