AB 1482, an ‘Anti-Rent Gouging’ Law, Fails California Tenants

A so-called “anti-rent gouging” law championed by state politicians in 2019 has failed to protect California renters. Housing Is A Human Right opposed the legislation, known as AB 1482, three years ago, predicting a seriously bad deal for tenants. Unfortunately, Housing Is A Human Right’s concerns have been proven correct in 2022 as inflation increases.

In 2019, the California legislature proposed a supposed anti-rent gouging bill called AB 1482. It established a five percent annual rent cap plus inflation, and landlords were held to a maximum rent hike of 10 percent. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law in October 2019.

But the Los Angeles Times pointed out this week that the “10 percent limit applies to only complexes built before 2007 and those not subjected to rent-control restrictions, meaning that landlords of buildings that fall outside those parameters can raise their rents even higher.”

The LA Times added, “And because inflation is so high across the board right now, every region in the state meets the requirement for the cap to be set at a 10 percent increase.”

Numerous news outlets are reporting that tenants and activists are now fearing the worst: that landlords who fall under AB 1482 will hit tenants with the maximum 10 percent rent hike, with middle- and working-class renters squeezed even more by California’s ongoing housing affordability crisis.

For example, if a renter is already paying $2,000 per month to a landlord, a 10 percent increase will add another $200 — or, put another way, another $2,400 in rent for the year. That’s an enormous amount that poor and middle- and working-class tenants simply cannot afford, which can lead to devastating, life-altering consequences.

A recent study by Zillow found that in cities where people spend more than 32 percent of their take-home pay on rent, a spike in homelessness will follow. A 10 percent rent increase, as allowed by California law, will undoubtedly push many middle- and working-class tenants into shelling out more than 32 percent of their paychecks to landlords, causing them to face the possibility of homelessness.

In 2019, Housing Is A Human Right publicly opposed AB 1482, noting there were “serious problems with the bill.” We wrote: “The currently proposed rent cap is significantly higher than what tenants can afford in an era of stagnant wages and severe income inequality. It risks becoming the new floor — the new normal for rent increases statewide.”

Housing Is A Human Right instead urged “real rent control,” not AB 1482. “We must protect tenants facing the prospect of losing their homes because of skyrocketing rents — and preserve the pool of affordable, rent-stabilized housing in the long run.”

Housing Is A Human Right continues to advocate for strong rent control policies and the end of statewide restrictions on local rent control ordinances. It’s especially needed with the rise of corporate landlords, whose predatory business practices and unfair, excessive rent hikes have contributed mightily to the housing affordability and homelessness crises.

Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.

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