Maximum Lawful Rent

Click this link to download a fillable 2022 Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy to increase rents per the 2022 General Adjustment. This page explains the total lawful rent that may be charged for any controlled rental unit. Detailed instructions for completing the 2022 Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy are below.

The rent control law limits the amount of rent that may be charged for controlled rental units. There are three amounts that can be added together to make up the Maximum Lawful Rent:

The Maximum Allowable Rent (MAR)

The MAR is the rent ceiling for a unit, not including a possible registration fee pass-through and/or surcharges. For tenancies that started before January 1, 1999, the MAR for a unit is in most cases determined by the amount of rent in effect on April 10, 1978 plus allowed increases or decreases authorized by the rent control law.  Prior to January 1, 1999, the MAR remained controlled between tenancies. Since January 1, 1999, property owners have had the right to set the initial rent for most new tenancies. For tenancies started since then, the MAR is based on the rent in effect when the tenancy began plus allowed increases or decreases authorized by the rent control law. Property owners are required to properly register each new tenancy with the Rent Control Agency. You can look up the MAR for a controlled property by using our Look Up a Rent tool.

The Registration Fee

The Rent Control Board charges an annual Registration Fee for each rent-controlled unit to the owners of rent-controlled properties.  Owners may pass up to 50 percent of the annual registration fee through to each tenant in equal monthly installments.  For the 2022/2023 fiscal year, the annual registration fee is $228 per unit. This equates to $19.00 per unit per month, half of which ($9.50) may be passed through to tenants as a monthly fee with proper notice.

Property-Tax-Related Surcharges

In some instances, in addition to the MAR and one-half of the Registration Fee, owners may charge tenants a pro rata (proportionate) share of some of the property taxes they pay. These property-tax-related surcharges are based on some of the charges that are included in the Annual Property Tax Bill that property owners receive each year from the County Assessor's Office.  The surcharges are limited to five line-items on the owner's property tax bill, which result from ballot measures approved by Santa Monica voters in prior elections. Surcharges may be passed through if all the following are true:

The five line-items from the property tax bill are:

In general, Property-Tax-Related Surcharges are calculated by dividing the line-items by the total number of units on a property, and then dividing that result by twelve months to get the monthly surcharge.

IMPORTANT!  There are limits on property-tax-related surcharges. Surcharges are limited to the actual prorated amount per proper calculation; four percent of the MAR; or $35 per month - whichever amount is less. If the property value is reassessed on or after March 1, 2018 due to a sale or voluntary improvements, the owner may no longer pass through property-tax-related surcharges to any tenant.

 


Annual General Adjustment Rent Increases 

Each year the Board announces an increase to the MAR portion of the rent, known as the General Adjustment (or GA).  The GA is primarily based on 75 percent of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for the Los Angeles area for the 12 months ending in March.  The annual GA increases the MAR for most controlled units, therefore increasing the Maximum Lawful Rent for a unit. 

For more information regarding the current and past general adjustments, as well as the Rent Control regulations/resolutions and staff reports regarding annual general adjustments, please visit Chapter 3 of our regulations and this Historical General Adjustments Summary sheet.

A rent may be increased by the GA as of September 1 of each year only if:

A fillable Notice of Change in Terms of Tenancy form that owners may use to give the required notice may be downloaded here. Instructions for completing the form are available here.