California Rent Control Laws (2024)

Rent control limits how much a landlord can raise a property’s rent. While many states prohibit rent control in one way or another, California is not one of them. In fact, the Golden State has various rent control laws on the books to prevent landlords from raising rents excessively. In some cases, rent cannot be increased at all.

Let’s cover California rent control in greater detail so you know what to expect as a landlord.

Key Takeaways

  • The Tenant Protection Act (TPA) outlines California rent control laws.
  • Rent caps do not go into effect until after one year of tenancy.
  • California permits landlords to increase rent no more than twice yearly.
  • Rent increases cannot exceed 10% of the prior year’s rent or 5%, along with the change in the cost of utilities and essential services from the year before.
  • Landlords cannot evict tenants without just cause (i.e., a valid reason).

California Rent Control Laws: An Overview

Lawmakers implemented California’s Tenant Protection Act (TPA) to prevent landlords from over-the-top rent increases. In most cities in California, landlords can increase their rent twice annually.

Further, the TPA prevents landlords from increasing rent by more than 10% or 5%, plus the delta in the consumer price index (CPI), whichever is less. The CPI measures changes in the amount people pay for food, gas, electricity, medical care, transportation, clothing, education services, and other essential services.

Keep in mind that specific cities and counties may have higher or lower rent caps and regulations.

For example, the city or county limit may take precedence if the rent increase cap is lower than California’s overall cap. Ultimately, it’s important to stay current on California’s rent control laws as a landlord so you know what you can safely charge for rent, when you can increase it, and how different protections apply to tenants living at your property.

Rent Increase Limitations

  • As previously stated, rent cannot increase by more than 5% on top of the CPI change or 10% year over year, whichever is lower. Check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the up-to-date CPI in your city or county. Los Angeles is used for reference in the previous link.
  • These limitations are calculated by taking the total rent a tenant paid in the prior year and multiplying that amount by 10% or 5% (plus the CPI). Rent can increase no more than that percentage, and you must choose the lower value. Note: If you raised the tenant’s rent twice the year before, you would multiply that percentage by the lower rent. The percentages are enforced by state and local law.
  • Rent cannot be increased in the event of a perceived retaliation (180 days after an incident) or in an act of discrimination by age, race, religion, disability, military status, job, etc.
  • If a tenant moves out and the unit is vacant, the landlord can set a new rent price. That price will set the standard for landlords’ future rent increases.

Properties Exempt from Rent Control Laws

  • Properties that were built in the past 15 years
  • Single-family homes not owned by an REIT, corporation, or an LLC with a member classified as a corporation
  • Duplexes where the owner occupies a unit
  • Mobile homes (except housing offered for rent by the owner/manager of a mobile home park)
  • Affordable housing
  • Dorms

Just Cause for Eviction in California

In addition to rent control laws, the TPA outlines eviction rules. For instance, once a tenancy has elapsed for one year, a tenant can only be evicted for a number of reasons, including:

  • Missed rent payments
  • Violating a California lease agreement
  • Creating a nuisance situation (waste piling up, unlawful use of the property)
  • Criminal activity
  • Refusal to allow landlord access to the property
  • Refusal to accept a new lease with like terms and conditions

Note that these rules don’t apply to tenants who’ve lived at a property for less than a year.

Additionally, tenants can be evicted by no fault of their own. These are called no-fault evictions, and examples of no-fault eviction reasons include:

  • The owner or a family member takes up residence
  • Substantial remodeling or demolition of the unit
  • Taking the unit off the market
  • Government order or local law requiring the tenant to move

Remember that just because the eviction is “no-fault” does not necessarily mean that the landlord is acting with malicious intent. Things happen, and in the case of a no-fault eviction, the landlord will be responsible for assisting the tenant with their move. That assistance is equal to one month’s rent.

The good news for tenants is that California’s rent control laws and city/county laws are in place to protect them. Protections include:

  • Capping rent increases at no more than two per year
  • Not evicting a tenant without just cause (a valid reason to do so)
  • Relocation assistance if subject to a no-fault eviction

Landlord Rights and Responsibilities

In most California cities, landlords are allowed to raise rent twice a year. However, it’s important to remember that evictions can only be done with just cause, and self-help evictions are strictly prohibited.

Any rent increase requires a 30-day notice to the tenant. It’s also important to note that rent increases can only happen if the lease agreement explicitly allows for them during the tenancy. Landlords are responsible for keeping themselves updated on the ever-changing rent control laws that apply at the city, county, and state levels.

Check out the following link to learn about California landlord-tenant laws.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

California’s rent control laws offer protections for tenants. In other words, landlords are restricted from raising rent excessively or evicting a tenant in retaliation for reporting maintenance issues. For instance, if a tenant complains about faulty wiring, the landlord cannot do anything that could be construed as reacting to that reported event for a minimum of six months after the time of the report.

However, tenants also have responsibilities. They must promptly inform the landlord about any repairs or maintenance needs. Additionally, tenants have the right to sue if a landlord violates rent control laws by raising rent excessively, and tenants can only be evicted with just cause. Finally, just as landlords must stay informed about rent control regulations, tenants should also be familiar with the laws to protect their rights.

Navigating Rent Control Laws with TurboTenant

At TurboTenant, we offer a variety of services that are relevant to rent control, which is helpful because California is one of the few states that have laws that cap rent. We provide excellent resources if you want to ensure you’re acting according to local and state laws.

For example, TurboTenant is the premier rental management software. It offers convenient rent tracking and digital rent collection, so you’re always aware of rental pricing for each unit and who’s paid on time.

We also offer a credit check for tenantsCalifornia rental applications, lease agreement templates, and more property management services. Plus, streamline the California eviction process with our partner, EZ Evict USA. When you need the best in your corner, we’ve got you and your property covered.

Disclaimer: TurboTenant does not provide legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. All users are advised to check all applicable local, state, and federal laws and consult legal counsel should questions arise.

California Rent Control Laws FAQs

Which city has rent control in California?

The following cities in California have rent control: Los Angeles, San Jose, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Hayward, Oakland, East Palo Alto, and Los Gatos.

How many times can a landlord raise rent in California?

A landlord can raise rent twice each year in most parts of California. Be sure to check with your city and county for specific rules.

Is rent control legal in California?

Yes, rent control is widely practiced in California to provide greater protection for tenants.

What units are exempt from rent control in California?

Single-family homes and condos are not subject to rent control laws as long as they’re not owned and operated by a REIT or a corporation unless the property owner specifies an exemption. California’s rent control laws also do not apply to single-family houses with ADUs, duplexes, school dorms, select hotel rooms, mobile homes, affordable housing units, or landlord-tenant room-sharing situations.

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