Strict rent control has been banned in California for 20 years. Now voters could resurrect it

By Katy Murphy and Angela Hart | Sacramento Bee

Walk into almost any rent-controlled apartment building in California, and you will likely find new tenants paying twice the price charged to their neighbors who moved in long ago.

That wasn’t always the case.

In Berkeley and Santa Monica, two liberal cities that 40 years ago pioneered some of the strongest rent control laws in the nation, tenants new and old once paid about the same for rent-controlled apartments.

A Bay Area News Group and Sacramento Bee analysis shows that the monthly cost of a rent-controlled, one-bedroom apartment would be about $1,000 less today for new tenants in those cities if local rules — which capped how much landlords could raise rents for newcomers as well as existing tenants — had remained in place.

Those rules, and the state law that banned them, are now at the heart of a costly, high-stakes battle over rent control in California.

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