Rental unit registration is the foundation of any rent stabilization program. The registry collects information on property owners and management companies and some particulars of each unit and tenancy, such as which housing services (like parking and utilities) are provided; when and why the last vacancy had occurred; and the actual rent amounts. We want to be sure that the rent charged for any unit is the lawful rent.
The Registry is About Accountability
The registry data will help the city regulate rental housing in a city where it went largely unregulated: unlawful evictions; units not permitted as housing but rented to tenants; and numerous condominium buildings where units were rented out by management without the required rent stabilization protections.
The registry finally brings some law and order to a largely unregulated territory. For so many decades it was the wild west! In fact, before the registry our city did not know how many rental properties were in operation and even which owners were not paying the business tax.
That’s why landlords have pushed back so strongly against any kind of disclosure to the registry, an effort led by the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. These are some of the claims that landlords made to tank the registry:
- The city’s request for information is unlawful, even unconstitutional. (Neither is true.)
- The information collected about the landlord’s business is proprietary and confidential. (Also not true.)
- Requiring landlords to report actual rents is an invasion of tenants’ privacy. (It is actually required by the state law for every rent control city.)
At every turn, City Council reaffirmed their decision to create and maintain the registry as the backbone of our rent stabilization program — and they did so unanimously every time!
The city requires landlords to re-register rental units each year in January. The purpose for re-registration is to continually update the registry with the latest information. Additionally, when a unit is vacated, upon re-rental the unit is newly registered. This ensures that tenancy details are updated whenever there is a change of tenant. And lastly, the landlord must update the city whenever there is a change in property ownership or management. This way the city always has the latest contact information.
For the tenant, re-registration means an annual notice of the current rent reported by the landlord. The tenant then has an opportunity to dispute (appeal) the reported rent to tacitly let it take effect as the lawful, certified rent. Read more about the registration in our explainer, Rental Unit Registration: What Does It Mean for Tenants?
More on the Origin of the Registry
City Council adopted the rental unit registry in January of 2017 as part of the urgency ordinance tightening rent stabilization regulations. According to the city staff report’s recommendation for a registry:
The goal of a Rental Registry Program is to ensure adherence with State and Local Health and Safety Codes, to preserve the City’s rental housing stock, and to protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants and the public. – January 24, 2017 staff report
Here’s how the urgency ordinance described the rental unit registry. What’s to be afraid of? 🙂