San Diego Landlords Face Legal Action for Illegal Rent Hikes

While San Diego tenants struggle with rising rents, some landlords are making the problem worse by illegally raising rents far beyond legal limits.

Now these landlords may face consequences as community groups pursue legal action against their predatory practices.

The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 caps rent increases in California at 5% plus inflation, or 10% maximum. But according to tenant advocacy organizations, some San Diego landlords are raising rents 15-30% — a clear violation of the law.

These excessive hikes are forcing tenants to choose between paying unlawful rents or losing their homes.

In response, affordable housing groups are taking action against repeat offenders. The San Diego Tenants Union is working with pro bono lawyers to file lawsuits against landlords with a documented history of illegal rent increases.

By pursuing litigation and financial penalties against those willfully violating rent control laws, advocates hope to force compliance and deter other landlords from overcharging tenants.  

While legal challenges can be lengthy and complex, small victories can have an impact.

In one recent case, a landlord who raised a tenant's rent by 25% was forced to roll back the increase to 10% — the maximum legal amount — and provide a small financial settlement. Though a modest win, it demonstrates that unlawful rent hikes can be successfully challenged in court.

However, litigation is not a cure-all. Tenant groups argue that stronger enforcement of existing laws is also needed, along with expanded tenant protections like longer notice periods for rent hikes and limits on evictions without cause.

The city is facing an affordable housing crisis, and protecting tenants from predatory rent practices should be a top priority.

Landlords who follow the law and maintain reasonable rent increases have nothing to fear. But those who break the law to maximize profits at the expense of tenants may soon face legal consequences as community groups stand up for residents struggling to afford housing in San Diego.

Enforcing rent control and holding unscrupulous landlords accountable is critical for stabilizing the city's rental market and ensuring that tenants are not priced out of their homes.