California’s cornerstone rental housing protection law, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, is in jeopardy as a bill proposing to broaden local rent control measures edges towards a full Senate vote.

The anti-housing proposal could deter the development of new rental units by allowing local governments to enforce stricter rent controls on newer properties. The California Apartment Association is rallying its members and other rental housing providers to voice opposition.

Rent control
Sen. Aisha Wahab

SB 466 by Sen. Aisha Wahab, D-Hayward, proposes to modify the Costa-Hawkins Act, which currently restricts local rent control measures in the state. The Costa-Hawkins Act exempts buildings constructed post-1995, single-family homes, and condominiums from local rent control, and it permits landlords to adjust rents to market rates when a unit is vacated.

What does SB 466 propose for the Costa-Hawkins Act?

SB 466 seeks to dismantle Costa-Hawkins’ provision for newer housing. It would do so by removing the act’s ban on local rent controls for housing built after 1995 and would instead establish a 15-year rolling date, meaning housing would be brought under strict, local rent control once it reached 15 years old.  In a recent committee hearing, the author, however, agreed to a longer rolling date.

In the same hearing, Wahab agreed to maintain Costa-Hawkins’ prohibition on local rent controls for single-family homes and condominiums. Despite these amendments, the California Apartment Association remains firmly opposed to the bill.

What’s at stake for the rental housing industry?

Apartment owners and builders have long counted on post-1995 properties being exempt from local rent control. The proposed rolling date disrupts this decades-old certainty, potentially chilling new development. Individuals who recently bought late 1990s or 2000s apartments, expecting perpetual exemption, may find this change particularly unsettling.

Debra Carlton, CAA’s executive vice president for state public affairs, encouraged members and supporters to express their concerns by emailing their senators or calling their offices.

“Your letters, phone calls, and advocacy are critical,” Carlton said. “Your continued opposition can help state legislators understand the potential harm this bill could inflict on the rental housing industry.”

The Senate could vote on SB 466 at any time, underscoring the urgency for opponents to act. CAA maintains that if passed, the bill would exacerbate California’s housing crisis.

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