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Los Angeles City Council Rejects Six-Month Extension of Rent Freeze, Opts for Smaller Increases

Council Votes to Lower Permissible Rent Hikes, Sending Plan to Full Council

By Dolores Quintana

Members of the Los Angeles City Council’s Housing Committee vetoed a motion for a six-month extension of the pandemic-era ban on rent hikes, as reported by the LAist. The rent increase ban has been in effect for about three-and-a-half years and applied to most Los Angeles apartments. 

Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez introduced the proposal for a six-month extension last week. He argued that delaying the return of annual rent increases in Los Angeles’ rent-controlled apartments from February 1 to August 1 would provide council members with additional time to deliberate on the formulation of future rent-control policies. 

Several neighboring cities in the Los Angeles area with rent control regulations now limit increases to 3% or less. The schedule potentially raises rents by 9% at a maximum and 7% at a minimum. Soto Martinez’s website quotes the statistic that “A U.S. Government Accountability Office study found that a 9% increase in homelessness accompanied a rent increase of just $100/month.”

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield presented an alternate proposal, which he viewed as a compromise. His proposal maintains the February 1 date but allows for smaller rent increases based on more recent and lower inflation data, which the committee did approve. 

Blumenfield’s motion would reduce rent increases that are already scheduled for February 2024 for rent-controlled properties. The increase is currently capped at 7%, and Blumenfield’s proposal would lower that to 4%. The regulation would allow an additional increase of 2% for the landlords who provide electricity and gas for their tenants would still be in force. This motion is to advance for a vote before the full city council. It passed 3 to 2, with Blumenfield, Raman, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson voting for the motion and rent cap, and John Lee and Monica Rodriguez voted against it. The motion could still undergo changes before it is submitted to the full city council for approval. 

Soto Martinez proposed the motion to delay this rent increase, reasoning that it would have an explosive and deterrent effect on housing and further exacerbate the homelessness crisis. The Chair of the Housing Committee, Nithya Raman, responded that Soto Martinez’s motion did not have the support to pass. 

Blumenfield said, as quoted by the LAist, that he considered this 4% limit on permissible rent hikes, effective from February 1, as a plan “that nobody will be thrilled with, but sometimes that’s a sign of a good compromise.” This vote took place after an hour of contentious public comment session where tenants and landlords argued and lobbed accusations and ridicule back and forth.

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