California’s rent control regulations—specifically, the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (Civ. Code Section 1954.50 et seq.) (Costa-Hawkins Act)—are under attack, yet again. This most recent challenge comes as the state tries desperately to reverse the decades long trend of declining housing availability through a myriad of legislative enactments.

Admittedly, rent control in the Golden State has a complex history. Enacted in 1995, the Costa-Hawkins Act sets parameters for the implementation of local rent control ordinances by cities and counties and prescribes statewide limits on the application of local rent control with regard to certain properties. Generally, the Costa-Hawkins Act authorizes an owner of residential real property to establish the initial rental rate for a dwelling or unit, except in specified circumstances, including: (i) when the residential real property has a certificate of occupancy issued after Feb. 1, 1995; (ii) when the residential real property has already been exempt from the residential rent control ordinance of a public entity on or before Feb. 1, 1995, pursuant to a local exemption for newly constructed units; and (iii) when the residential real property is alienable and separate from title to any other dwelling units, except as specified. At its core, the Costa-Hawkins Act intended to balance the interests of both landlords and tenants.