How much can a landlord raise rent San Diego

One of the scarier financial situations a tenant can encounter is when their landlord increases the rent. Unfortunately, for people living in the state of California, the housing market is absurdly expensive. Tenants pay hand over fist renting apartments in cities like San Diego, even in unsafe parts of town. With rents continuing to increase, you’re likely wondering how much a landlord can raise rent in San Diego, California. Fortunately, CA has stepped it up and enacted rent increase limits in San Diego to protect renters.

Max Rent Increase by Landlords in San Diego

According to Assembly Bill No. 1482, Tenant Protection Act of 2019, a landlord can increase your rent in California by 10% within a 12-month period. This California rent control law is a good thing, yet tenants still remain fearful. There are exemptions for landlords to get around this, which we will touch on later.

Here’s an example of what percentage your landlord can raise your rent in San Diego:

  • You sign a 12-month lease at $2,200 in rent per month
  • Once that 12-month period is over, your rent can increase by 10%
  • Starting on the 13th month of your rental period, your landlord can increase the rent by $220
  • Total rent starting on that 13th month is $2,420
  • Your landlord is not allowed to raise the rent again until 12 more months have passed
  • If you continue renting there, the landlord can increase your rent by another 10% starting on the 25th month

It’s a vicious cycle. Real estate is capitalism at its finest! While this California rental control law is good, many tenants are running for the hills. Housing affordability is getting less attainable as the months progress. Although a landlord can only increase your rent by 10% in San Diego every 12 months, the money adds up over time.

Rent Increase Rules for Month-to-month Leases

Can a Landlord Increase Rent on a Month-to-month Lease in California?

While month-to-month leases come with their perks and freedoms, they are not immune to rent increases. In short, the same rules apply. A California landlord can increase rent by 10% on a month-to-month lease. It may not be the answer you wanted to hear, but it’s the law! The same 12-month timeframe applies as well. If your landlord raises your rent by 10%, they must legally wait another 12 months to increase it again.

For landlords that simply want it all, a 10% increase in rent may not be enough for them. They can decide to legally sell the rental property while you still occupy it. You can learn more about the home-selling process here to prepare yourself from the perspective of a tenant. Prepare for all possibilities when living in the city of San Diego, CA as a tenant.

Landlords Exemptions from Rent Control in San Diego

rent increase limit san diego

Now, for the fun part. Wait, did I say fun? I meant frustrating.

As great as rent control laws in San Diego are, loopholes and exemptions exist. If a landlord meets certain criteria and performs specific tasks, they are exempt from rent control in California. Does that mean your landlord can increase rent for your apartment as much as they want? Sadly, yes. Landlords are clever and know how to get around certain laws. If a property owner follows these steps, there is no limit on the percentage that your rent can increase.

Rent Control Exemption: Single-Family Dwelling

Landlord Owns Rental Property in their Personal Name

Do you know if your landlord owns your home in an LLC (limited liability company) or personal name? Find this out ASAP! To determine how much your landlord can raise your rent in San Diego, look at your lease. The lease between a landlord in California and a tenant should be your reference for all information regarding your living situation.

The lease should state the property owner’s name. If they used a property management company, you should see both their company name and the landlord’s name. Here, you can tell if your landlord owns the rental property in their personal name or an LLC. Ideally, you see an LLC there! That would mean your landlord is not exempt and can only raise your rent by 10% maximum.

Rent Control Exemption: Duplex

Owner Occupies One Unit

All duplexes are subject to rent increase limits in San Diego unless the owner occupies one of the units themselves. Is your landlord also your neighbor? In that case, they are exempt from AB 1482 – meaning there is no limit to the amount that they can increase the rent in San Diego. Other duplexes that aren’t owner-occupied must follow the rent control laws, limiting them to 10% yearly increases.

Written Notice from Landlord to Tenant

Again, reference your lease here! Landlords will commonly write this disclosure within the lease or on an addendum to have you sign when you first move it. Your lease could state something to the effect of:

  • “Your landlord is exempt from rent control in California. There is no limit to how much they can increase your rent.”

As a tenant, you can fight rent increase amounts if you never signed anything in writing. The landlord must disclose that they are exempt and the reasoning for it. Without written notice, a landlord cannot legally increase your rent in San Diego by more than 10% every 12 months.

Note: this applies to both single-family and multi-family properties

Do You Have to Accept a Rent Increase in California?

From an optimistic tenant standpoint, you don’t have to accept anything you don’t seem suitable for your living situation. However, in San Diego County, where the rental market is very competitive, you likely have to take what you can get (to a degree). There’s a huge demand for apartments from renters and a low supply. If you don’t accept the rent increase from your landlord in San Diego, they can easily find someone else. Play your cards right when negotiating with landlords over your rent increase.

How to Reject a Rent Increase in San Diego CA

rent control san diego ca

Rejecting a rent increase in San Diego is as simple as saying no. Of course, that doesn’t mean your landlord needs to keep you as a tenant. If they are not exempt from rent limit increases in California, you can reject anything above a 10% increase of your current gross rent. That’s the field that your landlord in that specific situation can play in.

1. Financial Hardship as a Tenant

For landlords that are exempt from Assembly Bill No. 1482, you must negotiate with them. For starters, lead with honesty. If the legal rent increase that your landlord demands puts financial hardship on you and your family, tell them that. Argue your case as to why the huge increase in rent puts you in a bad spot financially.

2. State of Emergency

There are exemptions from the tenant side when fighting a rent increase from your landlord in San Diego, CA. This entirely depends on your circumstances. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic was considered a state of emergency in California. You could play that card and try to reject an unfair rent increase by your landlord. Note, this is not legal advice. Please consult an attorney regarding this!

3. Run Rental Comps

Bringing your California landlord back down to earth is important when rejecting a rent increase. If you truly believe that they are overcharging you, prove it to them. Run rental comps in the area nearby to yours to get a feel for how much other units are renting for. Looking at nearby apartments for rent that are similar to yours can provide insight into the current rental market rates.

  • Comp = comparable property similar to yours

Rental Comps Step 1: Write down all the details of your rental unit. This includes things like the number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, square footage, and other amenities.

Rental Comps Step 2: Search within a 0.25-mile radius of where you are living. If there aren’t many nearby apartments for rent, change your search to a 0.5-mile radius.

Rental Comps Step 3: Compare what other available rental properties are listed for on the market. Note, glance at the days on market as well. If a rental listing has been sitting on the open market for +1 month, it’s likely overpriced.

After comparing your newly increased rent amount to other rental properties nearby, you can determine how accurate your landlord was. You can also use this tool to research rents in San Diego to see if you’re paying too much.

How Often Can a Landlord Raise the Rent?

Your Landlord Can Raise Rent Every Year in California

There is no limit on rent increases in California. By this, I mean your landlord can increase rent every 12 months as many times as they would like. Landlords can raise rent every year for as many years as they would like. As gloomy as that sounds, rent control laws are in place to keep many landlords from increasing your rent by more than 10% each year.

Navigating the Rent Increase Limit in San Diego as a Tenant

Rent increase limits in San Diego exist to protect tenants. However, there are exemptions to rental control that landlords can fall under and charge you insane amounts to live in their property. Stay up to date on landlord-tenant laws in San Diego. That way, you know which levers you can pull when fighting a landlord over your rent increase.

The same applies throughout SD County. If you live in Chula Vista, you will be fighting the same fight with your rental property. Ideally, your landlord is not exempt so they are limited in what percentage they can legally increase your rent. Become familiar with the laws and with your lease. Everything comes down to what is put in writing between you and your landlord. For anyone dealing with financial hardship from a huge increase in your rent in San Diego by your landlord, there is hope to negotiate.

Stop Paying Rent After an Increase

Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Yes, when San Diego rent control laws don’t protect you from having to pay more each month, that doesn’t mean you should stop paying altogether. You could eventually end up with the label of a squatter, which has its own set of baggage and illegality. There are many other productive ways to deal with a rent increase from your landlord. Don’t fight fire with fire.

Instead, do your best to follow the steps above and let the landlord know about your situation. Be honest with your landlord and let them know how raising your rent affects your financial situation. Unfortunately, landlords are also combatting inflation and rising housing expenses. This is a common reason why landlords raise the rent in San Diego CA.

This guide on San Diego rent increases is meant for educational purposes but is not legal advice. Please speak with a real estate attorney for guidance and refer to California laws for exact information on what is possible.