Did you know that the city of Los Angeles has a little-known program that allows building owners to be reimbursed 100% of the costs of major repairs and upgrades to their rent-controlled buildings? It’s called the Primary Renovation Program.
What is Primary Renovation Program?
The Primary Renovation Program is a program that enables landlords to receive 100% reimbursement for certain upgrades to their rent-controlled buildings. This includes repairing or replacing major building systems such as central heating/air conditioning, water and sewage piping, main electrical service upgrades and electrical wiring, elevators, reinforcement of the building structure and lead-based paint or asbestos abatement.
How are building owners reimbursed?
The Primary Renovation Program allows the landlord to finance the cost of the building improvements by increasing the tenant’s monthly rent, including rent-controlled tenants. As a matter of fact, even after the increased rent has paid in full for the upgrades, the rent increase will remain in place permanently.
Which building owners can benefit most from this program?
Owners of buildings in the city of Los Angeles where the rents are held artificially low by rent control can benefit greatly from this program. At no cost to themselves they can:
- Do major repairs and improvements to their buildings.
- Increase the value of their buildings.
- Continue to receive permanent higher monthly rents.
Will the Primary Renovation Program affect the annual rental increase allowed by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Act (RSO)?
No. The annual rental increase allowed by the RSO is in no way affected. The Primary Renovation Program rent increases are in addition to the annual rent increase allowed by the RSO.
What city department is in charge of this program?
This program is jointly overseen by the Los Angeles Code Enforcement and Rent Stabilization divisions.
Why would the city of Los Angeles have this program?
The city of Los Angeles is aware that the lower than market rents which can be created by rent control can act as a deterrent to landlords when they are considering making needed repairs and improvements to their buildings. This program was set up to encourage landlords, without having to bear additional expenses, of re-investing in the renovation of major building systems within their rental properties.
Is the Primary Renovation Program the same as the Capital Improvement Program?
No, the Primary Renovation Program is a completely different program than the better known Capital Improvement Program. The most significant difference between the two programs is that the Primary Renovation Program allows the landlord to be reimbursed 100% of the building improvement costs, while the Capital Improvement Program only allows for landlords to be reimbursed 50%.
What are the downsides to this program?
Paper work and city bureaucracy. Lots of paperwork. Slow moving city administrators. Also, the contractors doing the property upgrades must keep the exact schedule that has been approved before any of the work is started. On a project that takes several weeks or months to complete, it is highly advisable to employ only experienced contractors who can work with city administrators and inspectors and who can reliably keep to the exact work schedule required.
How can I find out more about the Primary Renovation Program?
You can find out more information regarding the Primary Renovation Program by going to the Los Angeles Housing Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) website at
I went to the HCIDLA website and it looks really complicated!
You’re right – it looks complicated. We’d like to say it looks more complicated than it is, but unfortunately it really is complicated to learn all the ins and outs of taking advantage of this program. However, as a contractor who specializes in these kind of projects, I am familiar with how this program works and am happy to help building owners and property managers with any questions they may have about this program.
I like the idea of getting a building renovation done with a 100% rebate of all my construction expenses, but I don’t think I have the time or knowledge to deal with all the paperwork and bureaucracy involved.
Yes, this is the number one concern by property owners and managers. Fortunately, you don’t have to! There are a few contractors who specialize in this type of work. A good Primary Renovation contractor will know the inspectors and the Housing administration officials, who to call on, and when, to keep your project moving smoothly. They’ll be able to help you get the various pre-construction forms filled out properly and submitted to the correct Los Angeles Housing administrators. During construction they will coordinate and expedite all the various aspects of the administration and construction steps needed to bring your project to a successful completion.
Still have questions?
If you have any questions about the Primary Renovation Program and would like to speak with someone who already has first-hand experience regarding this program please feel free to contact us or give us a call at 818-446-0888.