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Rent is rising on the Central Coast. How high can it go?

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Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 08, 2022

If you've received notice that your rent is going up, you're not alone. Central Coast community members have told KSBY that their monthly housing costs are rising.

California's Tenant Protection Act, signed into law in 2019, puts price caps on some rentals. It was a milestone in renter protections, Stephanie Barclay, legal director at the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation, explained.

"There had been no protections before that for tenants. So this law went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and then right after that, COVID hit and a whole other set of laws went into effect relating to evictions," Barclay said. "I know there is a lot of confusion now for both landlords and tenants."

In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, landlords can raise rent up to nine percent per year, but they have to give a written notice 30 days beforehand. Under the Tenant Protection Act, landlords can only raise rent twice per year.

Dorms and specific structures are exceptions to the Tenant Protection Act and are not protected by the legislation.

State law also offers protection to some renters who fell on hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"[If] tenants followed the proper procedures, they're still protected from eviction if they weren't able to pay that rent during that protected time," Barclay said, speaking of the statewide eviction moratorium that ended on Sept. 30, 2021. "The landlord is limited to suing them in a small claims court to get those moneys owed if the state is not going to provide rent relief."

For details on rent increases, evictions and other housing issues, experts say you should be sure to read the fine print.

Possible grounds for evictions include failure to pay rent, owners choosing to move into the space, substantial remodeling or removing the property from the rental market.

Barclay also commented on the rising costs of living in San Luis Obispo County.

"People from out of the area are paying, you know, over asking price," she said, "and that's driving up the rents, which were already high in our area. So [that is] making it really difficult for people to afford to live here."

Community members can request a free consultation with the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation. The group offers free, confidential services in English and Spanish, regardless of citizenship status.