Rent control maintains the affordability of existing housing stock as reinvestment occurs, stabilizing existing tenants so that they, too, will benefit from improved neighborhoods, along with landlords, developers, and new residents.
Renters are particularly vulnerable to displacement in times of gentrification. In disinvested communities, rents are often low due to poor housing stock. When reinvestment occurs, landlords often sell their property or significantly increase rents to benefit from the changing market. In either case, tenants with modest incomes are displaced.
Additional benefits from using this tool include:
Beyond considering rent control as a new tool, communities that already have rent control must be vigilant in defending it. In Massachusetts, the cities of Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge had rent control until 1994, when it was abolished through a public referendum. Following the end of rent control, rents in gentrifying neighborhoods increased from 50-100 percent, displacing thousands of local residents and exacerbating the existing affordability crisis.