California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a moratorium on evictions of people affected by COVID-19 in mid-April, but many remain confused regarding whether landlords can raise rent during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Many renters have complained that their landlords notified them their rent was increasing, something that they thought was temporarily prohibited, but according to Telemundo 52 Responds, the answer is not so simple.
Although California has imposed a moratorium on evictions to protect those affected by COVID-19 and many cities have put temporary rent freezes, many more cities have not, confusing some renters.
For example, Maria Pineda, a resident of Stanton in Orange County, received a letter informing her that her rent would increase on June 1, as did Aurora Quiroga of Los Angeles County. Both contacted Telemundo 52 Responds to find out if the rent increases are legal.
"It depends on where the tenant lives. In the state of California, there are cities with rent control and others without it, where state law protects some units. To know, we have to know the address, and there are also special laws in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis that protect some cities and not others," said Elena Popp, Executive Director of the Eviction Defense Network.
For example, in the city of Los Angeles, rent increases were ordered in the 624,000 apartment units that have stabilized rent, which normally cannot increase more than 4% per year. This measure will be in effect until 60 days after the emergency order is lifted.
In unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, rent increases on multi-family buildings that received permission to be leased prior to February 1995 were also frozen.
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In Orange County, only the city of Santa Ana froze rent increases, until at least May 31.
But there is one caveat: even if your rent is increased and you can't pay, they can't evict you.
"All tenants in the state right now are protected by a no-eviction order for 90 days after the governor removes the state of emergency," Popp added.
If you are not sure if your landlord is working correctly, you can call 213-537-5473 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions.
Remember, however, that California law prohibits rent from being raised more than 8% in a year, and in most cases, no law enforcement agency is currently executing evictions.