Los Angeles, the city of hills and valleys and home to the stars, with year-round warm weather is a glorious and beautiful place to live. It’s also expensive. The cost of rent in Los Angeles is notoriously high, although fortunately the city’s rent control laws make renting certain apartments manageable.

If you live in a rent-controlled apartment, here’s everything you should know about what that means for you.

 

What is rent control?

The rules guiding rent control vary from city to city, but the objective is usually the same. It’s to protect the tenant from exorbitant rent hikes and unfair eviction. In Los Angeles, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) is a law that restricts the amount of money a landlord can charge for rent and limits the reasons for tenant eviction. The Rent Stabilization Board of Los Angeles (RSB) enforces this law.

a furnished apartment living room with big windows in the corner and a grey couch in the foreground in the right corner. There is a wooden coffee table and a throw rug underneath. There is a brown leather armchair in the corner with a grey blanket thrown on top and a grey footstool nearby.

The law pretty much only covers Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, West Hollywood and some unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

 

Is your apartment rent controlled?

Properties built on or before the 1st of October 1978 are covered by the RSO. Properties built after July 2007 to replace demolished RSO properties are also covered. Mobile homes in mobile home parks are also covered. Even when a building meets the specifications, certain exceptions may prevent them from being covered by the RSO. For instance:

  • If you live in a single-family home that is the only building on the property
  • Hotel and motel rooms occupied for less than 30 days
  • Commercial buildings that were converted to residential buildings after October 1st, 1978
  • Luxury apartments
  • Buildings completed after 1978
  • Government-funded properties

 

How do I know when my apartment was built?

You can easily check this with the city’s property database. With just a few clicks online you can find out whether or not your apartment is covered under the RSO.

 

Can my rent be increased?

Yes. The RSO allows your landlord to increase your rent by 3-8% once every twelve months. The exact number varies from year to year and depends on the consumer price index. This is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid for consumer goods and services. In 2019, as well as for the past couple of years, the number has been set at 3%. If an additional tenant moves into the property, the landlord is allowed to increase the rent within 60 days of learning about that additional tenant. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. When a tenant moves out of a rent-controlled apartment voluntarily, the landlord is then allowed to raise the rent to whatever they deem fit.

Unfortunately this clause tends to be exploited by landlords who want to increase the rent beyond the stipulated 3%. That’s why the RSO also provides protection against the unjustified eviction of tenants.

For non-rent controlled buildings after the initial lease, the landlords can charge whatever they want. With a furnished apartment in Los Angeles provided by Blueground, the tenant is provided with the expected monthly rent cost upfront. Depending on the length of stay, discounts on rent are provided. 

Even though tenants living in rent-controlled apartments enjoy more protection than those who don’t, you can still be evicted. Under the RSO, evictions are only allowed in specific situations. Such as: 

  • Failure to provide the landlord with reasonable access to the property
  • Violating the rental agreement
  • Causing damage to the property
  • Refusal to pay rent
  • Using the rented property for illegal activities
  • Causing a nuisance
  • Illegally subletting the apartment

a landlord-tenant law book with a blue cover sitting on a wooden table next to an eviction notice

In the case of an eviction, if the tenant is not at fault then the landlord may have to pay the tenant a fee for relocation assistance. A landlord is allowed to evict their tenant when taking the building off the market either to tear it down or renovate.

In such instances, the property owner is also required to pay a relocation fee to help the tenant find a new place. The fee usually depends on how long the tenant has lived in the building and how much money they earn. The eviction notice must include details about the eviction, such as what was done, the dates, times, and witnesses.

In cities without rent control, tenants can be evicted for any reason or even no reason at all. This prevents the landlord from getting around the rent increase restrictions by evicting their tenant.

 

Other benefits

Security deposit interest

Besides protection from unjustifiable eviction and rent increase, you are entitled to a 1% interest per year on your security deposit if you’ve stayed in the rent-controlled apartment for at least a year.

Rent reduction ordered by the RSB

If there is an overcharge or your apartment is inhabitable you can file a complaint with the RSB who has the power to reduce your rent after inviting your landlord for a hearing. In extreme circumstances where the building is inhabitable and the landlord refuses to rehabilitate it, the building can be taken over by the city. They would then reduce the tenants’ rent and use the proceeds to restore it to livable conditions.

Temporary relocation

Where the landlord has to perform a major rehabilitation on the building, the landlord has to temporarily relocate their tenants and can’t evict them. The landlord must pay for this temporary relocation cost. 50% of the cost of rehabilitation can be offset by a rent increase of up to 10% permitted by the RSB. The tenant is also obligated to continue to pay rent on the apartment.

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