Can your landlord evict you without notice? Are you liable to pay higher rent because of a price hike? All these questions and more come under the purview of renter’s rights. So, whether you’re a seasoned renter or a newbie living in the city of dreams, let’s refresh the basics of the tenant-landlord relationship in Los Angeles. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 6 most important renter’s rights in Los Angeles to empower you as a renter!
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What Are Renter’s Rights?
Broadly speaking, renter’s rights are government protected laws to ensure that tenants always have access to a safe, clean, and hazard-free home. However, renter’s rights vary according where you live, which is where we come in. Below, you’ll learn about living in LA and renter’s rights.
Roomi’s Guide to 6 Important Renter’s Rights In Los Angeles
Homeownership in LA is expensive, which is probably why almost 60% of the people living in LA are renters. While you can’t drill holes in your rental home to hang up your favorite posters, there are crucial renter’s rights that you should know to protect yourself against rent hikes and hazardous homes.
1. Clean and Safe Housing
Tenants have a right to clean, livable housing, and landlords are required to maintain livable units. This implies that doors and windows must be in working order and there must be hot and cold water. Furthermore, the roof and walls should keep out water. Additionally, no vermin should run free in the building or unit. Basically, “tenants have a right not to live in slum housing,” as stated by the Housing Rights Center.
2. Can Your Landlord Visit Without Permission?
Absolutely not – unless it’s an emergency, in which case they don’t need to give you notice. For example, if there is a fire or flood, the landlord can enter without letting you know first.
However, as per the renter’s rights in Los Angeles, all non-emergent landlord visits must be duly informed 24-hour prior to visitation. Furthermore, the landlord can come only during normal business hours. During outside hours, they are supposed to let you know in advance that they will be coming for repairs or showings.
3. Rent Hikes and Living in LA
Can your landlord raise your rent? If yes, how often? The rise in rent depends on local laws and ordinances as well as if you live in a rent-controlled home or a non-rent-controlled unit.
- Rent-controlled housing allows only one annual rent increase. As of July 2021, the percentage increase rate is 5% for Los Angeles County.
- For non-rent-controlled housing, which is 15-years-old or older, landlords can’t raise the rent more than twice in a year. Moreover, they can’t raise the rent by more than a total of 5 percent, in addition to the Consumer Price Index rate for your metro area (it’s 3.3 percent for LA and Long Beach).
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4. Evictions and Renter’s Rights in Los Angeles
Following the same trend as above, rent-controlled housing offers more protection to tenants, especially when it comes to no-fault evictions. Essentially, if the rental property is damaged in any way that wasn’t the tenant’s fault, the renter’s rights in Los Angeles will protect you from being evicted unlawfully.
- So, what can you be evicted for in a rent-controlled housing unit? There are a limited number of reasons including but not restricted to – failure to pay rent, violation of lease agreement, using the rental unit for illegal activities and so on. The full list as mandated by the LAHD is here.
- Do the same rules apply to non-rent-controlled housing? Unfortunately, if you don’t live in a rent-controlled housing unit, there are fewer restrictions on evictions. However, tenant protection in LA is offered through the state’s new rent-cap law that demands that a landlord must give just cause for eviction.
Read more about rent capping and just causes for eviction here. In a nutshell, if your landlord fails to come up with a just cause for your eviction, the best step forward is communicating openly with your landlord, and if necessary, taking your landlord to court.
5. Low Income Renters Living in LA
As of January 2020, tenant rights in Los Angeles demand that landlords be equally welcoming of renters who use Section 8 vouchers. It’s now illegal for landlords to deny renters access to their housing units just because low-income renters pay their rent with the aid of federal programs. This particular section of renter’s rights in Los Angeles is an important step forward to ensure that low-income tenants find safe housing to help them keep out of homelessness.
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6. I Have a Problem and My Landlord is Unresponsive
Let’s say you have a leaky pipe or a broken window that wasn’t your fault, and your landlord isn’t coming around to fix your problem. In this case, what can you do?
You can escalate your request in 3 steps:
- First, if there is a problem and your landlord is unresponsive, try to communicate with them verbally. This way you can find out if the matter can be sorted internally.
- However, if your landlord still hasn’t come around to address your concerns, start a paper trail. What does this mean? A dated letter detailing the issue, timestamped pictures of the problem, and other documentation that could later be used, if needed, to show that your landlord was aware of the issue.
- Lastly, if the above steps don’t work, you can report a code violation to the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID). This falls well within your renter’s rights in Los Angeles.
Renter’s Rights in Los Angeles: In Conclusion
While it’s important to maintain the upkeep of your rental housing, it’s equally important to be armed with knowledge of your renter’s rights while living in LA. If you’re suddenly the victim of a no-fault eviction or an enormous rent hike, your information on renter’s rights will protect you from losing your home! Ready to make the move to the city of dreams?