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David Chiu’s rent cap bill gets stronger, lasts longer

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“As this bill moves forward, I will do everything in my power to get it over the line and ensure as many Californians as possible have protections”

Ornate and white Capitol Building in Sacramento flanked by palm trees. Photo by Feoktistoff/Shutterstock

A bill to limit how much landlords can raise rents each year in California got dramatically stronger Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers announced plans to beef up Assembly Bill 1482 by extending its lifespan and lowering the rent cap.

The bill introduced by Assemblymember David Chiu—who, in lieu of calling it rent control, is careful to label the measure an “anti-rent gouging” protection, even though it would in effect simulate rent control across many California cities—now halts rent hikes at five percent annually and lasts until 2030.

Previously the cap was seven percent, which, with inflation added, came out to around 10 percent in cities like San Francisco. The 2030 sunset is also a significant change from the previous 2023 date.

The cap would not apply to homes built within the last 15 years.

In a joint statement released Friday, Newsom, Chiu, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said, “The bill will protect millions of renters from rent-gouging and evictions and build on the Legislature’s work this year to address our broader housing crisis.”

Also on Friday, AB 1482 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-2 vote.

While this might sound like a routine milestone, the Appropriations Committee is actually a major hazard, as it is an easy place for the California Senate to smother divisive legislation that lawmakers might not want to vote on.

After the vote, Chiu said, “As this bill moves forward, I will do everything in my power to get it over the line and ensure as many Californians as possible have protections.”

The tenants group Housing Is a Human Right—an arm of the LA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, criticized Chiu’s bill once again last week, saying that the rent cap is still “significantly higher than what tenants can afford in an era of stagnant wages and severe income inequality.”

However, that statement came before Newsom et al., announced the new lower cap; no word yet on if the foundation has changed its opinion.

The California Rental Housing Association, a lobbying group for landlords that’s part of the National Apartment Association, repeated its past criticisms that the plan will “discourage needed rental housing supply,” in a statement by association President Sid Lakireddy.

To make it to Newsom’s desk, AB 1482 must pass an additional rules committee vote as well as votes on the Senate and Assembly floor.