12 at the Capitol: Tenants and landlords battle over proposed rent cap

Under a new bill in Connecticut, rent could not go up at all in the first year of a lease.

John Craven

Feb 21, 2023, 10:23 PM

Updated 456 days ago


Rents are skyrocketing, but should Connecticut pass a rent stabilization law? Hundreds of tenants and landlords faced off Tuesday night before state lawmakers.
“Tenants need the protection of rent stabilization now,” housing advocates said at a morning news conference.
Statewide, rents are up 20% in the last two years – and more than 22,000 tenants were evicted last year – according to the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.
“We worked with one person – they were trying to increase his rent $1,500,” said Paul Boudreaux with the Hamden Tenant Union. “It was a 75% increase.”
Rent caps are common in New York and big cities like Washington, D.C. Under a new bill in Connecticut, rent could not go up at all in the first year of a lease. After that, increases would be capped at 4% plus inflation. Tenants would also get at least three months' notice of any increase.
But during a marathon legislative hearing, landlords said rent caps will simply lead to higher base rents and even fewer units on the market.
“The problem in Connecticut is that we have a shortage of housing,” said Lauren Tagliatela with Franklin Communities. “So, if we are able to build more housing, you're going to have more competition and you're going to have lower prices.”
Property owners said they’re already struggling to keep up with inflation.
“What's going to happen is, apartments are going to be listed much higher now because the landlord will be very wary about taking a chance on a tenant,” said state Rep. Joe Polletta (R-Watertown). “What we've seen in other states is that rent caps do not work because they create an awful relationship between the tenant and the landlords, so it's bad for both sides.”
The bill would also ban rent hikes during a public health emergency like COVID. Connecticut’s emergency is still in effect three years into the pandemic.
Meantime, some tenants say the bill doesn't go far enough. They want rent hikes capped at 3%, plus a ban on “no fault” evictions.
“Our utilities have gone up, our taxes have gone up, our rent is going up,” said Greta Blau with the Hamden Tenant Union.
Nearly 400 people signed up to testify before the legislature’s Housing Committee. Testimony was expected to continue all night after the hearing was delayed for five hours due to a massive internet outage.
The committee is expected to vote on whether to advance the proposal in the next few weeks.

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