DOWNTOWN LA — After a heated discussion, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to raise the current cap on yearly rent increases from 3% to 4% for rent stabilized housing in unincorporated LA County at yesterday’s regular meeting. 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger (who represents the northeastern part of LA County) dissented, saying instead that no rent cap should exist at all.

The supervisors also voted unanimously to direct two County departments to conduct a lengthy assessment on the possibility of creating a permanent rent stabilization and a tenant protections ordinance. The report is expected back in 90 days. For such a routine vote the supervisors included a surprisingly large number of last-minute amendments accompanied with lots of discussion and bustle. Amendments included such things as an analysis of economic impact on small landlords and larger property owners, recommended by 2nd District supervisor Holly Mitchel (who represents much of southeast LA County) and 1st District supervisor Hilda Solis (who represents the center of LA county). 

The new rules only impact renters in unincorporated LA County. Sixteen LA County cities have adopted their own rent control ordinances including Cudahy, Bell Gardens, Pomona, Santa Monica, and the City of Los Angeles. The City of LA voted last week to allow 6% rent hikes on rent-controlled units.

Last November, the Board of Supervisors established a temporary 3% cap on the maximum allowable rent increase for qualifying rental units and mobile home spaces, which was set to expire on Dec. 31. The original motion scheduled for yesterday’s meeting proposed extending the 3% cap to June 30. However, supervisors Mitchell and Barger raised concerns about a 3% increase being a burden to property owners, especially so-called “mom-and-pop” landlords, who they say have experienced significant increases in expenses such as insurance, repairs, and energy costs.   

“We should be focusing on long term solutions, not stopgap policies that transfer the burden to small mom-and-pop landlords,” said Barger.

Under the previous rules LA County tenants would have faced potential rent increases of over 7% on Jan. 1 (in accord with the consumer price index). 

Increases of such size can put tenants at risk of becoming rent burden and eventually unhoused. The U.S. Government Accountability Office determined that as little as a $100 increase in monthly rent can put someone at risk of becoming unhoused. 

Approximately 35,583 “unlawful detainers” a landlord suing a tenant in an attempt to evict them cases were filed between January and September to the Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the motion. Ninety-six percent of eviction filings in LA city were for nonpayment of rent.

The 4% cap will be in effect until June 30 and does not apply to any of the county’s incorporated cities.

Ashley Orona is a journalist and community organizer from South Central Los Angeles. She loves spending time with her family, supporting local businesses, and finding new scenic views around LA.