California Rent Increase Laws

Last Updated: December 29, 2022 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Reason Needed No
Max / Limit 5% + CPI or 10%, Whichever is Lower
Notice Requirement 30 or 90 Days

Does California Have Rent Control?

Yes, California has rent control at a state level limiting rent increases. Additionally, many cities in California have their own rent control laws.

Most major cities in California have rent control ordinances that add additional protections to tenants beyond the state laws including:

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Some local jurisdictions in California still have pandemic-related moratoriums in effect that prohibit any amount of rent increase for housing that is not exempt from rent control, such as West Hollywood and Los Angeles. Check your local laws to determine if any emergency declaration applies to your area.

The following rental units are exempt from state rent control laws:

  • Housing restricted in use for low to moderate-income individuals
  • Some school housing
  • Housing built within the past 15 years, excluding mobile homes
  • A single-family residence not owned by an LLC in which one of the members is a corporation, REIT, or corporation, and in which the landlord has provided written notice of the exemption
  • A duplex where the owner resides in one of the units as their primary residence

Occasionally, a city’s rent stabilization ordinance conflicts with the state rent control laws. If a city’s rent control law conflicts with state law, the city law will prevail if it was enacted prior to September 1, 2019 and/or the law offers greater protection to tenants.

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Some cities provide resources to understand local rent control and determine if your residence is protected by rent control. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you can check to see if your home is protected by city rent control laws. Enter your address in the city’s parcel map and look under the Housing tab.

How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent By in California?

California law limits rent increases to 5% plus the annual rate of inflation or 10%, whichever is lower.

The rate of inflation is otherwise known as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). State law uses the regional CPI to calculate rent increases if you are located in the following counties:

If you are not located in one of these counties, the California CPI published by the Department of Industrial Relations is used for calculating the maximum rent increase. You can find this information on their chart under the column for California.

California state rent control laws only apply to a rent increase for an existing tenant, so landlords can raise the rent by any amount when entering into a new lease agreement where no previous tenants remain. Furthermore, state law currently prevents local jurisdictions from enacting “vacancy control” which is a limit on the maximum allowable rent increase for new tenants.

When Can a Landlord Raise Rent in California?

In California, landlords can raise rent for any reason when proper notice is given unless the increase is discriminatory or retaliatory.

When Can’t a Landlord Raise Rent in California?

In California, landlords cannot raise rent during the middle of a lease’s fixed term, for certain discriminatory reasons (like race or age) or for certain retaliatory reasons (such as in response to a tenant complaining about bed bugs).

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination due to:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Gender (including gender identity)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Nationality or origin
  • Familial status
  • Disability

In addition to the characteristics above, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act also prohibits discrimination due to:

  • Medical condition
  • Primary language
  • Immigration status
  • Physical appearance
  • Source of income
  • Veteran or military status

California law prevents landlords from increasing rent in retaliation. An action is considered retaliatory if it occurs within 180 days of a tenant action. Rent increases are considered retaliatory if in response to a tenant:

  • Filing a complaint with the appropriate agency regarding the property’s health or safety
  • Complaining to the landlord regarding the habitability of the property
  • Joining or organizing a tenants’ group or union
  • Exercising their right as a tenant under the law

How Much Notice is Needed to Raise Rent in California?

Landlords must typically give 30 days’ notice when increasing rent. If the landlord proposes to raise the rent by more than 10%, they must give 90 days’ notice.

Landlords in California cannot increase rent during a lease term unless the lease agreement specifically allows rent increases.

How Often Can Rent Be Increased in California?

By state law, landlords in California can only increase the rent twice every 12 months and as long as they provide sufficient notice and don’t do so during the lease term. If the rent is increased twice within 12 months, the total amount of rent increase cannot exceed the annual limit.

Some city rent control ordinances have different increments for increasing rent, like Oakland and East Palo Alto, which only permit one rent increase per year unless the unit is exempt from rent control.

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