Rent Control In Los Angeles: Tenant Rights & Renting In LA!

Miami City

Moving to a new city comes with a plethora of new to-do’s added to your list. As a renter, however, one might have a tougher time figuring out the city, its people and its weather. If luck’s not on your side, maybe even a snarky landlord. LA has a lot to offer, yep, but as a new renter in the city, things can become quite overwhelming. We’re not saying you are bound to end up with a nasty landlord. We’re just saying that in case you do, we got you covered. Renting in LA comes with certain precautionary measures that we’ll be covering today. And a broad overview of what Rent Control in Los Angeles looks like. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re going to be renting in LA!

Check out: Renting in LA Part One: The Search Guide

Los Angeles County's homeownership in the second quarter of 2020 has been at a low of 48.3% - which means the rest of the majority rents, besides the margin that is either homeless or in a shelter. Experts believe this trend is to continue until the end of 2023 among millennials, who have found themselves relentlessly renting among foreclosures, faltering prices, and rising FRM rates. 

Source: Los Angeles housing indicators; firsttuesdayJournal

Basically, a huge chunk of housing in LA is rent-based and shall continue remaining so. That is, (maybe) till the economy sees better days.

The most essential rights every tenant in LA should know about.

Habitable Conditions & Renting in LA

All landlords are required to provide livable conditions to their tenants. This means unbroken windows and doors, waterproofed walls and floors, functional plumbing with cold and hot water, and a vermin-free unit and building. Basically, everyone has a right to live in a hygienic space.

If the unit is not up to these basic standards, the landlord is supposed to remedy it immediately. And is not supposed to collect rent for that unit until all required fixing is done.

However, a lingering problem does not mean that the tenants stop paying rent. There has been a significant increase in rent strikes all over the country. But it is also important to note that the tenants who are on a rent strike are still paying rent. Their money just goes to an escrow account instead of the actual landlord. A consistent rent record is what helps the tenant maintain the upper-hand in a situation where your landlord refuses to provide you with livable conditions.

Mitigating an issue when you’re renting in LA.

This is what you can do if verbal communication with your landlord doesn’t get the job done.

  • send them a letter (clearly mentioning the date) with time-stamped pictures of the problem areas.
  • Add any other documentation that could be used later to show that your landlord was unhelpful despite being aware of the issue.

The Housing and Community Investment Department lists information here on initiating the city inspection process. This can help you, in case any of the previous steps don’t work.

Also, contrary to popular fears, filing a complaint does not get you evicted. People tend to sit on complaints, fearing an eviction, however, there are multiple state provisions of the city’s rent stabilization ordinance that are made to protect renters in these exact situations.

What if nothing works?

If even after a 60-day notice to your landlord nothing works, Housing Rights Center agrees that the best you can do is sue your landlord for the rent that you have already paid while you were living in an uninhabitable place.

Say, you find out that the place you were living in is illegal, like a garage that has been turned into a one-bedroom (LA has several of those) – you would have the same rights as a tenant in a permitted rented place. If the unit is rent-controlled, there are additional rights and protections that you can access.

Don’t know if your building is under rent control? Here’s a guide to figuring it out.

PRO TIP The Housing Rights Center recommends writing checks for rent to ensure there’s a paper trail and receipt every time.

The 24-hour rule for renting in LA.

When it comes to entering your unit, your landlord is required to give you a 24 hour notice – whether it is to show new tenants around or come in to make repairs. They can also only enter during proper business hours even with prior notice.

In the case of an emergency however, the landlord can enter without any notice whatsoever.

Rent Control in Los Angeles.

Rent-controlled housing also means that rent can only be only increased once a year, and even then only by a certain percentage, which is decided by the city. The LA annual rate of rent increase is 4%, but for other cities, the rate might vary.

Another advantage of living in a rent-controlled apartment is that you are protected against no-fault evictions by the state. These are situations where the tenant did not do anything wrong. In case you’re curious, here are some of the reasons that can get you evicted as a renter in Los Angeles.

Rent control in Los Angeles also means that tenants are entitled to mandatory compensation and time for relocation.

This year onwards, it is also illegal for LA landlords to discriminate against tenants who use Section 8 vouchers to pay their rent – which means, any ad that says “No Section 8” is not permitted anymore and no landlord can refuse rent only because the tenant is using the federal program for low-income renters.

Finally, here are some helpful organizations that provide help to LA renters that you can check out!

BASTA

A tenant’s rights organization that offers eviction defense services as well as education for renters.

Coalition for Economic Survival

A social and economic justice organization with walk-in clinic services and one-on-one help with counsellors and attorneys.

Eviction Defense Network

Legal services’ network for housing and eviction disputes, with a sliding scale fees for their services.

Housing Rights Center

All-round resource for renters, this non-profit offers regular walk-ins across LA.

Inquilinos Unidos (United Tenants)

A tenant advocacy organization that provides a free weekly tenant resource clinic to share information on renters’ rights and housing problems.

Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles

This foundation specializes in helping tenants that are on the verge of eviction, live in slum conditions, or are experiencing housing discrimination. They also provide resources for tenants in rent-controlled housing. This organization hosts both appointment-based meetings and walk-ins.

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