L.A.'s Plan for a Rent Freeze Is Put on Ice

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rent freeze laAbout 600,000 Los Angeles tenants got the message loud and clear Friday -- as in the past years, these rent-controlled apartment dwellers will likely face a 3 percent rent increase in July, with some facing as much as a 5 percent hike.

L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon and many tenants groups have been arguing against rent increases in these tough economic times, insisting that rent hikes aren't feasible and should be halted -- at least for a short time in the upcoming year. Landlords countered that they rely on the money from the rent increases.

But last Friday the City Council ultimately moved to shelve this idea in front of an unhappy audience.

How did this issue go from approval by the L.A. City Council on May 7, when it even went so far as to have the City Attorney prepare a moratorium, to the motion dying in City Hall?

Here is a quick time line:
  1. Earlier this month RentedSpaces reported that Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon proposed a one-year halt to the increase, saying families are already struggling. The length of time was shortened to a four-month moratorium on rent increases, from July 1 through October 31, which the City Council housing committee recommended on May 5.
  2. The matter then went to the City Council for a vote on May 7 with the Council voting 8-6 in favor of it. The next step was to have a final ordinance, drafted by the City Attorney, for the final City Council vote this past Friday.
  3. What the City Council did last Friday was effectively side with the landlords and opt not to put a moratorium on rent increases. They did this not by vote, but by sending the matter back to a commission for further review. You know, the commission that voted for it.
Red tape at its finest!

During the session the council heard from both renters and landlords who were staunch in their positions. Renters argued that with the rate of inflation below 3 percent and with the current poor state of the economy, they shouldn't endure further increases -- and many politicians and citizens groups agreed. Landlords argued that they need the money and are having tough times of their own.

According to a report, at least three people were detained after the council's decision on Friday and were removed by police.

For now it seems, the landlords have won. The scheduled rent increases will still take place.
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