City of Los Angeles District 4 councilmember Nithya Raman listens to a public comment during a city council meeting at City Hall in Los Angeles on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)
When restrictions on landlords raising the rent enacted during the COVID pandemic are scheduled to be lifted, rent-control groups claim the result will be “catastrophic” for tenants. Odd, isn’t it, how they never consider the other side of that coin?
Because in the city of Los Angeles, in a time of high inflation, it’s certainly catastrophic for people who make their living creating housing and renting it out not to be able to grow the income their businesses make because of emergency regulations first adopted years ago to cover a public health emergency that no longer exists. It’s been over three years since housing providers have been able to adjust what they charge. Imagine if such a restriction were placed on your own business.
That may be changing, allowing apartment owners a proper return on their investment and the ability to maintain their properties for the benefit of tenants. As Julia Wick reports in the Los Angeles Times, “Come February, landlords will be able to raise the rent on many tenants for the first time since the emergency protections went into effect in early 2020.”
After those years of severe controls, owners would finally be able to raise the rent by 7%, or 9% if they pay the utilities.
Watch out, though: Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez introduced a proposal to freeze rents on apartments in the city for another six months to allow time for a study on just how much of a rent increase should be allowed.
Another half a year in which housing owners would be getting the economic shaft.
More council machinations were scheduled for this week at the committee level, including a proposal to instead allow rent increases of just 4% — 6% if utilities are included — come February.
It’s painfully clear to all Angelenos that these discussions come at a time during which the homelessness crisis shows no sign of abating, and that families who live paycheck-to-paycheck are forever on the verge of becoming homeless themselves.
But driving owners of rental housing out of business is no solution. Good on Councilmembers John Lee and Monica Rodriguez for arguing that landlords can’t be expected to shoulder all of the burden as Los Angeles, we hope, begins to build its way out of its massive housing supply problem.