Why do renters deserve rent control? How can rent control be fair to property owners?

There has been a lot of misinformation put out about rent control. Some say it will hurt the economy, hurt renters and destabilize neighborhoods. Then why does Sacramento Housing Alliance support rent control? Why last week did we, with our fellow Housing 4 Sacramento coalition members, turn in sufficient petition signatures to get a local rent control/just cause ordinance on the 2020 ballot? And why are we supporting Proposition 10 on this November’s ballot?

We support rent control because our local stable housing market has been undermined by speculation, by corporate owners of rental properties leading the market with high rent increases, by a shortage of rental housing, and by an influx of home buyers and renters with more cash assets than long time Sacramento residents. Sacramento residents who rent are being priced out of the housing market and are being displaced because of huge and frequent rent increases. Sacramento renters who have modest incomes are being evicted or forced into homelessness because when they can no longer afford to stay in their homes, they cannot find alternative housing elsewhere. Affordable housing development has almost come to a standstill because of a lack of local financial capital subsidies and weakened inclusionary housing programs.

Renters deserve rent control — our neighborhoods deserve rent control — because stable homes are the foundation of healthy lives and communities. Because if you work hard raising a family, work a stable job, pay your rent on time and are respectful of your landlord’s property and your neighbors, you should be able to stay in your home with only modest rent increases, not much higher than cost of living index increases.

But what if a rental property owner cannot afford to operate a property with just modest rent increases paid by the tenant? Typically, in a jurisdiction with a rent control ordinance, there is an appointed citizen’s board that will review any special requests to ensure that the housing stock is maintained in a healthy and sustainable manner. Property owners are provided with a fair return on their investment through annual reasonable rent increases. By being fair to both renters and property owners, the housing market becomes more affordable to both renters and home buyers and neighborhoods gain stability.

It is time to stabilize the rental housing market in jurisdictions throughout California, including in Sacramento. All renters and people who want stable and healthy neighborhoods can vote YES on Proposition 10 this November to allow jurisdictions to set rent control measures that are effective for all types of rentals, including single family homes. Proposition 10 repeals a state law that limited the ability of local governments to establish meaningful rent controls that reflect the specific needs and challenges in their communities.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has introduced a temporary rent control proposal that could help reign in rent increases for many renters. The proposal would be in effect for three years until voters have an opportunity to approve a stronger rent control and renter protections ballot measure in 2020. We hope our representatives on City Council act quickly to stabilize our local housing market by voting in support of the Mayor’s interim rent control proposal.

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