California lawmakers are exploring new ways to limit skyrocketing rents.
Crooning in the shower is not Chad Regeczi’s thing.
That’s why when he learned last year his monthly rent would go up $300 so the new owners of his La Mesa apartment in San Diego County could upgrade his bathroom with a sound system, he was bemused.
“300 bucks!” he said. “I mean an iPod costs less than that. Everybody has got a phone now. Who needs a Bluetooth speaker in a bathroom apartment? It’s just weird.”
Regeczi, a VA employee, said the 30 percent rent increase didn’t match the condition of his apartment. But he felt powerless to challenge his landlords on the hike.
“Who’s gonna tell them no?” he asked. “There are no rules to how much your rent can go up.”
That may change. Talk is underway about putting a law on the books that would bar California landlords from raising rent beyond a certain percentage.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in November the rule would mimic limits on what businesses can charge during natural disasters.
“When there’s a fire, you pass an anti-rent gouging ordinance,” Schaaf said. “The state has a fire. It’s called the housing crisis.”
Rents are surging in some California cities where there is no rent control by double, even triple digits, according to mayors and tenants rights advocates.
And more than half of the state’s renters pay more than a third of their income on housing, according to the California Budget & Policy Center. And a third of renters spend more than half of their paycheck on a place to live. The real estate firm Zillow reported last month that communities where people pay more than a third of their salary on rent, see a faster rise in homelessness.