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Allowable Rent Increases Under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Act (RSO)

Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Landlord-Tenant Attorney
Written: October 2012 - Last Updated: April 2021

Under California law a landlord cannot raise your rent during your initial lease term, absent a lease provision to the contrary. If you do not have a lease, or if you are on a month-to-month, then the landlord can increase the rent so long as s/he provides the tenant proper written notice. Under California law, the landlord must provide a tenant with at least 30 days' advance written notice of a rent increase if the rent increase is 10 percent (or less) of the rent charged at any time during the 12 months before the rent increase takes effect. (35 days if the notice is served by mail). If the landlord is increasing the rent more than 10% in a 12-month period, then pursuant to California Civil Code 827, the landlord must give the tenant at least 90 days prior written notice (95 days if the notice is mailed). In rent controlled cities, like Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood additional rules apply.

Pursuant to the newly enacted California Tenant Protections and Relief Act - Sept 2019, annual rental increases for all multi-unit dwellings built more than 15 years ago (presently before April 2006) are capped at 5% plus the regional consumer price index for the rate of inflation (presently 2.2% for March 2021). The Act further prohibits an owner of residential multi-unit dwelling built before April of 2006 from increasing the rent more than 2 times in any 12-month period. For more information, please click here.

Allowable Rent Increases Under the Los Angeles RSO for Rent Controlled Units

The Los Angeles RSO addresses allowable rent increases which can range from 3% to 8%, the registration of rental units, legal reasons for eviction, and the causes for eviction requiring relocation assistance payment to the tenant. Under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO ), the landlord is allowed to make the following annual increases in the rent:

  1. Raise the rent once every 12 months by the annual allowable increase (Was 4% for July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, but all rent increases have been halted due to Covid 19 through June 30, 2022).
  2. If the landlord pays for all of the costs of gas and/or electricity supplied to a tenant's unit, the landlord may raise the rent by an additional one percent (1%) for each of the two utilities supplied.
  3. At the same time the landlord raises the rent, if the written lease so provides, the landlord may also raise the security deposit (and last month's rent if applicable) once every 12 months by the annual allowable percentage increase (presently 4% for 7/1/2019-6/30/2020).

Four Special Circumstances Which Allow the Landlord to Raise the Rent Substantially.

  1. Additional Tenant. The Landlord can raise the rent by ten percent (10%) for each additional tenant / occupant of a rental unit exceeding the number of initial occupants allowed in the original rental agreement, EXCEPT THAT If the landlord had actual or constructive knowledge of the additional tenant's occupancy for more than 60 days and failed to provide the tenant with a 30 Day Notice of the rent increase, then the landlord forfeits the right to increase the rent per Ordinance No. 181744, effective July 1, 2011. A corresponding reduction in rent is required when the additional tenant vacates the unit. Security deposits may be raised for additional tenants by the same dollar amount as the rent is raised.
  2. There Has Been No Rental Increase Since May 1976. The Landlord can raise the rent nineteen percent (19%), plus 2% if the landlord provides the gas and electricity, If a landlord has not increased the rent since May 31, 1976.
  3. There Has Been No Rental Increase Since May 1977. The Landlord can raise the rent thirteen percent (13%), plus 2% if the landlord provides the gas and electricity, If a landlord has not increased the rent since May 31, 1977.
  4. Landlord Makes Capital Improvements. A landlord who is planning to improve his rental, may apply for special rent increases based on an application for Primary Renovation, Capital Improvements, Rehabilitation, or a "Just and Reasonable" rent adjustment which must be submitted to and approved by the Rental Board.

Notice Required Under the RSO.

To raise the rent, the landlord must serve the tenant(s) with a written 30-day notice for rent increases that are 10% or less of the tenant's rent (35 days if the notice is mailed), or a 90-day notice (95 days if mailed) for rent increases that exceed 10% of the tenant's lowest rent within the preceding 12-month period.

Additional Costs a Landlord is Allowed to Pass Through to a Tenant:

1. Each month the landlord may collect an additional $1.61 from each tenant (50% of the annual $38.75 registration fee paid to the Rent Stabilization Division). Previously the landlord was required to collect half of the registration's fees only in the month of August.

2. The landlord may also collect the annual $43.32 Systematic Code Enforcement Program (SCEP) fee if paid in full by the landlord by increasing the rent $3.61 per month. To collect this monthly fee from the tenant, the owner must similarly give the tenant a written thirty (30) Day Notice of Rent Increase prior to the collection of this fee once a year and provide the tenant a copy of the Registration Certificate.

After a Vacancy

The allowable rent level after a vacancy depends on the reason for the vacancy. The RSO provides that the rent may be raised to any amount upon re-rental if the vacancy resulted because the tenant: (1) voluntarily vacated the unit; (2) was evicted for non-payment of legal rent; or (3) was evicted for violating the terms of the rental agreement and failing to cure the violation. If the vacancy occurs for any other reason, the Los Angeles RSO requires the rent to a new tenant to remain the same as that for the prior tenant. Examples include: (1) an eviction to recover the unit for the use of the landlord, his immediate family. or a resident manager; (2) an eviction based on the prior tenant's illegal acts; (2) an eviction based on the tenant's refusal to sign a new lease with the same terms as are in the RSO; and (3) an eviction based on the tenant's refusal to allow the landlord reasonable access to the unit.

Have some questions? You can schedule a same day low cost 30 minute telephone consultation with Ms. Marsh, a California attorney with 25+ years experience, and Ms. Marsh will contact you at the time you select. Please note that at least 30 minutes is required for Ms. Marsh to properly review your options pertaining to any landlord tenant matter due to the interplay of local, county, and state laws.

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.