What is Rent Control?

“Rent control” is a phrase used for laws that protect renters by limiting how much landlords can charge for rent.

Types of Rent Control

Every city has a different rent-control ordinance, so it is important to check your local rent-control ordinances or consult an attorney for guidance.

Typically, some rent-control ordinances allow a landlord to evict the tenant only for “just cause” where the landlord must state or prove a valid reason for terminating a month-to-month tenancy. Not all cities have this requirement.

Some cities have boards that may approve or deny increases in rent. Other cities limit the percentage that rent may increase each year.

All cities have vacancy decontrol which means that a landlord can re-rent a unit at the market rate when the tenant moves out voluntarily or when the landlord terminates the tenancy for nonpayment of rent.

Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act

The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 is a California state law which places limits on rent control ordinances. Costa-Hawkins prohibits cities from establishing rent control over certain kinds of residential units such as single family dwellings and condominiums and even new apartment units. It also prohibits municipal “vacancy control” which denies or limits a landlord’s ability to increase rent to new tenants. This means that a landlord may rent a now vacated, previously rent-controlled unit, at any price.

Rent control in California varies from city to city. Some California cities have rent control ordinances that limit or prohibit rent increases. Rent control ordinances typically specify special procedures that must be followed before a landlord may increase a tenant’s rent or evict the tenant.

Bay Area Cities with Rent Control Ordinances

Click on the city link below to view the city ordinance: