With California’s new rent control law having gone into effect this month, the Citizen visited two Elk Grove apartment complexes this week.
Through Assembly Bill 1482, annual rent increases cannot exceed 5%, plus the local rate of inflation. The state’s inflation average is about 2.5%.
However, this law does not pertain to rental housing that was constructed within the last 15 years. Using a rolling date, new housing will be covered for 15 years from the time it was built.
Assembly Member David Chiu, D-San Francisco, designed the bill to prevent “rent gouging” across the state.
The same bill – aka Tenant Protection Act of 2019 – also provides “just cause” protection for renters who have been in place for a year or more. That law prevents landlords from removing such tenants for the purpose of raising the cost of rents.
Edmund Jenkins, property manager of the Whispering Oaks Apartments on Elk Grove-Florin Road, said that although he does not care for new restrictions, he also understands the need to assist tenants.
“I care about the tenants at my complex, and what they’re going through,” he said.
Jenkins mentioned that the new law does not negatively affect Whispering Oaks.
“Our increases have been more in the 2 to 4% range on an annual basis,” he said.
Whispering Oaks currently rents one-bedroom apartments for $1,075 per month and two-bedroom apartments for $1,275 per month, and seldom has vacancies.
In regard to the law pertaining to evicting tenants without cause, Jenkins expressed little concern.
“From a landlord’s perspective, yeah, you would like to have that option,” he said. “If you brought somebody in that is really adversely affecting the complex, in the past you could give them a notice that says, ‘It’s just not working out. Sorry about that,’ and end it.”
However, Jenkins noted that evictions have been “extremely unusual” for Whispering Oaks.
“I think I probably asked people to leave on two, maybe three occasions in 15 to 20 years,” he said.
Deb Shumaker, a Whispering Oaks tenant, said that she is pleased with the new law.
“I think it’s a great thing,” she said. “With the housing market skyrocketing, it increases rent and that’s like an automatic thing. So, when the housing market goes up, it’s not good for renters.
“So far, we haven’t been raised beyond 5% here (at Whispering Oaks), so we’re in pretty good shape. We’re truly blessed here.”
Shumaker also recognized the state’s housing crisis and the growing number of people without homes.
“There are so many homeless people out there, and it is becoming more and more intense, and I feel bad for those people,” she said.
Edscel Valicusto, who also lives in the Whispering Oaks Apartments, said that he likes the new law.
“It’s really better for the tenants, because there’s no (major rent) raise,” he said. “They’re going to stay longer. Normally, once (the rent) increases, the tenant tends to (seek) different places.”
Valicusto added that he is fortunate to have had a quality renting experience at Whispering Oaks.
“I’ve been here two years already, but we haven’t really had an increase in the (rent),” he said.
While visiting the Emerald Gardens Apartments in East Elk Grove, the Citizen met with tenant Jose Serrano.
He told this publication that he is excited about the new law.
“They (increased his monthly rent) twice last year – $100, $100 – then (another) $30,” he said. “Yeah, thank God they passed that law.”
Serrano noted that his landlord has since reduced his rent by $30 per month.
Another Emerald Gardens tenant, Kimberly Stewart-Vital, noted that she likes that the new law protects tenants from large rental increases.
“I think it’s wonderful that they can’t raise the rent more than 5% at a time,” she said. “It is unfortunate that they took efforts to raise their rents as much as possible before the law passed. But at least they can’t keep overly taking advantage of people.”
Matti Cross, who also lives in the Emerald Gardens Apartments, also expressed gratitude for the new law.
“That’s awesome,” she said. “I’m thankful for that (law), because I don’t want my rent raised (by more than 5%, plus inflation).”
Cross added that she and her husband have not yet had their rent increased in the year that they have been Emerald Garden residents.