With the mid-term elections behind us, it’s a good time to recap the status of rent control across the country. The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) is tracking 23 states that have such proposals or laws in play.
NMHC points out that this year, the issue even gained traction at the federal level, with tenant advocates urging President Biden to issue an executive order mandating rent caps on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The “flawed policy” failed in 2022 with the exception of California, Maine and New York cities, NMHC said. In 2023, it poses that Massachusetts is the top threat to enacting it.
“We anticipate significant activity in state legislatures in the coming year and a continued effort at the federal level to push the Biden administration to issue an Executive Order (which would not require Congressional approval),” NMHC writes.
“Whether or not these measures are enacted, they will get media attention and, as such, pose a reputational threat to the apartment industry at a minimum.”
Following is a recap of NMHC’s tracking of the cities and states considering rent control measures that have been placed in Tier 1, 2 and 3 categories.
Colorado: Rent control legislation is regularly introduced in Colorado. To date, such efforts have stalled.
Florida: The Sunshine State maintains statewide preemption on rent control. The preemption law, however, includes an exemption via a successful local ballot initiative allowing for a one-year rent regulation. NMHC expects measures to be introduced in the legislature to revoke preemption, but given the way the current law is written, the real action may take place at the local level.
Lawmakers in St. Petersburg and Tampa, and Orange County and other cities and counties may again pursue workarounds to rent control preemption.
Illinois: In Illinois, rent control is seemingly an annual issue in the state legislature. Efforts have failed to date, but should resurface.
Maryland: The real action here is at the county level where efforts to impose rent control in Montgomery County are expected to continue.
Massachusetts: In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu made rent control a central theme of her candidacy in 2021 and has since been working to push state lawmakers to revoke its statewide rent control preemption. She now has a more sympathetic ally in Governor-elect Maura Healey, who has signaled that she would support revoking preemption.
Nevada: Rent control supporters were dealt a blow when sitting governor, Steve Sisolak, lost his election to Republican Joe Lombardo. Still, NMHC expects a strong push in the state legislature, which only convenes in odd-numbered years.
Washington State: Legislation to lift rent control preemption is regularly introduced by state lawmakers at the behest of local lawmakers in Seattle.
Connecticut: A bill to create a study to explore rent control did not gain any traction, but supporters may make another push next year.
Hawaii: Multiple state lawmakers in Hawaii introduced rent control measures. These bills failed to get a vote.
Michigan: After flipping both the State Senate and State House, Michigan Democrats now control the legislature and the governor’s chair. Democrats have introduced bills to repeal rent control preemption during past sessions.
New Mexico: In 2022, the Albuquerque City Council rejected a measure asking state lawmakers to lift rent control preemption.
Rhode Island: A bill that would have limited rent increases to no more than four percent annually failed in 2022 but may be reintroduced in 2023.
Arizona: While the focus of Governor-elect Katie Hobbs’ (D) plan largely prioritizes initiatives to spur development and incentives for low-income residents, it is a state worth watching for rent control activism.
Kentucky: In 2022, bills were introduced but not passed. They could be reintroduced in 2023, though passage is unlikely given the Republican composition of the legislature.
North Carolina: The state currently maintains statewide preemption on rent control and Republicans control both houses of the legislature.
Pennsylvania: A Republican-led Senate makes it difficult for rent control measures to pass, including from 2022 that would impose statewide rent control limiting rent increases to the lower of five percent plus the change in cost of living or 10 percent.
South Carolina: Passage of failed legislation from 2022 in 2023 is unlikely given the conservative composition of the state government.
California: Voters in three California cities – Pasadena, Richmond and Santa Monica – approved rent control measures on the 2022 ballot. Further expansion is possible.
Maine: Portland voters approved a rent control measure on the 2022 ballot. The South Portland City Council is also expected to take up rent control in 2023.
Minnesota: After a 2021 ballot initiative, St. Paul implemented rent control this past year and quickly witnessed a dramatic decline in development, forcing city leaders to amend the policy. Minneapolis voters also gave their city council the ability to implement rent control in 2021, though local officials have yet to adopt it.
New Jersey: The City of Perth Amboy adopted rent control this year. Additional cities could take up the issue in 2023.
New York: Kingston became the first upstate city in New York to adopt rent control. However, a State Supreme Court judge blocked the city from putting it into effect.
Oregon: While lawmakers in Oregon enacted statewide rent control in 2019, they continue to explore ways to address the state’s housing affordability challenges.