Applicability of California’s Rent Control Laws: California Civil Code Sections 1946.2 and 1947.12 took effect on January 1, 2020, and implement statewide rent control in California for most residential properties. The rent control laws, however, do not apply to a rental property that was issued a certificate of occupancy in the last 15 years. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.12(d)(4), 1946.2(e)(7)). The statutes also do not apply to most single-family residences, provided that (a) the owner is not a real estate investment trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company where one of the members is a corporation, and (b) the required statutory language is included in the lease agreement for tenancies commencing or renewing on or after July 1, 2020. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.12(d)(5), 1946.2(e)(8)).
Annual Increases Permitted Under California’s Rent Control Laws: Commencing on January 1, 2020, unless otherwise permitted by California law, a Landlord cannot increase the gross rental rate for a rental unit over a continuous 12-month period more than the change in the regional cost of living index where the property is located plus 5%, and gross rental rate increases are subject to a maximum cap of 10% over a continuous 12-month period regardless of the change in the cost of living index. (Civ. Code § 1947.12(a)(1)). The gross rental rate is determined using the lowest rental amount charged in any month in the immediately preceding 12 months. (Id.) Any incentives, discounts, concessions, or credits are not taken into account. (Id.) Even if a rent increase does not exceed the amount permitted under the statute, a Landlord is prohibited from increasing rent more than twice in any continuous 12-month period. (Civ. Code § 1947.12(a)(2)).
Retroactive Applicability of Restrictions on Rent Increases: Although the statute took effect on January 1, 2020, the statute retroactively applies to all rent increases that occurred on or after March 15, 2019. (Civ. Code § 1947.12(h)(1)). If a landlord increased the rent amount more than the amount permitted under California Civil Code Section 1947.12(a)(1) after March 15, 2019, and prior to January 1, 2020, the rent amount on January 1, 2020, is reduced to the amount of the rent on March 15, 2019, plus the maximum permissible increase under California Civil Code Section 1947.12(a)(1). (Civ. Code § 1947.12(h)(2)). The Landlord does not have to refund the tenant any rent payments that were in excess of the permissible rent increase that the tenant made prior to January 1, 2020. (Id.)