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LA Rent Information

LA Rent Control Made Simple

More tenants come under Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance [LARSO] than in any other city in California. Many rent control laws are similar, and you can get the details on each law from the Legal Research page of this site. The information on this page is directed only to Los Angeles tenants. The information here is simplified, and therefore inaccurate.

What is Rent Control?
Rent control, or rent stabilization, is a collection of laws that restrict the rents a landlord can charge and limits the reasons for eviction. The two work together, so that the landlord doesn’t get around a rent limit by evicting the tenant, instead, or vice versa. Los Angeles [the white areas in a Thomas Guide] is a huge area covering neighborhoods so large we think of them as cities: Westchester, San Pedro, Hollywood, Northridge, Encino, Woodland Hills, Van Nuys, Sunland, Eagle Rock, etc.  There are other cites in the area that have rent control, like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. Los Angeles City Council passed rent control in 1978 and has maintained it ever since. Rent control is part of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the ordinances which specially regulate things within the city.

The Rent Stabilization Board of Los Angeles [RSB] is part of the city Housing Department, which also sends out Code Enforcement building inspectors to cite the landlords for substandard buildings, and require the landlord to make repairs. Rent Stabilization Board makes its own Regulations to clarify the rent control law, and help in applying it.

Are you under Rent Control?
The rights you have living in Los Angeles depend on whether your rental unit is under rent control. It’s a simple question with a complex answer. The answer is YES, UNLESS your unit comes within one of the exceptions [to which there are further exceptions]. The major exceptions are buildings completed after 1978, one house on a lot, government funded units, and luxury units. If you are under rent control, you have at least eviction protections, relocation assistance, and security deposit interest. Whether you are also protected from rent increases depends on when your tenancy started.

Are you protected from rent increases?
The “Costa-Hawkins” Act created statewide “vacancy de-control” in two respects: (1) If the prior tenant leaves voluntarily or is evicted, the landlord can raise the rent for the new tenant to the whatever they can get, and the new tenant is no longer under rent control. This has encouraged landlords to make up ridiculous and false reasons for eviction of rent controlled tenants, just in order to raise the rents. For those under rent restrictions, the legal maximum increase has been 3% for the past several years. (2) For rental housing built after 1995, that construction is generally exempt from rent controls, although eviction protections are allowed. Under a new revision [Ordinance 174501], if a landlord terminates a Section 8 or other rental assistance contract, he CANNOT INCREASE that tenant’s portion of the rent; for example, if the tenant paid $200 of a $1000 rent under Section 8, the landlord could stop Section 8, but still only get $200, giving up the other $800 [This law is currently challenged and on appeal, so its fate is not yet determined.]

How am I protected from Evictions?
If you are under rent control, even if you don’t have the rent increase limits, the Los Angeles rent control law limits evictions to 12 legitimate reasons, in order to prevent eviction abuses. Unlike cities without rent control where tenants can be evicted for nearly any reason or no reason at all, in Los Angeles, the landlord must prove the reason for the eviction, and follow special procedures for some evictions.  Reasons fall into two categories: (1) where the tenant did something wrong, and (2) where the tenant is not at fault.  Eviction for nonpayment of a rent increase prohibited by Ordinance 174501 [see above] may look legitimate, but it is not.

In the first category, tenants may be evicted for nonpayment of (legal) rent, breaking a term of the lease, causing a nuisance [including drugs and gangs], using the unit for an illegal purpose [eg, a machine shop in an apartment], refusal to renew the lease on similar terms, refusal to permit the landlord reasonable entry to inspect or repair, or there is a different person in possession of the unit than who rented it.  In the second category, the landlord has to get and serve special papers with the city Housing Department after proving the reason is valid:  the owner’s family member or a new manager is moving into that unit, the house is no longer going to be a rental, the property is condemned, or HUD is selling the property. In this second category, the landlord must pay the tenant $3,300 relocation assistance [or $8,200 if the tenant has minor children, a legal disability, or is over 62 years old; new amounts effective 7/1/05] Evictions for major rehabilitation are no longer allowed. See the special section on rehabilitation, below.

The eviction notice itself has to give details on the eviction, such as what was done, the dates, times, and witnesses, so that the landlord cannot make something up in Court and catch the tenant unprepared. [State law now also requires a Pay-or-Quit notice to specify how and to whom the money is to be paid.]

The landlord cannot change the rules to prohibit pets and then evict for having a pet. The law [Ordinance 175130] changed in March, 2003 to prohibit ANY changes [beyond legal rent increases and government required additions] in a rental agreement UNLESS the tenant VOLUNTARILY agrees in writing. The landlord cannot take away parking spaces, swimming pool privileges, change the “rules,” or manner of payment, for example, without the tenant’s consent. This is a significant change in the law.

The landlord cannot evict for having additional occupants [ie, staying more than 30 days] if they are the tenant’s children or the tenant pays another 10% per person [except the first additional child].

If the landlord has not registered the unit with the RSB, he can’t evict; you are supposed to get a copy of the registration certificate, but you can call the RSB to find out by phone.

The landlord has to convince the judge of his real reason for the eviction, which is much harder than non-controlled cites, where the landlord only has to prove that he gave a 30-day notice to win.

Interest on Security Deposits
You are entitled to 1% interest per year on your security deposit, if you have stayed there at least a year.

Rent Reduction Hearing
The RSB has the authority to reduce your rent if your unit is uninhabitable or there is an overcharge. You file a complaint, and the landlord has to come to a hearing where the reduction is determined.

Under extreme circumstances, where the landlord ignores or refuses to repair the items required by the building inspector, the building can be taken over by City under “REAP” program, reducing the tenants’ rent, and using the amounts paid to rehabilitate the building.

Major Rehabilitation Relocation
Effective 5/2/05, where the landlord has to perform major rehabilitation on a unit or portions of the entire building, the tenants can be temporarily relocated [NOT EVICTED], and 50% of the cost of the work can be applied to rent increases of up to 10%, as permitted by the Housing Department. The landlord must pay for all of the temporary relocation costs of the tenant, including hotel expenses, food, day care, moving costs, and phone transfers. If the work will take longer than 30 days, the temporary housing must be comparable in size, rooms, accessibility, and proximity to services and institutions [schools, hospitals, etc], such as another unit in the complex or a different apartment building entirely. If less than 30 days, it can be a hotel or motel within 2 miles, suitable for the tenants’ needs, with standard amenities. The landlord has to give at least 7 days’ notice to return to the apartment, afterwards.

The tenant must cooperate, or be evicted on that ground. However, the landlord cannot evict without following every procedure, including paying for all accommodations, presenting the plan, and giving the required notices.. The tenant must also continue to pay rent for the unit. If the repairs are minor, the landlord can perform the work during 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday, without relocating the tenant at all, so long as the tenant is not exposed to toxic substances, such as asbestos, lead paint, or mold. The relocation Plan will be given to the affected tenants and the Housing Department, and the tenants will have 15 days to object to any portion of it. In the alternative, any tenant can make a separate agreement for a daily payment and live with a friend or relative. For any work that takes over 30 days, the tenant has the option to cancel their rental agreement, move out, and receive their security deposit plus either the $3,300 or $8,200 relocation assistance [as it applies to them].  On the other hand, the penalties are severe against landlords who try to cheat, including paying up to 3 times the amount of any expenses incurred by the tenant if they don’t pay for lodgings, food, etc, plus attorney fees and costs. The landlord can be prosecuted for misdemeanors for attempts to circumvent these laws, denied rent increases to reimburse the work costs for failure to comply with these tenant protections, and special penalties for individual technical compliance.

It is a complicated set of laws, with some exceptions and special rules, but it basically prevents the landlord from permanently evicting a tenant under the pretense of fixing the building, only to jack up rents and circumvent rent control. Instead, it provides for the temporary relocation of tenants where necessary, until the work is complete, preventing the landlord from unduly delaying any repairs until the tenants give up hope.

Three New LA Rent Control Laws

Ordinance 176544 effective 5/2/05, eliminated evictions for rehabilitation purposes, and replaced it with temporary relocation procedures, including paying for temporary lodging in a hotel or other apartment, food, and related expenses, all supervised by the Housing Department under a Plan. [Text]  It creates different plans depending on whether the work will take more or less than 30 days. The Housing Department supervises the process and approves the plans, to which tenants can object and possibly change. The tenants have the option to vacate the premises and collect their permanent relocation assistance, instead [$3200 or $8000], where the work will last longer than 30 days.

Ordinance 174501 protects tenants under rental assistance programs after termination of that program. It amends LAMC 151.04 to prevent the landlord from increasing the tenant’s portion of the rent beyond the legal percentage increase. The landlords had been terminating the Section 8 and other contracts, and then increasing the tenant’s rent [eg, from $125 to $1000] to make up for the missing Section 8 money. Now, the landlord can get out of the program, but also gives up all that subsidy money.:

 

    A. It shall be unlawful for any landlord to demand, accept, or retain more than the maximum adjusted rent permitted pursuant to this chapter or regulation or orders adopted pursuant to this chapter.
B. It shall be unlawful for any landlord to terminate or fail to renew a rental assistance contract with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles [HACLA] and then demand that the tenant pay rent in excess of the tenant’s portion of the rent under the rental assistance contract.

 

This law has been challenged by the landlords and is currently on appeal. [Burton Ferrell III vs. City Of Los Angeles. Case #BC278874] ; the City can’t enforce the law, but until the City repeals the law or an appellate court publishes its decision striking the ordinance as unconstitutional, it should continue to apply.


Ordinance 175130 prohibits the landlord from unilaterally changing terms of tenancy, other than legal rent increases or governmentally required provisions [eg, CC 1962 provisions, lead paint, radon, military ordnance]. Landlords would change terms of tenancy and then evict for violation of the new term, such as converting to a non-smoking unit, or would simply remove tenant rights like parking or rule changes. Now, these can only be done by voluntary [not coerced] written modification. New LAMC 151.09(2)(c) reads [eviction may be based upon contract breach other than…]:

 

(c) A change in the terms of the tenancy that is not the result of an express written agreement signed by both of the parties. parties. For purposes of this section, a landlord may not unilaterally change the terms of the tenancy under Civil Code Section 827 and then evict the tenant for the violation of the added covenant. The tenant must knowingly consent, without threat or coercion, to each change in the terms of tenancy. A landlord is not required to obtain a tenant’s written consent to a change in the terms of the tenancy if the change in the terms of the tenancy is authorized by Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 151.06, or if the landlord is required to change the terms of the tenancy pursuant to federal, state, or local law. Nothing in this paragraph shall exempt a landlord from providing legally required notice of a change in the terms of tenancy.

 

These laws are not in the books, nor on line, so you should get a certified copy of them from the City Clerk for Judicial Notice purposes.

Los Angeles Condo Conversion Laws

SEC. 47.06. TENANT RELOCATION ASSISTANCE WHERE APARTMENTS ARE TO BE CONVERTED.

(Title and Section Amended by Ord. No. 153,592, Eff. 5/11/80.)

A. Statement of Purposes. At the present time, there is a critically short supply of rental housing in the City of Los Angeles. Many rental housing units have been removed from the rental market through conversion to condominiums, stock cooperatives, community apartment projects, hotels and commercial uses. Tenants who are evicted due to conversion are experiencing serious difficulties in locating comparable replacement rental housing. These difficulties are particularly acute for elderly tenants and those with physical limitations, particularly the handicapped and disabled. In addition, families with minor dependent children face greater relocation difficulties than families without such children.

The City’s condominium conversion ordinance addresses these grave public health and welfare problems in the context of new conversions of existing rental units to various forms of divided ownership. However, that ordinance does not provide assistance to tenants displaced due to the conversion of their rental units to condominiums, stock cooperatives or community apartment projects exempted from the new conversion ordinance, or to hotels. Additionally, in some instances tenants displaced due to conversions already approved by the City (under the previous conversion ordinance) are not receiving relocation assistance, yet often face similar relocation difficulties.

Since the conversion of rental units to condominiums, stock cooperatives, community apartment projects, hotels and commercial uses is a substantial cause of the rental housing shortage, the City Council finds and declares that it would be just and proper for the subdividers who may enjoy the benefits of such conversions to assist tenants who are displaced by the conversion activity and who otherwise would be forced to bear the burdens of displacement without any assistance. The Council also finds that the necessity for relocation assistance is significantly less for the tenants of luxury apartment units.

B. Definitions. For purposes of this section, the definitions in Section 12.03 of this Code and the following definitions shall apply:

Landlord: An owner, lessor, or sublessor, (including any person, firm, corporation, partnership, or other entity) who receives or is entitled to receive rent for the use of any rental unit, or the agent, representative or successor of any of the foregoing.

Notice of Termination: The notice of intention to terminate tenancy, whether given by a landlord or by a tenant, provided for by California Civil Code Section 1946. (Amended by Ord. No. 155,397, Eff. 8/2/81.)

Qualified Tenant: Any tenant who satisfies any of the following criteria on the date said tenant gives or receives a Notice of Termination: has attained age 62; is handicapped as defined in Section 50072 of the California Health and Safety Code; is disabled as defined Title 42 United States Code 423; or is a person residing with and on whom is legally dependent (as determined for federal income tax purposes) one or more minor children. (Amended by Ord. No. 162,743, Eff. 9/24/87.)

Rental Unit: Each dwelling unit, efficiency dwelling unit, guest room, and suite in the City of Los Angeles, as defined in Section 12.03 of this Code, together with the land and buildings appurtenant thereto, and all housing services, privileges, furnishings and facilities supplied in connection with the use or occupancy thereof, including garage and parking facilities. The term shall not include:

1. A one-family dwelling, except where three or more dwelling units are located on the same lot;

2. Housing accommodations in hotels, motels, inns, tourist homes and boarding and rooming houses, provided that at such time as an accommodation has been occupied by one or more of the same tenants for sixty 60 days or more such accommodation shall become a rental unit subject to the provisions of this section.

3. Housing accommodations in any hospital, convent, monastery, extended medical care facility, asylum, nonprofit home for the aged, fraternity or sorority house, or housing accommodations owned, operated or managed by an institution of higher education, a high school or an elementary school for occupancy by its students.

4. Housing accommodations which a government unit, agency or authority owns, operates, or manages, or which are specifically exempted from municipal rent regulation by state or federal law or administrative regulation.

5. Luxury housing accommodations wherein as of May 31,1978 the rent charged per month was at least $302 for a unit with no bedrooms, $420 for a unit with one bedroom; $588 for a unit with two bedrooms; $756 for a unit with three bedrooms; and $823 for a unit with four bedrooms or more.

6. Mobile home.

Tenant: A tenant, subtenant, lessee, sublessee, or any other person entitled to use or occupancy of a rental unit. Tenant does not include any person who:

(1) is residing in a conversion project and intends to purchase a unit in such project after conversion has been accomplished, or who intends to reside with such a purchaser, or

(2) received actual written notice, prior to entering into a written or oral agreement to become a tenant, that an application to convert the building to a condominium, stock cooperative or community apartment project was on file with the City or had already been approved, whichever the case may be.

C. Relocation Assistance Required. In connection with the conversion of a building into a condominium, community apartment or stock corporative, as those terms are defined in California Government Code and Business and Professions Code, or into a hotel or apartment hotel or to a use permitted in any commercial zone, the landlord shall provide relocation assistance to each tenant in accordance with Subsection D. This subsection shall not apply where a subdivision map application for condominiums, stock cooperative or community apartment purposes was filed for approval with the City prior to the issuance of the original certificate of occupancy for the building. A landlord’s obligation to comply with Subsection D does not exist prior to the time the landlord gives the notice of intention to convert required by Government Code Section 66427.1. (Amended by Ord. No. 155,397, Eff. 8/2/81.)

D. Relocation Assistance. Relocation assistance, where required by the preceding subsection, shall be provided in accordance with the following provisions.

1. Landlord’s Responsibility.

a. The landlord shall:

(1) Make available to each tenant, at no cost, a reasonably complete and current list of vacant and available rental units within a one and one half mile radius of the building being converted, which units are comparable as to size and amenities to the unit occupied by the tenant, and

(2) Make a reasonable and good faith effort to assure that tenants without cars are driven, at no cost, and tenants with cars are assisted, in order to inspect replacement rental units, and

(3) Hire an ambulance or similar vehicle, at no cost to the tenant, and otherwise take reasonable steps to assist any disabled or handicapped tenant with relocation-related activities, and

(4) (Amended by Ord. No. 175,980, Eff. 7/3/04.) Pay a relocation fee of $8,000 to qualified tenants and a $3,200 fee to all other tenants in order to assist the tenants in meeting costs of relocation, higher rents for replacement housing, and any related expenses. For the year beginning July 1, 2005 and all subsequent years, the fee amounts shall be adjusted on an annual basis pursuant to the formula set forth in Section 151.06 D. The adjusted amount shall be rounded to the nearest fifty dollar increment.

This payment shall be made as follows:

(a) The entire fee shall be paid to a tenant who is the only tenant in a rental unit;

(b) If a rental unit is occupied by two or more tenants, any one of whom is a qualified tenant, then each tenant of the unit shall be paid a pro-rata share of the $8,000 fee;

(c) If a rental unit is occupied by two or more tenants, none of whom is a qualified tenant, then each tenant of the unit shall be paid a pro-rata share of the $3,200 fee.

In no event shall the landlord be liable to pay more than $8,000 to all tenants residing in a unit in which at least one qualified tenant lives, or to pay more than $3,200 to all tenants residing in a unit in which no tenant is a qualified tenant. If a tenant is entitled to monetary relocation benefits pursuant to City administrative agency action or any provision of local, state or federal law, then those benefits shall operate as a credit against any fee required to be paid to the tenant under this section.

b. In lieu of the assistance provided for in Paragraph a. above, the landlord may elect to relocate any tenant into a comparable replacement rental unit satisfactory to the tenant and pay all actual costs of relocating the tenant up to a maximum of $8,000 per household. A tenant may not unreasonably withhold approval of a replacement rental unit offered by the landlord. For purposes of this provision only, comparability shall be determined from the following factors: size; price; location; proximity to medical and recreational facilities, parks, community centers, shops, transportation, schools, churches, and synagogues; and amenities. (Amended by Ord. No. 175,980, Eff. 7/3/04.)

2. When Assistance Shall be Provided. (Amended by Ord. No. 155, 397, Eff. 8/2/81.)

a. List of Available Rental Units. The landlord shall perform the acts described in Subparagraph (1) of Paragraph a of Subdivision 1 above for the period beginning on or before the service of the 180 days notice of intention to convert, until the date of termination set forth in the Notice of Termination.

b. Transportation. The landlord shall perform the acts described in Subparagraphs (2) and (3) of Paragraph a of Subdivision 1 above for the period beginning on or before the service of the 180 days notice of intention to convert described in Government Code Section 66427.1(c), until the date of termination set forth in the Notice of Termination.

c. Monetary Assistance. The landlord shall perform the acts described in Subparagraph 4 of Paragraph a of Subdivision 1 above within 15 days of service of the Notice of Termination.

d. Replacement Housing. In lieu of the acts described in Paragraph a of Subdivision 1 above, the landlord may perform the acts described in Paragraph b of Subdivision 1 within 15 days of service of the 180 days notice of intention to convert described in Government Code Section 66427.1(c).

E. Civil Remedies. In an action by a landlord to recover possession of a rental unit, a tenant may raise as an affirmative defense the failure of the landlord to comply with Subsection D of this section. In addition, any landlord who fails to provide monetary relocation assistance to a tenant as required by this section shall be liable in a civil action to the tenant to whom such assistance is due for damages in the amount the landlord has failed to pay, together with reasonable attorney fees and costs as determined by the court. (Amended by Ord. No. 155,397, Eff. 8/2/81.)

F. Applicability.

1. This section, as enacted in Ordinance No. 153,251, shall apply to judicial proceedings to recover possession of a rental unit occupied by a qualified tenant commenced on or after December 15, 1979 and before April 1, 1980.

2. This section, as amended herein, shall apply to judicial proceedings to recover possession of a rental unit occupied by a tenant commenced on or after April 1, 1980.


GOV §66427.1. The legislative body shall not approve a final map for a subdivision to be created from the conversion of residential real property into a condominium project, a community apartment project, or a stock cooperative project unless it finds all of the following:
(a) Each of the tenants of the proposed condominium, community apartment project or stock cooperative project has received, pursuant to Section 66452.9, written notification of intention to convert at least 60 days prior to the filing of a tentative map pursuant to Section 66452. There shall be a further finding that each such tenant, and each person applying for the rental of a unit in such residential real property, has, or will have, received all applicable notices and rights now or hereafter required by this chapter or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 66451). In addition, a finding shall be made that each tenant has received 10 days’ written notification that an application for a public report will be, or has been, submitted to the Department of Real Estate, and that such report will be available on request. The written notices to tenants required by this subdivision shall be deemed satisfied if such notices comply with the legal requirements for service by mail.
(b) Each of the tenants of the proposed condominium, community apartment project, or stock cooperative project has been, or will be, given written notification within 10 days of approval of a final map for the proposed conversion.
(c) Each of the tenants of the proposed condominium, community apartment project, or stock cooperative project has been, or will be, given 180 days’ written notice of intention to convert prior to termination of tenancy due to the conversion or proposed conversion. The provisions of this subdivision shall not alter or abridge the rights or obligations of the parties in performance of their covenants, including, but not limited to, the provision of services, payment of rent or the obligations imposed by Sections 1941, 1941.1, and 1941.2 of the Civil Code.
(d) Each of the tenants of the proposed condominium, community apartment project, or stock cooperative project has been, or will be, given notice of an exclusive right to contract for the purchase of his or her respective unit upon the same terms and conditions that such unit will be initially offered to the general public or terms more favorable to the tenant. The right shall run for a period of not less than 90 days from the date of issuance of the subdivision public report pursuant to Section 11018.2 of the Business and Professions Code, unless the tenant gives prior written notice of his or her intention not to exercise the right.
(e) This section shall not diminish, limit or expand, other than as provided herein, the authority of any city, county, or city and county to approve or disapprove condominium projects.

GOV §66451.3. (a) Unless otherwise provided by this division, notice of a hearing held pursuant to this division shall be given pursuant to Sections 65090 and 65091.
(b) If the proposed subdivision is a conversion of residential real property to a condominium project, community apartment project, or stock cooperative project, the notice shall also be given by the local agency by United States mail to each tenant of the subject property, and shall also include notification of the tenant’s right to appear and be heard. The requirements of this subdivision may be satisfied by service of the notice in compliance with the requirements for service of legal process by mail.

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