Rent Control

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The Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance was a voter approved initiative first adopted in 1980. The Desert Political Action Committee formed the major impetus in getting the ordinance on the April 1980 ballot and promoting its adoption. The current version of the ordinance limits rents to seventy-five percent (75%) of the increase in the consumer price index and requires landlords to reduce rents if they reduce “base year” services (the base year is defined as 1979). The ordinance also limits the number of rent increases to one per year. The ordinance guarantees landlords, under the provision of filing a petition for hardship increase with the Rent Review Commission, a fair return on their investment. Simply put, whatever the net operating income was in 1979, the landlord is entitled to make fifty percent (50%) more today.

A second Initiative (Measure H) (also promoted by the Desert Political Action Committee) passed in 1990, added the following additional provisions:

1. Landlords required to annually register and pay fees;
2. Rent increases prohibited when property is not registered;
3. Increased tenants' damages when property is in violation of the ordinance;
4. “Waivers” (waiving tenant’s rights under rent control) no longer valid;
5. Mobile home park owners required to pay relocation costs in the event eviction is the result of an owner undertaking a change of use; and
6. Landlord’s expenses previously allowed in filing petitions for hardship rent increases changed. 

A third Initiative (Measure KK) promoted by local Landlords and Realtors passed December 17, 1994, added provision as follows:

1. Vacancy Decontrol on all units except those in mobile home parks; and
2. Eviction Control.
3. Residents of apartments who still live in the unit since 1994 remain under Rent Control.

                                 EXEMPTIONS UNDER THE RENT CONTROL ORDINANCE

1. Units built after April 1979;
2. Those which rented for more than $450 in 1979;
3. Units owned or subsidized by a governmental agency;
4. Hotels;
5. Buildings consisting of four units or less containing one unit occupied by the Owner as his/her primary residence; and
6. Although the ordinance does not specifically cover units on Indian Land, the Indians claim their sovereignty rights and exempt themselves. 

AMENDING THE ORDINANCE

The ordinance can be changed: 

1. By Council Resolution if the change does NOT diminish tenants’ rights, and
2. By ballot if the change DOES diminish tenants’ rights. 

WHAT RENT CONTROL IS NOT

1. The Palm Springs Rent Control Ordinance does not guarantee minimal rental increases.  

A. There are many residential rental units within the City of Palm Springs that are not charging the maximum rent permitted under the City’s ordinance. In reality, the ordinance allows owners to charge almost 85% more today than what they were charging in 1979 – when the market only permits, perhaps, 50% more today. Unfortunately, when tenants have moved into an apartment, lacking an understanding of the local ordinance, they generally have not asked the landlord to inform them of the “maximum rent permitted under the ordinance.” Unfortunately, if the market were to turn around, most rents subject to rent control could be increased as much as $100 (and in some instances even more) per month. 

B. When landlords file petitions for hardship rent increases, and they demonstrate to the Rent Review Commission that they are entitled to increase their rents because they are not making a “fair return” (as defined by the ordinance), they will be granted increases.  

2. The Rent Control Ordinance does not deal with habitability issues. Calls are received by the Rent Control Division which deal with health, and even safety, and are outside the jurisdiction of the Rent Control Ordinance. Other agencies, such as the Health Department and Code Enforcement, have jurisdiction over these issues and the calls are directed by staff to those agencies. 
3. The Rent Control Ordinance does not deal with discrimination. Tenants are not able to rely on the City’s ordinance when a landlord demonstrates some form of discrimination. Tenants are referred to the Fair Housing Office in order for their complaint to be processed.

For more information please call 760-323-8264.

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