Renters, tenants clash over bill that would cap annual rent increases

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 11:37 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:41 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Angry tenants and frustrated landlords spent more than 8 hours at a public hearing over a propose cap on annual rent increases.

The hearing on Tuesday in Hartford was not only extremely long, but also became pretty heated.

Supporters of House Bill 6588 want rent increases to be capped.

Others spoke out against the bill and argued it would be bad for Connecticut.

The public hearing was supposed to start at 10 a.m. but didn’t start until 3 p.m. due to an internet outage at the State Capitol.

“I’m one of the many residents hurt financially by the rent increase,” said Victoria Ramos with the Hartford Tenants Union.

The legislature’s housing committee is the body currently taking up House Bill 6588.

Before the public hearing began, advocates spoke in support of the legislation, which included a 4-percent cap on annual rent increases.

“We are here today to stand in support of House Bill 6588. Because we know that there is a housing crisis in CT. And tenants need protection of rent stabilization now,” said Pastor Bea Santiago with the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance.

Supporters of the rent stabilization bill also wanted the legislation to include good cause eviction protections.

“No cause evictions are often motivated by discrimination or are in retaliation for a tenant asking for something to be fixed or organizing with their neighbors,” said Sarah White with the Connecticut Fair Housing Center.

Not everyone was in support of the legislation.

“We do not agree with rent caps for the mere reason that they have not worked in places around the country where they have been enacted,” said Rep. Joe Polletta, a Republican who represents the state’s 68th District.

Representatives of the Connecticut Apartment Association also spoke out against the bill.

“It’s bad for Connecticut. It’s bad for the economy, it’s bad for our industry and actually our residents. And I know, it sounds like a really quick solution to the affordability problem but it has a lot of unintended consequences,” said Lauren Tagliatela, Chief Community Officer at Franklin Communities.

In addition, landlords said they don’t want to increase rent, but inflation has been hitting them.

“At some point we’ve got to be able to make up these expenses. Everything is going through the roof. Food, energy, building materials, contracts for labor. You name it, it’s through the roof,” said landlord John Souza and president of Connecticut Coalition of Property Owners.

Renters in Connecticut saw average rent increases of 20 percent in the last two years, and some areas experienced 30 to 40 percent increases.

“Yes, everything is more expensive right now, but that’s not all that’s going on with rent increases,” one renter at the rally told Channel 3. “We saw a shift in our housing market during the pandemic as more corporate out-of-state landlords brought properties in Connecticut and took advantage of the pandemic, the tight market and higher than usual inflation to jack up rents and increase their profits.”

A total of 379 people signed up to speak at Tuesday’s hearing.

Read Channel 3′s I-Team investigation about how renters can contact their local Fair Rent Commission here.

The I-Team’s report on what people can do if they face eviction can be found here.