With homeownership decreasing, more people are looking to rent.  However, just trying to find a place to live can be incredibly difficult.  Between finding a location that’s close to work/friends/family etc., at a cost you can afford, and one that just “feels right,” few people are in a hurry to move out of their home after their initial rental term ends.  However, in today’s economy, with a stronger demand for rental units, landlords are chomping at the bit to raise their rates.  This is where rent control and rent stabilization come into play

What Is Rent Control Or Rent Stabilization?

In some states there are rent control laws and regulations (like New York, California and Washington D.C.).  Rent control generally refers to limit the amount a landlord can increase the rent by every year.  For example, in many areas of California, a landlord can only increase the rent by 4% every year.  Rent control isn’t exactly a new idea, it began during World War I in order to keep rents low while many were at war, but continues to remain popular in areas where there is enough rental property.  Today, rent control has spread from more than just focusing on the amount of money charged per month, but also creates certain standards for landlords.  Landlords have complained that rent control has some unintended consequences, especially when a tenant fails to pay because they must state specific reasons for eviction.  Additionally, any complaint by a tenant about the property will generally need to go through some type of board hearing. However, the landlords do usually receive tax benefits for the rent control.

Rent stabilization is relatively similar to rent control in that a landlord is prohibited from raising rents too high, tenants are entitled to certain services and that most complaints go through a board.

What Should You Do If You Think Your Landlord Violated The Rent Stabilization Law?

The first step is to talk to the responsible board (usually your city or county has a specific rent control board).  They board will investigate any claims you may have and be able to make a ruling.  Most boards are able to levy fines against the owner.  Additionally, the board may be able to reduce your rent if services aren’t maintained or if you are overcharged for rent.