‘Anti-Price Gouging’ is the New Rent Control

A lesser-known form of rent control gains traction nationwide.

By Ben Harrold |

| Updated

2 minute read

This session, the Colorado General Assembly is considering House Bill 24-1259, which would require a lesser-known form of rent control that is gaining traction in state legislatures across the nation: Government policies that limit rents during a declared state of emergency or natural disaster.

Proponents are experiencing success messaging these rent control policies as “anti-price gouging” and are gaining traction in places that historically would not seriously consider rent regulations. These policies are intended to be temporary during an emergency but in practice, constantly place additional burdens on housing providers in jurisdictions where triggering events frequently occur throughout the year. Currently, 35 states have legislation that protects against “price gouging” while 33 states preempt rent control. This overlap indicates that these supposedly temporary measures are often the most politically expedient way to institute a rent regulation regime. 

In its original form, this bill would require housing providers to cap rent increases following a federal or state declared emergency. The rent increase limitation would apply to declarations that resulted in a material decrease in residential housing units and only in specific geographic areas identified in the declaration. Rent caps would be enforced when a disaster declaration begins and continue for two years after the date of the initial disaster, regardless of whether the declaration has ended or the issue has been resolved.  

The bill also creates confusing and complicated compliance responsibilities for housing providers according to whether the housing in question was or was not on the market immediately following the disaster. Noncompliance with this law would be classified as a deceptive trade practice and legal action could be taken by the state attorney general, district attorney or an aggrieved party. 

Rather than adopting failed policies like rent control that are widely recognized to exacerbate the affordable housing shortage and reduce the quality of apartment homes, the Colorado Apartment Association (CAA) is working diligently to reduce the impacts of these bad policies on rental housing providers and instead encourage the General Assembly to focus on responsible and sustainable pro-housing policies. 

Alongside our affiliate partners like the CAA, the National Apartment Association opposes rent control in all its forms and works with our partners to support their state and local advocacy efforts to protect the rental housing industry. 

For more information about rent control, please contact Ben Harrold, Manager of Public Policy.