Tenants, Know Your Rights: The Tenant Protection Act
Tenants in California know that the rent in many major cities is too high. In recent years, landlords have taken advantage of the short supply of housing and changing communities to increase rents by unreasonable amounts, with 30, 50 and 100% rent increases becoming more common. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states that families who pay more than 30% of their income on rent, are “rent burdened” and may have difficulty affording other necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. For many families, substantial rent increases have subjected them to eviction and even worse, homelessness. In response, California passed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, in order to provide new rights for many tenants in California.
The Tenant Protection Act is a California statewide law that will take effect on January 1st, 2020. This new law limits how much landlords can legally increase rents by on an annual basis and provides additional eviction protections for tenants. Here is what every tenant in California needs to know:
1. DOES THE TENANT PROTECTION ACT APPLY TO YOU?
If you live in an apartment in California, chances are that the Tenant Protection Act applies to you. Protections under the new law apply mostly to apartments and exclude housing already subject to rent control, housing built after 2004, single family homes where the owner is not a corporation or limited liability company, and duplexes where the owner also lives.
2. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS UNDER THE TENANT PROTECTION ACT?
Beginning January 1st, 2020, your landlord cannot legally increase your rent more than once a year and cannot raise the rent by more than 5% plus local inflation or 10%, whichever is lower. Landlords may try to circumvent the new law by drastically increasing rent before the new law is to take effect on January 1st, 2020. However, in anticipation of these actions by landlords, the law will apply retroactively to all rent increases occurring after March 15th, 2019. This means that if your landlord increased your rent between March 15th, 2019 thru January 1st, 2020, the legal limit of the rent increase beginning January 1st, 2020 cannot exceed 5% plus inflation or 10% from whatever the rent was on March 15th, 2019. See California Civil Code §1947.12.
In addition, the Tenant Protection Act will also require landlords to prove “just cause” in order to evict tenants who have been living in the rental for at least twelve (12) months. Some ways that landlords can show “just cause” is if they can prove that the tenant has failed to pay their rent, engaged in illegal activity on the property, caused a nuisance or disturbance on the property, refused to give the owner reasonable access to enter the unit for the purpose of making improvements or repairs, or violated the lease agreement in a material way. See California Civil Code §1946.2(b)1.
Further, if your landlord attempts to evict you for no fault of your own, additional protections require landlords to provide “no fault” tenants relocation assistance. No fault eviction can include, for example, if the owner or a relative of the owner intend to move in, or if the owner plans to demolish or substantially remodel the property in such a way that the work cannot be completed safely with the tenant in place. In these circumstances, the law will require landlords to pay one month’s rent to the tenant directly or waive payment in writing for the last month’s rent. See also California Civil Code §1946.2(2).
Since 1995, attorney Eric Castelblanco has been dedicated to helping tenants understand and enforce their rights. For more information about your rights, call Castelblanco Law Group at 213-388-6004 or visit their website: www.castelblanco.com.
The information presented is for educational purposes. You should not take any action without seeking advice from an attorney regarding your individual situation.