SAN DIEGO — Rent could increase up to 10 percent at tenant’s next renewal because of a California law.

A law passed in 2019 kicked back into effect on Aug. 1, because the federal eviction moratorium expired July 31.

The California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, or AB1482, limits annual rent increases to no more than 5%, plus the local Consumer Price Index (the inflation rate), or 10%, whichever is lower. Since inflation is so high, a 10% rent increase is lower than 5%, plus the local inflation rate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the CPI for San Diego is more than 8%. Since the law states that the maximum increase is either 10%, or 5%, plus CPI (in this case it would be about 8% + 5% =13% rate increase), 10% is the lower percentage and currently the cap.

San Diego saw “over the last 12 months, the CPI-U rose 8.3%. Food prices jumped 12.5%. Energy prices rose 34.0%.”

“It’s actually a good thing that there is now a maximum on how high it can really go,” Mylene Merlo, a local independent real estate broker said.

“Groceries were already going up, gas was already going up, inflation and everything we were already feeling the pain already and now with this, it’s just the cherry on top,” said Amber Brewer, who is one of thousands of renters now facing a rent hike.

Her Carlsbad rent increased $240 a month, which is just shy of the 10% maximum now allowed in California.

“What am I going to do, I’m going to have cut costs somewhere, I’m going to totally have to scale back,” Brewer said. “I’m a single mother and I’m taking care of my mom who is disabled and so I’ve got to cut costs.”

During the pandemic, many landlords took a financial blow because they lost out on some rent and are now trying to make up for it, Merlo said.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 1.4 million Californians are behind on rent payments.

“San Diego has no rent control, which means that generally landlords have been able to charge however much they want,” Merlo said.

The state law protects many renters from seeing a more than 10% rent increase, but it doesn’t protect everyone.

AB 1482, or “the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019,” went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 and will expire on Jan. 1, 2030.

There are exemptions to this, including:

  • Units built within the last 15 years. This applies to whichever year it is currently. In 2022, this act would not apply to housing units built after 2007.
  • Low-income housing;
  • Certain dorms;
  • A two-unit property, such as a duplex, where the owner lives in one portion and rents out the other;
  • Single-family homes and condominiums are only exempt if the property is not owned by a real estate trust, corporation or an LLC.

If you are one of the millions of Californians behind on rent, the San Diego Housing Commission offers assistance.