San Diego tenants could experience unwarranted rent hikes

Brandon Short | Contributor

The cost of living in California is known for being high but San Diego residents are calling for a change as rent prices are rising through the roof. Unlike other major cities in California, San Diego doesn’t have rent control.

At the cost of San Diego residents, apartment complexes and landlords are making huge profits. Students at the University of San Diego are seeing rent increases at nearby apartments and houses at the beach.

Junior Edward Alexander thinks that the rent prices are all a matter of perspective.

“My brother goes to Boulder and pays $1150 to live with three people and he has no pool,” Alexander said. “Carmel is a like a resort and a lot of people undervalue the amenities and beauty of the Carmel complex.”

Students who live at the beach are more frustrated about the value that they get for the price they pay. Junior Sam Pantazopolous used to live at the Carmel Pacific Ridge apartments and thought the prices were ridiculous until she moved into a beach rental this year.

“I thought they were unreasonable until I moved to Mission Beach, where you get half the amenities for twice the price,” Pantazopolous said.

Other cities in California such as San Francisco, Oakland, Palm Springs, San Jose, Santa Monica, and Palm Springs all have rental control. Landlords have to abide by a legal guideline that regulates the amount they can raise rent on their tenets.

Rent control is a legal guideline that regulates and prohibits a landlord from raising rents. The specific guidelines for rent control are set by the state or county governing authorities.

Since there is no rent control in San Diego, renters only have to abide by state laws. Those laws state that renters must provide 30-days notice  for a change in terms if tenants have been renting for under a year. If the tenant has been renting for over a year or if the rent is increasing by over 10 percent then renters must give 60-days notice.

When searching for a place to live a tenant has the leisure of comparing rental homes, comparing prices, and even negotiating rent prices with possible landlords. However, once tenants move into their homes they lose all negotiating powers when it comes time to renew the lease. Landlords have the upper hand knowing the financial and psychology burdens of finding a new place to live.

Concerned residents have petitioned for rent control on the website. Nearly 2,500 people have signed the petition and they hope to reach 10,000 signatures in order to get the attention of the City Council.  When the petition has met its quota for signatures it will be delivered to San Diego City Council and Mayor’s Office.

“Renters are experiencing substantial rent hikes that are not consistent with salary increases,” the petition states. “This system creates a lose-lose situation for renters – pay whatever the landlord asks or endure the hardship of a move.”

According to the SanDiego government website, more than 50 percent of San Diego households rent; some 44 percent of income is spent on rent; and rents have jumped 25 percent over the past 10 years.

San Diegans’ quality of life is being affected, while the large corporations who own apartments are winning big.

“The Irvine Company, which owns and manages 12 complexes in San Diego, has seen recent annual growth of 8.7 percent, and its Chairman Donald Bren has made $3 billion over the past three years (an increase of 25 percent), making him the 30th richest American with a net worth of $15.2 billion,” the petition stated.

An independent landlord of two apartments in Pacific Beach, Gail Browne, proposes it’s a two-way street when it comes to rental prices.

“I believe in the free market for rents,” Browne said. “Remember the market controls the rent anyway. As a landlord you have to be competitive or the tenant will go somewhere else to live.”

Browne also commented on the mutual understanding and partnership between landlord and tenant.

“Rent control is not fair to the owner because cost can increase faster than inflation. Under rent control rents can only go up by an inflation factor — which is one to two percent a year. I haven’t raised the rents in my apartments because they are good paying tenants.”

Although there is no rent control in San Diego, other landlord laws exist to protect tenants. In San Diego, a landlord is obligated to keep rental premises in habitable condition, regardless of any agreement to the contrary.

Landlords may not also charge more than two months rent as a security deposit and cannot charge any other move-in costs.

When you rent an apartment, both you and your landlord have created a relationship in good faith. Learn the laws that protect and serve you. As a consumer and renter it’s important to know your rights so that you can assert them if necessary.