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California Assembly passes statewide rent control bill

David Chiu’s bill will cap rent hikes on most California apartments

Colorful San Francisco Victorian apartment buildings in a row. Photo by Shutterstock

The state Assembly finally passed SF-based Assemblymember David Chiu’s AB 1482—which will restrict landlords from increasing rents more than five percent per year plus inflation—by a margin of 48-26 on Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom promises to sign the bill once it reaches his desk, making new rent control provisions effectively the law of the land throughout California. The bill passed a senate vote earlier in the week.

“Sacramento has finally heard the voices of renters across our state who have traditionally been overlooked and ignored” a victorious Chiu said via email Wednesday.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), who coauthored the bill, promised that it will “protect millions of Californians.”

The new law first passed through the California Assembly in a much weaker form in May, and garnered fewer votes at the time.

Since then Chiu added language extending anti-eviction protections to renters (essentially resurrecting a defunct bill thought dead in May, AB 1481), extended the bill’s sunset date from three years to ten, and tightened the cap on rents to five percent annually plus inflation.

Previously, Chiu was forced to scrap the five percent formula in order to get the final assembly votes the bill needed to beat the May deadline.

But when Newsom endorsed the legislation in August and stepped in to help garner necessary votes, Chiu’s fortunes changed and the more aggressive version of the law once again turned competitive.

Chiu refers to AB 1482 as an “anti-rent gouging” measure, but it’s effectively rent control in practice.

The rent cap will apply to California apartments built more than 15 years ago, but doesn’t override more strict rent control rules on older units in cities like San Francisco.

Critics of the bill claim grim consequences will follow AB 1482’a passage. The California Rental Housing Association, a landlords lobby, said in a statement that the measure “will essentially guarantee annual housing increases as there is no ability to rollover increases to future years when property costs’ rise.”

The National Multi-Family Housing Council, a nonprofit for apartment development, predicted “the most effective way to fix California’s housing crisis is by building more housing across a range of price points, and AB 1482 makes that harder to do.”

Newsom has until October 13 to sign the new legislation.