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Benefits of Rent Controlled Apartments

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Rent controlled apartments are features of the rental market that are seen mostly in downtown areas of larger cities in the country, such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Put in place after World War I, the idea was to offer some protection for new renters against abusive rent increases. Rent controlled apartments offer some advantages that go far beyond the price of the apartment that renters may want to consider:

  • Limit rent increases. The main feature of rent controlled apartments is a set of regulations that prohibit the apartment owner from freely increasing rents. While rents were actually frozen in many older apartment complexes in New York, Chicago and elsewhere, the more recent rules on rent control put limits in place. It's common that landlords only have the right to raise rents once a year, and often, the percentage increase is tied to a government index that tracks the change in the cost of living. However, landlords are able to get some relief from rent control by increasing other fees and charges. In many cities, landlords can pass along the costs of utility increases, as well as the cost of improvements to the apartment building.
  • Protection from eviction. This protection was included years ago in most cities with rent controlled apartments. As landlords saw rent increases were significantly limited while tenants remained in their apartments, some tried to find ways to evict tenants to raise the rent for the next tenant. Now, most cities with rent control have regulations that require a landlord to follow a somewhat complicated process in order to evict a tenant.
  • Grievance procedure. Another current feature of rent control is a grievance procedure spelled out in writing to benefit the tenant. Basic obligations of the landlord also are listed in detail in most cities with rent control. Rent control boards have been created in many cities to hear complaints against landlords on things like a noise issue ignored or a repair that was not handled properly.

Issues to Be Aware of with Rent Controlled Apartments

  • Apartment improvements. Critics of rent controlled apartments argue that landlords have little incentive to make improvements to apartments because their income is limited over time due to rent control. Also, landlords can only make improvements when an apartment is vacant, and rent control encourages tenants to stay for the long-term.
  • Eviction efforts. Critics of rent control also argue that frustration with rent control can cause some landlords to find ways to evict tenants who enjoy low rents in order to bring in new tenants at a higher rent.
  • Low-income complexes. Rent controlled apartments tend to become filled with renters who are taking advantage of suppressed rents and may not be able to live elsewhere. In the meantime, richer tenants are able to live in luxury apartments that generally are not rent controlled.

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