In California and Oregon, rent control laws prevent landlords from raising the rent on existing tenants by more than about 10% a year.
But when tenants leave, however, it's a different story. Landlords routinely raise rents by much more, real estate experts said.
Landlords in California can't raise rents for existing tenants by more than 10% a year, but they routinely raise them as aggressively as possible once tenants leave, experts say.
The limits on occupied units mean landlords tend to raise rents as aggressively as possible in vacant apartments while securing a new renter.
In an investor call earlier this year, Adam Wyll, president and chief operating officer of American Assets Trust, a major West Coast real estate investment trust based in San Diego, revealed that rent growth upon lease turnover was more than double that of occupied apartments.
"Regarding our multifamily portfolio in San Diego, we are seeing vacant units lease at an average of over 20% over prior rents with little to no concessions offered," Wyll said. "Note that renewal rates are capped just below 10% based on California laws. So we are maximizing the rental rates on vacant units to the full extent of our capabilities, all the while managing expenses."
Neither California nor Oregon's rent control laws place any limit on rent hikes once an apartment turns over. That often means new tenants can end up paying much more than the previous renter.
"Generally, if the unit is vacant, it's brought to market [rent levels] and the increase is much healthier than 10%," said Dean Zander, executive vice president for CBRE in Los Angeles.
Local regulations vary, as California allows cities to enact stricter rent control regimes, which has been done in Los Angeles, Berkeley and other municipalities. Rent caps are also tied to local consumer price increases, and in Oregon, the allowable rent hike cap is set statewide.
Nationally, rents grew by 16% during the first half of 2022, according to Freddie Mac. Rent growth is expected to remain robust, with high interest rates keeping would-be home buyers in apartments, all while a nationwide lack of multifamily supply is struggling to meet demand... READ MORE