Los Angeles Faces Crucial Decision on Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Los Angeles Faces Crucial Decision on Rent Stabilization Ordinance
Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez, center, introduced a proposal to try to stave off the end of the city’s rent freeze for RSO units.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Tenant Protections and Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Nine months ago, Los Angeles City Council passed its most extensive tenant protections in decades. This move came as the city's COVID-19 anti-eviction rules were set to expire, potentially leading to a wave of evictions. Now, the city, grappling with a severe homelessness crisis, is approaching another turning point related to the COVID-19 emergency.

In February, landlords will have the option to raise rents on many tenants for the first time since the emergency protections came into effect in early 2020. These rules pertain to units under the city's Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), mainly covering apartments built before October 1978, which constitute roughly three-quarters of all multifamily rental units.

Concerns from Tenant Advocates

Tenant advocates express concerns that permitting landlords to increase rents by 7% (or up to 9% if landlords cover utilities) could have catastrophic consequences. They argue that this may drive more Angelenos into homelessness at a time when the city is striving to keep its most vulnerable renters housed. These advocates contend that such an increase would exacerbate the already severe housing crisis.

Councilmember Soto-Martínez's Proposal

Last week, Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez proposed a six-month freeze on RSO rents. This would allow the city's Housing Department sufficient time to conduct an economic study on the formula for allowable rent increases in RSO units. Soto-Martínez, the sole tenant on the City Council, resides in an RSO unit in East Hollywood.

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