California's rent caps and just cause protections begin on January 1, 2020. This is photo of a flyer explaining the new law. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff of CalMatters)

A new California law will protect about 8 million Californians from dramatic rent hikes, and from certain evictions that lack “just cause” when a lease is no longer in effect.

As of Jan. 1, some landlords will be able to increase rents by 5 percent plus the rate of inflation (typically 2-3 percent). They also will have to provide a “just cause” for evicting tenants and, in some circumstances, pay for tenants to relocate

California’s version of “rent control lite” is modeled after a measure Oregon adopted earlier this year. It is not as expansive as rent control recently enacted in New York.

Gov. Gavin Newsom lobbied for the new measure, arguing that it is necessary to respond to rapid gentrification, soaring rents and an epidemic of homelessness.

The new law has some important exemptions. It doesn’t apply to single-family home rentals, unless they are owned by investment firms.

In this video, CalMatters’ housing and data reporter Matt Levin breaks down the California rent control law in a minute. CalMatters is building a video playlist to explain how various new laws will influence the lives of Californians.

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Matt Levin