In the midst of a waning pandemic, and as the California State Senate prepares to debate a possible end to Gov Gavin Newsom’s March 4, 2020 emergency order, rents have been slowly but steadily rising across California and the nation, over the last year.
According to a February 23,2020 update on real estate site Zumper.com, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena, CA is currently $2,100, which represents a 12% increase compared to the previous year.
But things fluctuate.
Over the past month, also according to Zumper, the average rent for a studio apartment in Pasadena decreased by -13% to $1,527. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment increased by 6% to $2,100, and the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment decreased by -1% to $2,775.
Costs for the same apartments on other rental sites, however, tended to be much higher than the Zumper site, with many two-bedroom apartments renting from $2500-3800.
The City of Pasadena is currently still covered by a March 2020 moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent by tenants experiencing financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Pasadena Tenants Union, parts of the city’s moratorium were superseded by state law, AB 3088, passed in September of 2021. Currently the two laws together do the following:
The Pasadena emergency ordinance restricts no-fault evictions, meaning tenants cannot be evicted unless the landlord gives a “just cause.”
The state law, AB 3088, weakens the Pasadena ordinance surrounding non-payment. It forbids evictions due to non-payment of rent due to a COVID-related loss of income, but only for rents missed between the months of March 2020 to August 2020.
The pronounced increase in rents, however, may only reflect rents on new apartments, of which there are only a limited number available. Two recent apartment openings in Central Pasadena, for example—a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment—drew 50 in-person applicants on the first day of availability.
Also, contrary to popular belief, there is no current rent freeze in Pasadena. A rent increase freeze which was passed by the LA County Board of Supervisors in March of 2020, was recently extended by the Board on January 25, but covers only unincorporated LA County, which includes Pasadena, but only its small unincorporated areas to the east and part of the Foothills.
The County of Los Angeles will assess their freeze every 30 days.
Renters in Pasadena, which make up 55% of residents are currently covered by AB1482, the Tenant Protection act of 2019.
Effective on January 1, 2020, the bill limits annual rent increases at 5 percent, plus any rise in the consumer price index, which cannot exceed 10 percent. Currently, in Los Angeles County, that adds up to 8.6%. However, AB 1482 does not apply to cities that are already regulated by their own local rent control ordinances, like Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, landlords in Pasadena are seeing both sides of the rent increase dynamic.
Michael Shaar, owner/broker at SIG Property Management, which manages some 200 properties in the San Gabriel Valley as well as Tujunga and Northeast Los Angeles, says that, “Some landlords are being more aggressive than others, feeling like they’ve stung over the last two years.”
Shaar also notes that rising inflation, as well as the costs of insurance, maybe fueling some rent increases.
On the other hand, said Shaar, “Some of our clients have also said, ‘Let’s hold off on any raises for now.’”.
Shaar added that the idea that, with the loosening of an eviction moratorium, landlords will suddenly unleash a torrent of evictions, is “crazy.”
“Landlords need their tenants. That’s their business,” he said. “Some landlords also feel that their hands are tied when other tenants in a building might want nuisance tenants removed.”
But in some rare cases, according to Deasey Penner Podley realtor and apartment owner Adam Bray-Ali, renters are simply not paying rents and defying landlords to take action, which many are currently loath to do.
“‘It’s like, “I’m not paying rent. What are you going to do to me?,’” he said.
On the other hand, realtor Andrew Grimes, of Compass Realty Hollywood, who owns properties in Pasadena, said he enjoys a strong relationship with his renters, most of whom are longtime tenants.
“They really don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them,” he laughed. Grimes noted that his apartments are rented at “under market” rates, but that it was “worth the cost of the lower rents to have such good tenants. We’re both just very respectful of each other.”