Councilmembers Plan to Introduce Two Different Bills to Provide Rent Stabilization

Two groups of members of the County Council plan to introduce bills that are intended to control the rising cost of rent in area housing; one bill would add funding for housing assistance.

Councilmembers Natali Fani-González (D-District 6), Andrew Friedson (D-District 1), Gabe Albornoz (D-At Large), Marilyn Balcombe (D-District 2), Sidney Katz (D-District 3) and Dawn Luedtke (D-District 7) will introduce a tenant assistance and protection act.

One component of the package would be a cap on maximum rental increases in multi-unit buildings at 8% plus inflation (based on the consumer price index).

The legislation also would provide “a 15-year exemption for new construction and provides an allowance for building owners undergoing major renovations or financial hardship to ensure safe and dignified housing,” according to a press release.

Supporters also propose $4.5 million in funding to support first-time homebuyers, “with $1.5 million allocated homeowners who are most at risk of losing their homes.” Funds would come from the 2022 American Rescue Plan Act.

The sponsors also are asking County Executive Marl Elrich to provide an additional $18 million for the county Rental Assistance Program, which would bring the total to $30 million.

Councilmembers Will Jawando (D-At Large) and Kristen Mink (D-District 5), with Elrich’s support, plan to introduce the Housing Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity Act.

The HOME Act would cap allowable annual rent increase for units to follow the Voluntary Rent Guidelines, or 3%, whichever is lower.

“The Act would exempt certain buildings from rent increase requirements, including newly constructed units for ten years and units connected to government programs, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and owner-occupied units,” according to a press release.

“The HOME Act also permits landlords to request a fair return increase, establishes an excise tax on rental units that remain vacant for more than a year, and funds affordable housing acquisitions,” the release adds.

“With our renting population and income inequality both continuing to increase, this is a common sense measure to provide stability and consistency for everybody, our renters, landlords and developers,” said Jawando.

“Ultimately, rent stabilization is about stable homes, stable communities and equity. This bill gives renters protection from unnecessary rent increases awhile ensuring that property owners are able to maintain their property and continue to earn a profit,” Elrich added. “I support this bill, will advocate for its passage, and look forward to signing it into law.”

Photo: © fuzzbones – stock.adobe.com

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