Read the latest on rent control conversations across the country.
Maryland is not the only place considering rent control legislation as the new year begins. Connecticut and Boston, Massachusetts are both seeing advocate efforts to enact the policy. Fortunately, new legal thought in Montana may mean that the state has already preempted local jurisdictions from regulating rent.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu campaigned on bringing rent control back to Boston. Since entering the office, her plans have been stymied by Massachusetts’ preemption of local rent control which was passed by statewide ballot measure in 1994. Back then, rent control in cities like Cambridge and Boston had driven down local property values and, due to a state funding formula, Massachusetts residents in other towns were forced to subsidize the eroded tax revenues. This led to the state banning local government from instituting caps on rent increases.
However, now that Maura Healey flipped the Governor’s office from red to blue in 2022 and both chambers of the legislature are Democratically controlled, Mayor Wu’s goal of lifting the statewide rent control ban is looking like a possibility. A definitive proposal has not been announced, but it is expected that the mayor and advocates will push for something close to a six percent cap on rent increases plus the change in inflation with a maximum increase of 10 percent. This proposal may exempt new construction built within 15 years and some smaller, owner-occupied properties. The rent control law could also include a just-cause eviction ordinance which lays out specific requirements for a rental housing provider to regain possession of their property.
State and local advocates are rallying around a bill that has been proposed in the Connecticut State Senate which would limit rent increases to two and a half percent per year and create no-fault eviction rules like in Boston. The proposed bill, CT SB138, is a placeholder bill and does not include specific language on what those eviction protections would look like; its filing, however, is indicative of a coordinated push for rent control by progressive advocates in Connecticut with buy-in from legislators.
Currently, Connecticut state law does not allow local jurisdictions to adopt rent control policies, as decided by the State’s Supreme Court, however they are enabled to create “fair rent commissions” which can receive complaints about rent and “control and eliminate excessive rental charges.” The proposed rent control law, however, would apply to rental properties statewide and operate in addition to these fair rent commissions.
A newly introduced bill in Montana would preempt a local government from enacting rent control on private residential or commercial properties. The proposal, SB 105, would provide an exception to this law for any properties that are donated or sold at a reduced price by the local government or receiving certain grant funding from the local jurisdiction, state, or federal government. If this bill passes, Montana will become the 32nd state to preempt rent control, according to NAA’s research. Ohio passed legislation preempting local jurisdictions’ regulation of rent in June of 2022.
NAA and its affiliate partners are determined to defend the rental housing industry against these harmful policies. For more information about rent control, please contact Ben Harrold, NAA’s Manager of Public Policy.