Burt Polson

Burt Polson

Governor Gavin Newsom met with apartment property owners and developers in August to present on a new bill, Assembly Bill 1482, by Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco.

The new rent control bill would be the most stringent in the country, placing a cap of 5 percent plus inflation for a maximum of 10 percent on annual increases to residential renters.

We are still under a rent moratorium

Many are unaware that Mendocino, Napa, Santa Barbara, Shasta and Sonoma counties are still under an executive order from the governor’s office for price gouging during times of disaster.

California faced unprecedented wildfires in 2017 and 2018, which caused widespread devastation. Then-Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order making it unlawful to substantially increase the price of goods as well as rents.

The executive order was renewed in November 2018 by Governor Brown and again in 2019 by Governor Newsom.

The anti-gouging law, now permanently on the books (Penal Code Section 396), makes it unlawful to increase rents more than 10 percent during an emergency declared by the president, governor or local officials.

The current executive order expires on Dec. 31.

Helping renters

The bill has gone through several revisions; the previous was at a higher cap of 7 percent.

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With the new version passing the scrutiny of major property owners and developers as well as the California Apartment Association all that left is to pass the state legislature, which must occur by Sept. 13 before the State’s Assembly and Senate start recess.

The bill would cap annual increases at 5 percent, plus inflation, which is derived from the Consumer Price Index and is location dependent.

The bill would apply only to buildings 15 years old or older, which should keep developers motivated to continue building, and includes multi-family properties as well as single-family houses that are owned by corporations.

Also, included in the bill are certain “just cause” protections for evictions.

Hurting landlords

Many landlords and property managers find themselves caught in a quagmire of new laws for the protection of renters, though important, consideration should also be given to the landlord.

Locations throughout California where unprecedented housing costs have caused many renters to move out of the area or worse become homeless will see the most impact on both sides.

Restricting one side of the financial equation in the way of rent values of residential real estate may have an unforeseen impact on the quality and quantity of housing as well as the eventual moving away to more lucrative real estate investments by the investor.

I am professionally involved in two scenarios where rent control has had a substantial impact on investors. An investment group found themselves under rent control enacted by the city council in Vallejo after they purchased apartment buildings based on future rents.

The second is with a seller of a portfolio of small multi-family properties in Napa. The seller priced the properties based on future rents being that all are substantially below market. The seller now must consider reducing the price 15 percent or more based on the new bill.

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Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is an active commercial real estate broker. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or burt@acresinfo.com.