Rent control policy

A red graphic reads "The rent* is too damn high." in white cursive-like font with smaller, simpler black words below it saying, "commercial and residential." A key sits to the right of the font, just above the AGH mayoral logo

[Featured Photo ID] On red background, white font read “The rent* is too damn high. *commercial and residential” with a black house key image and the candidate’s logo.

The following are excerpts I wrote for the campaign policy proposal:

…It’s time for rent control. Rent stabilization, if you want to be specific.

While Seattle may have won the fight for $15/hour minimum wages, rising rents have outpaced it. Housing development in the city has also not kept up with job production, meaning rents rise as prospective tenants outbid existing tenants (and each other) for the right to call Seattle home.

Those who can’t afford ever-increasing rents are displaced; forced to live outside of their former communities and to waste time in long, pollution-ridden commutes to work in the city.

Read more of AGH’s policy here!

Adding supply to both rental housing and commercial spaces now will help reduce pressure on rents, but the most effective anti-displacement policy is to stabilize rents. As we recover from a global pandemic that has shown the need for both housing and economic support, we need immediate and effective stability in our homes and for our small businesses. 

My rent control plan will limit rental and commercial increases to “inflation plus 2%” or 4%, whichever is higher.

Commercial rent, too. In this way, we work toward anti-displacement measures for residents, but small businesses as well

Rule-making for this will have to take into account inflation across the life of multi-year leases (which are often triple-net leases) but at the end of the day, what we will create is the predictability …Commercial rent control is also not illegal, only residential currently is.

Studies show rent control limits rent increases effectively in every place it’s implemented (New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, and Oregon)—especially when coupled with closing secondary loopholes that otherwise weaken it and when building significantly more housing. (More on that in my Land Use Reform and Evergreen Building PDA policies.)

To create comprehensive rent control, I will couple it with the following:

  • If or when a unit becomes vacant, rent control still applies for both residential and commercial units. This prevents any incentive for eviction, accelerated gentrification, and any loss of stabilized, affordable housing.
  • Limit removals of stabilized, affordable housing. Tenants should get the “right of first refusal” for any units taken off the market, providing opportunities for renters to become homeowners. Right now, moderate-income households in Seattle can only afford less than 15% of for-sale homes. That’s abysmal, and I will fix it.
  • Capping major capital improvements at reasonable rates so that they are timely, match the actual cost of repairs, reduce fraud, and discourage harassment and displacement. Improvement surcharges, then, must also have clear procedures for tenant notification, contestation, and review.
  • Restricting owner’s and owner’s-relatives’ move-in provisions by prohibiting it for vulnerable tenants, having property owners apply for approval, allowing contestation of application and, should it go through, providing relocation assistance. Right now, landlords can evict tenants if they claim they or their relatives want to move in to one of their currently-occupied units.

People can strawman that rent control restricts housing supply all they want, but studies say otherwise. In fact, in New Jersey, it increased rental housing supply. 

Rent control is the proven harm reduction we need. We know it works. Let’s use rent control to protect tenants and small businesses from rental price gouging by scheduling reasonable and gradual increases. We all deserve the opportunity to thrive. Rent control promotes neighborhood stability and makes sure Seattleites can Stay in Seattle.

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