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The big rent increase across California next month

People in masks and matching T-shirts stand in a crowd holding signs.
Tenants and housing rights activists protest in October 2020, calling for a halt to rent payments and mortgage debt during the pandemic.
(Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

Happy Thursday and hello from the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, July 21. I’m Liam Dillon, a metro reporter who covers housing affordability. I have some housing news you can use this morning.

Already, tenants across California might have gotten a notice posted to their doors promising a big rent increase come Aug. 1. And there will be something familiar to blame: inflation.

Landlords will be allowed to boost the rent on millions of apartments statewide by as much as 10% starting next month. It’s the maximum allowable annual increase under a state law passed a few years ago that was designed to protect tenants from being pushed out of their homes due to exorbitant rent hikes.

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The law caps annual rent increases at 5% plus an inflationary figure that varies by region across California. In the first years that the law was in effect, the total allowable increase hovered between 5.7% and 9%. (It’s been 8.6% in Los Angeles this year and 8.8% in the Bay Area, to give two examples.)

But beginning next month, because inflation is so high, every region in the state meets the requirement for the cap to be set at a 10% rent increase.

For Shanti Singh, a spokesperson for statewide renter advocacy group Tenants Together, the high allowable rent hike adds another layer of concern for renters who have struggled with health and economic problems during the pandemic, including their own inflation pressures. An estimated 1.5 million California households were behind on rent per a U.S. Census Bureau survey released Wednesday.

“A 10% rent increase can make a huge difference in a family’s economic stability,” Singh said.

But Dan Yukelson, head of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, said landlords are facing rising prices for maintenance and appliances and continue to deal with many state and local policies that have discouraged other rent hikes and evictions during the pandemic.

“Owners are really hurting right now,” Yukelson said. “They’re experiencing very large cost increases.”

Here’s the fine print. The 10% allowable rent increase applies only to apartment complexes that were built before 2007 and not otherwise subject to local rent control rules. Indeed, in the 22 local jurisdictions that have rent control — Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose among them — allowable rent increases are much smaller for apartments covered by those laws. (Tenants Together has put together a list of cities with rent control that you can find here.)

In the city of Los Angeles, for instance, apartments built before October 1978 — nearly three-quarters of the city’s rental stock — fall under rent control. Through regulations that began at the beginning of the pandemic, landlords aren’t allowed to increase rent for existing tenants in those units at all.

If you live in an apartment in California built after 2007, you might qualify for anti-price gouging regulations that limit rent hikes also to no more than 10% within a year during declared states of emergencies. You should contact your city to see if these rules apply to you.

Still confused? A few months ago, I put together a guide on finding what protections against rent increases and evictions you qualify for if you live in Los Angeles.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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L.A. STORIES

A woman on a terrace
Dawn Hudson on the Dolby Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Dawn Hudson, who led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 11 years before stepping down this month, has left a complicated legacy. Many controversies have enveloped the Oscars during her tenure, including this year’s on-air slap by actor Will Smith. Los Angeles Times

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

The likely Democratic candidate for president if Joe Biden doesn’t run? It’s still Vice President Kamala Harris, says columnist Mark Z. Barabak. Los Angeles Times

Get ready to tack 10 cents more on to your wine and liquor purchases. Under a proposal winding its way through Sacramento, lawmakers could add wine and liquor bottles to the state’s bottle-deposit recycling program. Make sure to return the bottles to get the money back. San Francisco Chronicle

California is making a $4-billion bet that expanding the role of schools in high-poverty areas into neighborhood centers with healthcare and other social services will improve academic performance. Los Angeles Times

CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING

Los Angeles police shot and wounded a man who advanced on them with a knife last July. Then an LAPD helicopter arrived on the scene in the Pico-Union neighborhood and hampered communication between officers, according to a recent report to the city’s Police Commission. Ultimately, in the confusion, another officer fatally shot the man. Los Angeles Times

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

A new USC study found that nearly a quarter of those infected by COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic were still experiencing symptoms up to three months later. The study sheds light on the phenomenon known as “long COVID”. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

People on crowded escalators.
On opening day for Comic-Con International in 2019, fans pack the escalators leading toward the main convention floor.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Comic-Con, the annual entertainment conventionpalooza, is set to begin in San Diego. But workers at one of the city’s marquee hotels have started a strike to protest working conditions. San Diego Union-Tribune

Surfers in Newport Beach have been enjoying the summer’s largest waves this week. Fifteen-foot waves at what’s known as the Wedge have been exciting crowds as well. Orange County Register

The hot new amenity for multimillion-dollar luxury homes in California? Landscaping goats. Sacramento Bee

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: 84, nice. San Diego: 74, partly cloudy. San Francisco: 65, partly cloudy. San Jose: 83, sunny. Fresno: 106, very hot. Sacramento: 102, a scorcher.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Raymond Wood:

In summer 1941, moving cross-country from Indiana to California on U.S. 66 in a 1941 Chevy while pulling a stake-side trailer with all our belongings was no fun for a 7-year-old. That is until the Pomona Valley, where there was mile after mile of orange trees and roadside stands with signs: “Fresh-Squeezed Orange Juice. All You Can Drink. 5 Cents.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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