By Angela Greenwood

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Over the last few years, demand for housing in Sacramento has soared, leading to dramatically-rising rent. Now some city officials think mandatory mediation may help keep rents from skyrocketing further.

Sacramento’s rising rents are a common complaint a City Hall. In 2017, the city had the highest metropolitan rent increases in the nation, rising on average by more than 8.2%.

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Now city leaders are considering new rules to help keep rates reasonable, by having landlords and tenants talk about it.

Eric Guerra – Sacramento City Vice Mayor
“We want to find better ways to resolve and assist tenants with understanding their rights,” said Sacramento City Vice Mayor Eric Guerra.

Under the proposal, property owners with five or more units would be required to offer tenants mediation if annual rent increases by more than 6%. Negotiations would begin over the phone and then face to face if there is not a resolution.

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Rental increases greater than 6% would be banned until the mediation process is complete and landlords would be required to pay mediation costs and administrative fees. In the end, the mediation would be non-binding.

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Landlords would also be required to offer 18-month leases to provide more stability for renters.

Property owners first began protesting the plan when it was unveiled last fall.

“Can this committee guarantee me that the city fees won’t increase by more than 6% a year, every single bill I get, my costs go up,” said one concerned owner.

Some tenants’ rights groups are also opposed, saying the proposition does not do enough to guarantee affordable housing.

It’s an idea to help prevent people from being priced out of their homes, but not everyone is convinced it will work.

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If approved, the program would begin in October and expire in three years, when the city hopes to have more affordable housing in place.