Lead Story West Edition

Inglewood reduces rent cap to 3%

INGLEWOOD — In a move to protect longtime residents who lived here before recent sports and entertainment developments caused rents to rise, the City Council has proposed an updated rent stabilization ordinance that would lower the rent cap to 3% a year, though some exceptions would allow property owners to raise rents by 5%.

“It started with us all being against rent control,” City Councilman Eloy Morales Jr. said. 

However, the idea of rent control began swirling in the community in 2015 soon after officials announced the Los Angeles Rams would be building a billion dollar stadium at Hollywood Park, across the street from the Forum.

Meanwhile, news of the Los Angeles Clippers proposal to build a basketball and entertainment complex across the street from the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District has presumably spiked interest and property values even further.

“[We are] in the midst of an economic renaissance that we want all of our residents to participate in,” said Mayor James T. Butts Jr., who is championing the rebirth of Inglewood as one of the premiere sports and entertainment destinations in the world. 

Butts re-introduced the rent stabilization ordinance at the Oct. 29 City Council meeting. It could be the permanent ordinance that ties up the 5% emergency rent control moratorium that has been in place in Inglewood since March.

Under the ordinance, rent increases will be limited to once in a 12-month period for apartment buildings that were built before Feb 1, 1995.

Rent increases will be capped at 3%, or the consumer price index, whichever is greater. 

However, there is an exemption for rent increases of 5%, if the units are being rented for less than 80% of the fair market value, which would be less than $1,214 for a one bedroom and less than $1,565 for a two-bedroom apartment. 

Rent can also be raised by more than 3% if property owners have made more than $10,000 worth of capital improvements.

Single-family homes, condos, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes are exempt from the 3% rent cap.

Several property owners and realtors spoke in opposition to the ordinance, believing it will have an adverse impact by stifling rising property values. 

“There is no perfect ordinance,” Morales said before explaining the initiative is an attempt at smart government. 

The emergency moratorium will remain in effect until the permanent rent control ordinance is approved and goes into effect, in December at the earliest.

Before rent control curbed rising rents, community activists believed city officials were not doing enough to protect longtime residents who lived through the downfall of Inglewood but stuck with the city because of its sense of culture and community. 

“People are facing homelessness as a result of [rising rents],” said Tiffany Wallace, a member of the Inglewood Tenants Union. “I do think that 3% is an improvement. I think that’s better. We suggested that it be 2% because people are already dealing with the raised rents that they’ve already gotten.”

The updated ordinance would also provide a “just-cause evictions” policy that protects renters from receiving 60-day eviction notices and relocation assistance in certain cases.

The proposal also includes a rental housing board that will oversee enforcement for just-cause eviction protection. At this time, the rental housing board will be appointed by the City Council, although community activists are continuing to push for an elected rental board that represents the more than 60% of Inglewood residents who are renters. 

“I think that’s something we really need to consider. Those are some of the most vulnerable residents in the city,” said Jelani Hendrix, who is a member of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition.

If approved, Inglewood’s 3% rent control ordinance would remain in effect for five years and then California’s state law of 5% rent control would take effect in Inglewood.