Citing high unemployment and the weak economy, City Councilman Richard Alarcon called Wednesday for a one-year moratorium on increases for rent-controlled units.
City law allows landlords to raise rents by up to 3 percent a year, regardless of whether their costs have increased. He estimated the one-year freeze could save families $300 to $500.
"This is a city of renters, and it is growing as more and more people are losing their homes to foreclosure," Alarcon said at a news conference. "Rent control was created to protect famlies. When we are in an economic recession, families who are struggling to make ends meet can still face rent increases."
Alarcon's proposal will first be considered by the council's Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee. He said he hopes to have a measure enacted to prevent increases scheduled for July 1.
Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival, estimated that 630,000 rental units in Los Angeles could be affected by the measure.
"Landlords have prospered in Los Angeles while renters have found themselves paying more and more of their income for rents," Gross said.
However, Dan Faller of the Apartment Owners Association of Southern California decried the proposal as "another example of mistreating landlords."
"They have been beaten on so much for so long, that this isn't a surprise," Faller said. "It also shows that the City Council has no idea on the economics of providing housing in this city."
The Valley Industry and Commerce Association also came out against the proposal.
"Los Angeles already places an unreasonable number of regulations on business owners," said Edgar Khalatian, chair of the VICA Land Use Committee. "This is yet another unfair burden on property owners who are struggling to avoid foreclosure proceedings."