by Ben Nicolas
on Thursday, October 4th, 2012 at 1:12pm.
WHAT IS RENT CONTROL?
Rent control, or rent stabilization, is much more than the 4% maximum increase to which people refer. It is a collection of laws that regulate how much a landlord can raise (or must reduce) the rent, limit the reasons for eviction, and more.
IS YOUR UNIT EXEMPT? Next, you need to know if your unit is under rent control. Rent control covers all residential units EXCEPT those fitting specified categories. The two biggest exemptions are (1) single family dwellings and (2) units built after 1978.
ARE YOU OVERPAYING THE LEGAL RENT?
You signed an agreement or otherwise started paying rent for your rent controlled unit at a rate which was advertised and you agreed to pay. However, that may be an illegal rent, and your remedies are powerful, including getting a drastic rent reduction and recovering triple the amount of any overcharge from the correct rate. It's like being paid less than minimum wage for work you do -you might agree to it, but the employer is breaking the law and deserves to be punished.
SUBSTANDARD HOUSING OR REAP:
Where the landlord has been cited by LA Code Enforcement inspectors for uninhabitable conditions and those conditions remain uncorrected, the City can file a "notice of non-compliance" with the California Franchise Tax Board [RTC 17299], which not only affects the deductibility of expenses for State income tax purposes, but also prevents the landlord from raising rents until the conditions are corrected. [Reg. 940.07]
HOW AM I PROTECTED FROM EVICTIONS?
Under the Los Angeles rent control law you cannot be evicted except for one of 12 listed reasons. 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 identify the reasons, circumstances, and witnesses for such reasons in the eviction notice, and then prove the reason for the eviction in court, under special procedures. Reasons fall into two categories: (1) where the tenant did something wrong, and (2) where the tenant is not at fault.
MAJOR REHABILITATION RELOCATION:
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 the 50% cost of the work can be applied to rent increases of up to 10%, as permitted by the Housing Department. Due to the age of many units in Los Angeles, and landlords attempting to remove protected tenants under false pretenses, this problem is increasingly common.
CONDO CONVERSION EVICTIONS AND RELOCATION ASSISTANCE:
With the upsurge in all housing prices returns the inevitable condo conversion. Condo conversion is where a landlord is permitted to call his apartment building a "condominium", and sell off the individual units. Apartments are build under much lower standards than new condominiums, as to the sound muffling of the walls, ceilings and floors, the thickness of the walls, and the quality of overall construction. By converting the cheap structure to a condominium, the landlord is able to double his money on the value of the property by doing no more than kicking you out, putting on a fresh coat of paint, and fixing a few things that he should have fixed during your tenancy. Condo conversion rules apply even where rent control doesn't.
For more detailed information (http://www.caltenantlaw.com/LARSO.htm) and the complete ordinance and statutes (http://www.caltenantlaw.com/LACondoConv.htm). Click the links accordingly.