How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in California?

Caps on rent hikes in California depend on many factors like inflation, who owns the building, and the pre-existing local ordinances.
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
The California Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482) lays out the maximum that landlords can increase their tenants' rents by 5% plus the regional CPI or by 10% of the lowest rent charged during the 12 months before the rent increase—whichever number is less. But, not every building in
is protected by this act.    
Reading the news today, it's hard not to feel panicked about inflation. Every headline seems to announce that everything, from gas to groceries to a pair of socks, is costing more than in previous years. And monthly rent is no exception—if your lease is up soon, you're probably a little anxious about a rent spike. 
If you're one of the nearly 17 million renters in California, you probably have questions about just how much your landlord can increase your rent.
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We'll go over exactly what's allowed and what isn't, how to handle a rent increase, and give you some money-saving tips that can help pad your bank account in the event of a rent hike. 
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How much can a landlord raise rent in California? 

Rent increases in California are capped at 5% plus the change in the regional consumer price index (CPI) or 10% of the lowest rent charged during the 12 months before the rent increase, whichever amount is less.  
In early 2020, the Golden State passed the California Tenant protection act AB 1482, which outlines the statewide limits on rent increases. But, unlike any other states, there’s no flat percentage limit. Let’s take a look at what these numbers actually mean. 
The consumer price index, or CPI, is just a statistic calculated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that helps measure inflation. For example, in California, you will need to look at CPI for the month of April of that year, which is available
on the Bureau's website
Here are some sample CPIs for 4 major California areas for April 2022: 
So if you do the math for Los Angeles County, the 5% and the added CPI of 7.9% total 12.9%. This does not mean that your landlord can raise your rent by that percentage—remember that AB 1482 prohibits rent raises larger than 10%. 
However, not every building in California follows the laws stipulated in AB 1482, nor does the law apply to every county. Any pre-existing local ordinance supersedes the rules and regulations of AB 1482. If your California city already has rent control laws in place, those take precedence. 
The following buildings are not protected by AB 1482: 
  • College dorms 
  • Hotels 
  • Commercial properties like retail stores, restaurants, etc. 
  • Single-family homes and condos if they are not owned by a corporation, real estate investment trust, or an LLC with one member as a part of a larger corporation  
  • Mobile homes 
  • Properties owned by non-profit groups 
  • Buildings constructed within the last 15 years 
  • Duplexes in which the owner resides in the other unit 
Key takeaway Under AB 1482, the absolute maximum a landlord can increase your rent in California is 10%–but the law does not apply to every building and every county. 

How much notice does a landlord need to give before they raise the rent? 

Should your landlord decide to raise your rent, they must notify you in writing ahead of time, either via email or via physical letter. Their letter has to include: 
  • The amount of the rent increase 
  • When the increase takes effect 
  • The rental payment process for tenants 
Exactly how soon they must notify you is contingent on the kind of lease you have and how long you’ve been renting in the building: 
  • Month-to-month or annual leases which have been there for a year or more: 60-day notice 
  • Month-to-month or annual leases which have been there less than a year: 30-day notice 
  • Week-to-week leases: 30-day notice, regardless of time lived in the building  
But, no matter your lease or length of stay, the landlord must give you at least 90-day notice for a rent increase of 10%. 
MORE: California tenant rights

When is it illegal to raise rent in California? 

Per California law, rent may only be raised twice over 12 months, subject to the maximum percentages in AB 1482. Meaning, that if your rent is $1000, your landlord can only raise it to $1100 in one year—they cannot exceed a 10% increase. 
Also, under California's Fair Housing Act, it is illegal for a landlord to raise the rent solely based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, familial status, religion, or disability. 

How to respond to a rent increase 

Don’t panic: there are ways to deal with a rent increase head-on. If you’re not willing to just accept the increase when your current lease expires, you’ve got some options: 
  • Hire a lawyer if you suspect your landlord is using discriminatory housing practices 
  • File a lawsuit if your landlord did not provide you with adequate notice 
  • Open the conversation with your landlord to discuss lowering the rent 
  • Check out a
    rental assistance program
    if you are unable to make your monthly payments  

How to save money to help with a rent increase 

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The statewide ordinances prohibiting rent raises in California expired on 12/31/21, so any rent increases for the 2022 calendar year are now valid.
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