By Bob Katzen
The House 23-136, rejected an amendment that would repeal the 1994 law that prohibits rent control from being implemented by local cities and towns. Rent control places limits on the rent that a landlord may charge. The Bay State outlawed rent control on a 1994 voter-approved ballot question that was approved 51 percent to 49 percent. At that time, only Boston, Cambridge and Brookline had implemented rent control.
The amendment sponsor Rep. Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) said that allowing rent control would make it possible for cities and towns to bring everyone to the table, homeowners, and landlords alike, to craft tenant protections, including rent control, that make sense and are fair on the local level. “While the governor’s Housing Choice proposal will help ensure that all of our communities do their part to support the production of new, multifamily housing, this amendment is important because it would provide municipalities with flexible options to help stop displacement as new housing comes online,” said Connolly.
Amendment opponents said rent control leads to some landlords losing money on rentals which results in landlords no longer wanting to rent out their apartments at the new lower prices. They noted that this, in turn, decreases the supply of rental housing on the market. They said that since rent control ended in 1994, the House has continuously worked to make rents more affordable by supporting housing production and affordable housing initiatives.
In the meantime, the Legislature’s Housing Committee has endorsed a separate bill (H 3924), filed by Rep. Connolly that would allow rent control in Massachusetts.