California Rent Control – New Bill To Appear On 2020 Ballot

Published on February 16, 2020

A California rent control initiative has qualified for the November ballot. The state has seen skyrocketing housing costs impact its citizens throughout the last few decades, but it can’t seem to decide whether or not an expansion on rent control laws will help or hinder its bustling economy.

As one of the most self-sufficient states in the country, California’s cost of living is, on average, higher than most other places in the United States. Areas like San Francisco’s Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles boast some of the most expensive real estate in the world, but out of control rent prices and high costs of living make it hard for its younger generations to get ahead financially.

Rent Control’s Impact On The Bay Area

As a result, startups and other successful companies have opted to move their businesses to other states like Utah and Colorado where living costs and rent prices are much lower—both for office space and employee housing.

The “Rental Affordability Act” has, as of this month, acquired enough signatures to appear on the November ballot. The act will allow rent control to apply for homes built more recently, some up until as late as 2005. But rent control bills in the past have been confusing, with the fine print revealing little benefit to either renters or property owners.

A new, more straightforward bill might clear up some of the confusion and directly benefit renters in buildings owned by landlords that own two or more properties. Right now, cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have seen skyrocketing rent prices with little control over how high landlords can set the price.

New Bill Allows For Rent Control On Newer Buildings

Rent control in these urban areas might help stifle the growth long enough to allow for renters to get a leg up, but only with a bill that will enable straightforward solutions to a growing problem. The new bill would allow for rent control in buildings over 15 years old, enabling many existing rental units to qualify for a new system.

Much of San Francisco is currently rent controlled, but new initiatives on newer buildings would allow for greater rent control in areas that are newer, such as in Silicon Valley and parts of Los Angeles that were previously uncontrolled by rent control laws. Should the new rent control law pass, landlords would only be allowed to raise the rent on their tenants by a small amount each year to avoid over-inflation.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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