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What is Rent Control

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What is rent control? Rent control refers to a governing body that exerts control over a rent’s ceiling price, or over how much a landlord can increase the rent. Several cities in the US implement rent control including New York City.

What is Rent Control?

In simple words, rent control is practiced in order to keep the rent on apartment units and other residential units low, in an effort to keep housing costs generally affordable for everyone. Rent control is usually practiced in areas where costs of living are higher than the average. The rent ceiling prices are determined by the rent control board.

Rent control laws are in effect in major US cities such as San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., as well as in small cities such as Berkeley and Santa Monica. Rent control laws can also be implemented in mobile-home parks where the land is being rented out by a homeowner. This helps control the high costs of having to move a mobile home.

Before signing a lease agreement, inquire first if the building implements rent control laws. Keep in mind that only certain buildings that were built before a certain specified date are subject to the regulations of rent control. A tenant who leases an apartment that was built after that date cannot receive protection under rent control law. Usually, single family homes and condominiums are also not covered by this law.

Rent control regulations, in addition to keeping rents low, also require landlords to affect the essential repairs needed in order to maintain the safety of a property. This means the building will have to meet specified standards. Should the landlord fail to implement repairs on an apartment building, the law gives the tenant the power to file a petition requesting the rent control agency or board to require the landlord to rectify any problems or issues with the building. If the building is really in a terrible state, the agency or board has the power to take over building management.

Rent control laws may also encourage rent decreases, especially if a landlord fails to provide the tenants with essential services such as security and adequate heating. The rent may also decrease if there is a significant decrease in the demand for housing rentals.

Although the rent control law aims to protect the rights of the tenant, it also comes with its share of negative impacts on society. The rent control law for instance, can create adversarial relations between a landlord and tenant. If an apartment, for instance, is occupied by tenants who are paying low rents, the landlord will have the tendency to act on economic motives such as evicting tenants or converting the space into other commercial establishments to create more profit. Thus, knowing the answer to what is rent control is simple, but deciding whether it is a good thing or not is a much more complex question.

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