Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon on Wednesday proposed a one-year ban on rent increases for rent-controlled residences.
"My motion will put a one-year hold on increases in rent to help our working families, and give the council time to consider longer-term fixes to ensure fairness in our rent control ordinance,'' Alarcon said.
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City law allows owners of rent-controlled properties -- mainly apartments built before 1978 -- to raise rents by at least 3 percent a year, with the maximum percentage equaling the U.S. Consumer Price Index.
However, in six of the last 15 years that index has been less than three percent, with the last index hovering at negative territory. Additionally, Los Angeles has a high unemployment rate, and many new renters were former homeowners who lost houses to the sub-prime mortgage debacle. More than 60 percent of Angelenos are renters, and the city has 631,000 residences under rent-control rules.
"Rent control was created to protect families, but when we're in an economic recession, families who are struggling to make ends meet can still be saddled with rent increases,'' Alarcon said.