Prop. 21: Will more rent control make housing more affordable?

27 October 2020

For the second time in as many years, California voters will decide whether to give cities more leeway to regulate rentals over what’s allowed under a 26-year-old law limiting rent-control measures.

Also called the Rental Affordability Act, Proposition 21 seeks to go beyond the statewide measures that took effect at the beginning of this year to curtail rising rents. The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 caps annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation for multifamily housing built more than 15 years ago. Single-family homes of similar age and owned by corporations or other institutional investors also have such limits on rent growth.

Cities can limit rent escalation further, but the state’s 1995 Costa-Hawkins Act mostly allows that cap only on multifamily rentals built before Feb. 1 of that year. And rental single-family homes and condominiums are excluded from such limits under that law.

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