With L.A.'s fast-changing neighborhoods come fast-changing rents. That's why the city of Los Angeles is making a renewed push to make sure tenants know their rights.
City officials launched a campaign this week to spread information about the rights that renters have under the city's rent stabilization ordinance, first passed in the 1970s. The move is part of Mayor Eric Garcetti's push to grow the city's housing supply in an equitable way, said Ben Winter, housing policy specialist for the mayor's office.
The rent stabilization ordinance limits the amount a landlord can raise rent each year and specifies the conditions under which landlords can legally evict tenants.
More than 600,000 units in L.A. are rent stabilized, according to the city's estimates. "Unfortunately, we've done research and found that only a third of families that live under these protections — which is about one in two families in the city — know they're actually protected," Winter told KPCC.
How well do you know your rights as a tenant? Take our quiz below, and (SPOILER ALERT!) scroll down to find explanations of the answers from the city's rent stabilization ordinance.
You can find the city's explainers of the rent stabilization ordinance on the "Home for Renters" website. Here's what the ordinance says about all of the scenarios above:
1. You live in an apartment complex that was built in 1965. Is your apartment rent stabilized?
Answer: Yes, probably!
The rent stabilization ordinance generally applies to buildings that were built on or before Oct. 1, 1978, which amounts to about 624,000 units across Los Angeles.
There are a few exceptions. According to the tenant's rights handbook from "Home for Renters," you are not covered by the rent stabilization ordinance if:
- You live in a single-family home (that is the only residential structure on the parcel)
- You live in affordable housing or luxury housing units exempted by HCIDLA
- The rental unit was built after Oct. 1, 1978 (in most instances)
- You live in hotel or motel rooms that were occupied for less than 30 days
- You rent a unit in a converted commercial building that converted to rental units after Oct. 1, 1978
You can check the city's property search tool to see if your building is rent stabilized.
2. You live in a rent-stabilized building. You currently pay $1,800 in rent, and your landlord pays for gas. The rent was last raised a year ago. Suddenly, your landlord raises your rent to $1,900, effective after 30 days. Is this legal?
According to the rent stabilization ordinance, rents can be raised up to 3 percent, plus 1 percent for gas or electricity if the landlord pays for these costs. A $100 increase amounts to more than 5 percent of the original rent.
Generally, the landlord can only increase your rent once every 12 months, and must give you a written 30-day notice before collecting the new amount.
3. You moved into your $2,000-a-month rent-stabilized apartment building in 2012, which came with a shared laundry room. Your landlord informs you that they are removing the laundry services from the building and that you will have to use the laundromat across the street instead. Your rent stays at $2,000 a month. Is this legal?
According to the RSO, if any amenities that were part of your housing service at the beginning of your tenancy have been removed, the landlord should adjust your rent down as compensation
4. Your lease states that you may not have a pet in your apartment. You have been keeping a dog in your apartment for the past three months. Your landlord notices the dog one day and issues you an eviction notice on the spot for violating the lease terms. Is this legal?
Under the ordinance, a landlord may evict you for violating terms of the lease, but they must give you written notice with a period of time offered to correct the violation. The ordinance specifically addresses issues like keeping pets, according to the guide:
In situations where some other obligation has been breached, e.g., keeping pets, the landlord must specify the fault and permit its correction within three days.
5. Your landlord informs you one day that you will be evicted in three months so that their mother can move into your unit instead. Is this legal?
Evicting tenants for a family member is one of the six no-fault evictions that are permitted by the city's ordinance. However, tenants who are given no-fault evictions may also be entitled to relocation assistance.
6. You just snagged a rent-stabilized apartment unit and signed the lease. Your landlord tells you they'll only accept rent payments and your security deposit through PayPal, and no other method. Is this legal?
The ordinance states that tenants are not required to pay rent or fees solely through the Internet or electronic transfers.
7. You're two weeks late on your rent payment. You receive a notice from your landlord saying that you have three days to pay the full amount of your rent, or you will be evicted. Is this legal?
According to the handbook:
If the tenant has failed to pay the rent on time or is short in any amount, the landlord must serve the tenant a written three-day notice to pay rent or quit the premises. This notice must state precisely the premises in question and the amount of rent due. The notice must present an unequivocal alternative to the tenant, i.e., pay rent within three days or leave.
The law also states that the three-day notice must include:
1. The amount which is due;
2. The name, telephone number and the address of the person to whom payment is due;
3. If payment can be made in person, then the usual days and hours that the payment can be made."
8. Your landlord serves you a 30-day eviction notice because they are selling the building to another owner. Is this legal?
According to the ordinance, landlords can't evict tenants to sell the building to another owner.
Find out more information about the rent stabilization ordinance, including rights for both tenants and landlords, at the "Home for Renters" website.