Extreme rent control and anti-housing activists are again planning a statewide voter initiative to take down the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, California’s most important landlord protection law.  

Last week, initiative proponents filed a “Request for Preparation of Title and Summary” with the California Attorney General’s Office for the “Justice For Renters Act.” The filing is an initial step in the process of qualifying a measure for the ballot. 

The measure threatens to repeal 1995’s Costa-Hawkins Act in its entirety, allowing local governments to impose rent control on single-family homes and newer apartments. The measure also would eliminate the state’s ban on vacancy control, allowing cities and counties to regulate rents between tenancies.   

In addition to repealing Costa-Hawkins, the “Justice For Renters Act” would prohibit the state from limiting the right of local governments to maintain, enact or expand residential rent control. 

Should the measure secure the necessary signatures, it would likely appear on the November 2024 state ballot.     

It would mark the third time in recent years that supporters of radical rent control have used California’s voter initiative system to attack Costa-Hawkins. The California Apartment Association led the successful campaigns to defeat both initiatives: Proposition 21 in 2020 and Proposition 10 in 2018.  

Continued attempts to undermine or eliminate Costa-Hawkins come despite California’s passage of a statewide rent control law in 2019. The California Tenant Protection Act, passed as AB 1482, became the nation’s strongest statewide tenant protection law and caps rent increases at 5% plus the consumer price index, or a maximum of 10%, for most of California’s multifamily housing stock.