Since the last update at the end of July, there have been numerous rent control developments in several states. Some fights have gone our way. Others are still playing out. Here’s the latest:
Florida is a true hotbed of activity. While the state maintains preemption, several localities have been working to place a rent control referendum on their November ballot. After significant debate, the Tampa and Saint Petersburg city councils both rejected the idea. In Orange County, however, county commissioners approved a resolution sending rent control to the ballot. If approved by voters, the resolution would cap rent increases in Orange County at 9.8 percent for one year. And Lake Worth recently declared a housing state of emergency, which was seen as a first step towards seeking to implement rent control. The Wall Street Journal wrote on rent control in Florida here (password required). The paper’s editorial board railed against rent control efforts in Florida, arguing, “Florida has become a mecca for refugees from other states in large part because of sensible economic policies. Nothing would do more to ruin that friendly economic climate than the insanity of rent control.”
The last update on Nevada noted that the North Las Vegas city clerk blocked efforts by the powerful Culinary Workers Union Local 226 to place a rent control referendum on the ballot. Since that time, the city council also rebuffed the union’s efforts. While conceding that rent control won’t be on the ballot this year, the union vowed to continue pushing for enactment and we expect a fight at the state level in 2023. The Nevada Independent has the story.
In New York, NMHC was disappointed to see that the city of Kingston enacted rent control. Kingston, which is located approximately 90 miles north of New York City, is the first upstate city to enact rent control. The policy extends to buildings with six or more units built prior to 1974, which covers about 1,200 units, according to local reporting. More can be found here.
In Richmond, California, just north of Oakland, the city council voted in favor of placing a rent control referendum on the November ballot. If passed, rent increases would be capped at 3 percent of a tenant's existing rent or at 60 percent of the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower. Pasadena also will have a rent control referendum in November. More can be found here.
In Minnesota, St. Paul leaders continue to seek changes to its ill-advised rent control law established last year. A proposal introduced by a member of the city council would provide a 20-year exemption for new construction. Some federally subsidized housing also would be exempt from the law. A panel established by the mayor previously recommended a 15-year exemption for new construction. News coverage can be found here.
Rent control will further derail efforts to address housing supply challenges. As Ric Campo, chief executive of Camden Property Trust, noted in the Wall Street Journal article, “Camden will not build in a rent-control market.”
Of course, rent control is not the only barrier to addressing our nation’s supply challenges. A study released earlier in the summer by NMHC and the National Association of Home Builders found that regulations at all levels of government account for an average of 40% of multifamily development costs. The Florida Apartment Association noted that developers are waiting as long as two years to receive building permits. These costs and delays were highlighted in an Orlando Sentinel article last week (password required).
NMHC is continuing to work with on-the-ground stakeholders to push back on efforts to implement rent control and to arm its supporters with the materials they need to echo NMHC’s arguments. For those in states with active battles, please contact NMHC so they can assist with your efforts.
NMHC will share updates as they occur. To stay updated, subscribe to NMHC’s biweekly Growing Homes Together email for the latest news here.
- Rent Control Laws by State
- NMHC Rent Control Update: Multifamily Firms Reconsider Investments in Rent Control Markets
- Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies: America’s Rental Housing 2022 Report
- Massachusetts Hearing Jumpstarts 2022 Rent Control Battles
- Rent Control Update in Massachusetts