As California is gearing up for the upcoming November election, there have been numerous commercials, reports, and articles advocating for both sides of the debate over Prop 10. Like most issues in America, there are two opposing viewpoints: those in power (homeowners, landlords, and real estate developers) vs. the powerless majority (renters).

According to the American Community Survey (2016), 54.3% of housing units are renter-occupied in Los Angeles County and 75% of homes were built before 1979. At the moment, rent control only exists in the city of Los Angeles and not in unincorporated parts of the county such as East Los Angeles. Furthermore, rent control only affects homes built before October 1, 1978. All new buildings built after this date, regardless of location are not subject to rent control. A vote in support of Prop 10 would result in the abolishing of the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act enacted back in 1995 – the last time there were any changes made in rent control – and allow for the development of new and relevant rent control policies.

California housing has undergone drastic changes in the last two decades since Costa Hawkins. The median rent in Los Angeles County has doubled in just two years and the housing shortage has left thousands of low-income residents displaced and on the streets. The housing crisis is just another example of capitalist, individualistic America – landlords don’t want to be burdened with the responsibility of housing low-income tenants, they want to maximize profits. Nonetheless, these low-income tenants have to go somewhere. Therefore it makes more sense for homeowners to support regulations and policies that advocate for affordable housing instead of allowing unregulated luxury condominiums that only exacerbate the existing problem.

However, Americans seem to oppose anything with the word “control” in it without considering the bigger picture. This includes the mom and pop landlords who are vehemently against Prop 10, claiming that rent control would place the burden of housing low-income tenants onto them. Real estate developers assert that Prop 10 would slow down the building of more housing units.

While this may be true for developers seeking to build luxury condominiums and town homes in affluent neighborhoods, this is not the case for affordable housing developers whose buildings are already rent-controlled without government interference.
What mom and pop landlords aren’t realizing is that we are fighting the battle against rent control on behalf of these real estate developers seeking to maximize their profits. The truth is, most mom and pop landlords own older homes and apartment buildings that are often in need of upgrades and repairs. Even without rent control, one can only charge so much for units that are sub-par. A renter is not going to pay $2000 a month for an outdated, roach-infested 1-bedroom unit when they can get a brand new studio apartment for the same price.

As these newer buildings that are completely exempt from rent control continue to increase rents because they can do whatever they want, eventually older homes will get priced out. By then, landlords may be grateful to find anyone willing to rent these dilapidated units unless they somehow find the funds to remodel their home – a very costly endeavor.

Therefore, it doesn’t make sense for landlords to oppose Prop 10. If anything, they should be in support of it because it’s not fair that only hardworking self-made homeowners have to suffer while the big corporations have the freedom to do whatever they want. Voting against Prop 10 is NOT going to eliminate rent control. Homes that are protected under rent control will stay protected. However, the same can’t be said for newer buildings. What we really need is to reach a bipartisan revision of outdated rent control policies for a more equal distribution of power and equity for the 99%.