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Where To Get Information About Rent Control

What is Rent Control?

Rent control refers to laws and ordinances that restrict the rent that landlords can charge tenants. They determine the price ceiling for rent rates by limiting the rate by which the landlords can increase the money that hey charge for the use as well as occupancy of their property. They also limit reason for eviction. In the United States of America, the rent control laws have been around since World War I and II. They were introduced as a response to economic pressure and shortages. As of now, the rent control laws that are available are either leftover laws of what applied back in the day or new laws that have been re-introduced by different states according to residents’ needs. The most important thing to keep in mind is that rent control laws can vary widely from one county to another and from one state to another.

Which States In the U.S. Have Rent Control?

Even with the importance that rent control laws carry, they are not everywhere in the United States. A number of municipalities, including Los Angeles and New York, which are two largest cities in the United States, have rent control laws. Other than California and New York in which Los Angeles and New York City are found, other states that have rent control include New Jersey, The District of Columbia and Maryland. Seattle has been considering enacting the rent control laws but up to now it has not been able to do that.

(For more information on the cities that have rent control and those that don’t, check out http://www.landlord.com/rent_control_laws_by_state.htm)

Each city in the above-mentioned states handles rent control differently. For instance Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are all in California, have different rent control laws. Some of the factors that are used to regulate the rent charges include the building age and size as well as how long the tenant has been living in the unit.

(Check out the following report from Trulia.com for more information on how different cities handle rent control: http://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/rent-control-sf-nyc/)

Rent Control Is NOT Rent Stabilization

You should not confuse rent control with rent stabilization because the two are different. New York State is especially complicated in terms of rent rules. It has approximately 27,000 rent controlled apartments and close to a million stabilized units. In this state, rent control sets a cap on rent and it covers older buildings that were built in1947 and back. However, in some special circumstances, there are apartments that are put under rent control because the tenant or the tenant’s lawful successor such as a spouse, family member or lifetime partner has been continuously living in the apartment since July 1st, 1971.

(Visit www.nycrgb.org/html/resources/faq/rentcontrol.html for more information)

Rent stabilization on the other hand applies to buildings that were built 1947 and 1974. It sets limits on how much a landlord is allowed to raise the rent and gives tenants the right to re-apply or renew their lease afresh. One of the major importances of having a rent stabilized building is that is that your lease has to be renewed according to the law.

Does Rent Control Mean Your Rent Will Never Go Up?

Absolutely not. Rent control does not in any way mean that your rent will be locked in forever. What it does is to simply put parameters on the amount that landlords can hike your rent when your lease needs to be renewed. Even though the formulas differ from one city to another, they are usually pegged to the cost of living metric or a local inflation.

Can Rent Control Be Affected By Your Income?

Unlike subsidized housing, rent control does not have any income caps for potential renters. This means that rent control will not be affected by your income. If you are looking for a subsidized property, that is where you will need to keep in mind how much you make per month before your eligibility is determined. However, there are some outliers that you need to keep in mind when looking for a rent controlled building. If you earn a sizable salary per month, it is imperative that you check with the local rules before you make your move. Even though landlords are supposed to let you know if the apartment or building you are interested in is rent controlled, you should not rely on them. Check with your city’s rent control board for clear and intuitive information.