State senators are traveling Illinois to get input on possibly lifting the state’s’ ban on rent control.
Illinois is one of 35 states with a rent-control ban.
State Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) has a bill in the Senate to lift the ban, which has been in place since 1997 to prevent state and city governments from enacting any measure that would regulate or control rent prices on private residential or commercial property.
Hunter’s measure would establish elected rent control boards in six regions. The boards would regulate rent for households of specified income levels and could restrict annual rent increases to the rate of inflation. They could also create rules on how much notice must be given before rent is increased and would oversee the creation of a reserve account for landlords to pay for repairs and capital improvements.
“Lifting the state rent-control ban is only one of the options that we’re pursuing,” Hunter said at a September hearing in Rockford. “We’re on this statewide tour because it’s important to bring everybody to the table so we can come up with solutions to this crisis.”
The hearings — the latest was held Thursday (Sept. 27) in Chicago — have touched on how rent control can be used as a tool to support rent-burdened households. Rent burdened is defined as spending more than 30 percent of household income on rent.
Statistics show that 37.2 percent of Rockford households and 44 percent of Winnebago County households are rent burdened.
Rich Monocchio, executive director of the Housing Authority of Cook County said that 30 percent of renters in Cook County are using at least 50 percent of their income for rent.
Realtors argue that lifting the rent control ban could result in landlords being unable to raise rents to keep up with rising maintenance costs and higher property taxes.
Greg St. Aubin, senior vice president of government affairs for Illinois Realtors, said rent control could mean people staying in their apartment for up to 20 years, which brought loud cheers from the pro-rent-control audience members at the Chicago hearing.
“It sounds good for you to stay in your unit for 20 years, but what are we doing to tenants? What are we doing to our city, if we go there?” St. Aubin asked. “You are going to freeze everybody in place. We will create and contribute to a permanent, immobile rental class. Is that what is good for renters? No, it is not.”
He said rent control would keep people from moving up and buying homes.
Hunter said that rental units become people’s “safety net” because of regulatory or financial issues.
“It is all they have left,” Hunter said.
St. Aubin said any good city has that quality because it “is vibrant. It’s ever-changing, a city that continues to evolve.”
“What rent control does is try to just shut everything down,” St. Aubin said.
Hunter said the hearings are being held “to gather as much information as we can to help us address the issues of lack of affordable housing and rising rent prices,” Hunter said. “We all want quality communities where people can live and enjoy life. I look forward to continuing this discussion so we can reach that goal.”
—- State ponders lifting rent-control ban —-