Glossary

Key terms related to rent control in California and what they mean:

Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act
Legislation that exempts post-1995 construction and single-family homes from local rent control laws. Also requires that local rent control laws include vacancy-decontrol provisions, which temporarily remove rent restrictions between tenancies.

Ellis Act
Legislation from 1985 that bars local governments from forcing property owners to stay in the rental housing industry. In rent controlled communities, the law can provide an escape hatch for landlords losing money on their properties.

Just-cause eviction
Common in rent controlled jurisdictions, this policy requires that a landlord show “good cause” before terminating a tenancy. Tenants who don’t commit crimes or violate their rental agreements are effectively granted lifetime leases. When just cause does exist, the eviction process is costly and time-consuming and rarely carried out.

Vacancy decontrol
A policy allowing the price of a rent controlled unit to return to the market rate when a tenant moves out. Without vacancy decontrol, rent control continues on vacant units. The policy, permitted before Costa-Hawkins, artificially depresses rental rates permanently, constituting “strict rent” control.