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California governor strengthens bill for statewide rent control

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But will it pass?

Aerial view of a cityscape with treetops and rooftops sprawling out before taller buildings and mountains.
Under the latest version of Assembly Bill 1482, rents would be capped at 5 percent, plus inflation, statewide.
Photo by Liz Kuball

A stronger version of California’s rent control bill is primed to head to the Senate floor. But its passage is not guaranteed, even with the governor’s support.

Late Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Assembly and Senate leadership announced a deal to strengthen Assembly Bill 1482, including reverting the amount that landlords across the state would be able to raise rent in one year, reducing it from 7 percent plus inflation to 5 percent plus inflation.

“With the governor and the pro-tem and the speakers’ support, we have a lot more people in support of the bill than we did last week,” says Jennifer Kwart, a spokesperson for Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill. “But tenant bills are hard, and it’s still an uphill battle.”

With two weeks before the end of the Legislative session, AB 1482 is up against a tight deadline. Because of the changes, it will have to pass the Senate and the Assembly—again—by September 13.

When AB 1482 was approved in the Assembly in May, the renter protections were not as strong. Not only was the rent cap higher, but the bill was set to expire in three years. Under the deal announced Friday, it would expire in 10 years.

Those weaker provisions came about under negotiations with the California Association of Realtors, a powerful lobbying group.

The bill now more closely resembles how it looked when it was introduced in February, before the Assembly approved it, and the realtors association is urging its 200,000 members to tell their local lawmakers to vote against it.

“The proposed version of AB 1482 headed to the Senate floor will not incentivize production of rental housing or help more people find an affordable place to live,” the association’s president Jared Martin said in a statement.

The governor’s amendments are being drafted into the bill now, and it could face a vote in the Senate as soon as early as next week, Kwart says.

The city of Los Angeles has had a rent control law in place for 40 years; it typically caps rent around 3 or 4 percent. AB 1482 would not override local rent control policies, but it would extend to apartments and other homes not already covered by them, including newer buildings.