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California building electrification laws could prompt more evictions and rent increases

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California building electrification laws could prompt more evictions and rent increases

Renovations may give landlords cover to force out tenants


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 21, 2023
Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay - California building electrification laws could prompt evictions
Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

California laws requiring apartment owners to ditch appliances that use fossil fuels could prompt more evictions and rent increases in the state, according to a report from the nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy.

The law could spur more evictions if landlords undertake major renovations to comply with the electrification rule. Some cities and counties in the Golden State have exceptions to renter-protection laws that allow landlords to evict tenants while making renovations.

Another law that limits rent increases at lease renewal may come into play if owners look to recoup the cost of renovations through rent increases. That law does not apply to properties built within the past 15 years.

The state has set aside funds for many more energy retrofits, including $622 million for homes in low-income communities. But the legislation enabling this work has not addressed the possibility of evictions, according to the report.

Nearly 80% of California’s low-income renters spend more than half their income on rent, the report says. Renovations to decarbonize buildings could cause rent increases that low-income households cannot afford or could temporarily force tenants to vacate buildings, which could trigger more evictions, the report says.

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