Not even a pandemic can keep rents from rising in Los Angeles. Over the past year, the average rent rose in eight of the county’s major cities by at least 6%, even as the region reeled from COVID-19 and high unemployment.
But no place experienced as steep an increase as Pasadena. The city of about 140,000 saw rents jump by 20%. In Los Angeles, by comparison, rents rose 9.1%, according to data compiled by Apartment List, an online housing rental marketplace.
Private services such as Apartment List, Zillow and Rentometer often rely heavily on recent transactions to generate their data, says Gary Painter, a professor of public policy and the director of the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation. That means renters who have been in a property for several years, and are therefore likely paying a lower rent, might not be fully captured in the data.
$1,715 for a studio
But properties being listed on the market lately have been rising in major cities across the nation. The median rent for a studio apartment in Pasadena, according to Apartment List, is now $1,715, up from $1,410 in October of 2020. A two-bedroom apartment there now goes for $2,574 a month.
That is, if you can find one. “We only have one vacancy now,” said Roze Lee, a leasing agent at THEO, an upscale apartment complex in Pasadena.
Jane Panangaden, a member of the Pasadena Tenants Union, said more calls have been coming into the group’s hotline lately.
“Rents have been increasing in Pasadena consistently for the last 10-plus years, with only a minor dip in rents for new listings in spring and summer of 2020,” she said. “The long-term trend is that the rents are going up much faster than inflation.”
Panangaden blames the lack of rent-control laws in Pasadena as the driving force behind the city’s steep price increase. Rent-control rules, which vary from city to city, generally limit the annual increase in rent for eligible properties. In the city of Los Angeles, for example, landlords whose properties are covered by the ordinance can only increase rents on current tenants between 3-8% annually.
Other cities that have seen the highest increases are Burbank, at 14.7%, and Glendale, at 14.5%. Neither Pasadena, Glendale or Burbank have rent-control regulations in place.
However, rents in Long Beach rose 7.2% over the past year, the lowest of the eight cities Crosstown surveyed. It also does not have a rent-control ordinance.
The Pasadena Tenants Union is currently gathering signatures to place rent and eviction restrictions on the ballot next year. “The new law would take the form of a city charter amendment, meaning that if it is enacted it can only be modified by a vote of the people and not by city council,” said Panangden.
Though California’s moratorium on evictions ended in September, several cities in the county have maintained protections for tenants. In fact, Pasadena still has a COVID-19 eviction ban in place. Los Angeles and Beverly Hills also are maintaining their policy of limiting most evictions.
No place left to move
Lack of affordable housing has plagued the region for decades and is one of the major drivers of the homelessness crisis. Los Angeles has recently begun rezoning many areas to allow single-family homes to be replaced with multi-family apartment buildings. However, construction in the region remains constrained by lack of available land and high costs.
Home prices in Los Angeles have also risen by about 19.8% in the past year, according to data from the California Association of Realtors.
How we did it: We compiled data on monthly average rent prices in eight Los Angeles County cities compiled by Apartment List.
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