Rent Stabilization bill still yet to be voted out of committee; advocates hold roundtable discussion

Advocates hold roundtable on rent cap bill
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:51 PM EST
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HARTFORD, (WFSB) - A bill that would cap annual rent increases in Connecticut has one last chance to make it out of committee and continue through the legislature.

As lawmakers prepare to take in the issue, a group met Monday to host a roundtable on rent stabilization.

The idea was to get legislators to continue their conversation about rent caps.

Organizers understand this is a complex issue and want lawmakers to truly think about the impact they could have.

Meanwhile, critics say the current bill would do more harm than good.

“We know that rent stabilization is not the end all, be all solution to this housing crisis but it’s a really vital intervention that we need right now to keep people in their homes,” says Luke Melonakos-Harrison, of the CT Tenants Union.

Luke Melonakos-Harrison has been a part of the Cap the Rent CT campaign from the beginning, a campaign that wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would cap annual rent increases.

The bill would cap increases at 4% plus consumer price index, the campaign wants that even lower, if possible, capped to 2.5%.

According to Cap the Rent CT, rent has increased on average by more than 20% statewide over the last two years.

Many landlords have testified their increased rental costs are the result of the pandemic and inflation.

“The rental crisis in CT is out of control right now. And it’s disrupting our communities,” says Melonakos-Harrison.

In a January poll the campaign conducted, they say 72% of CT registered voters showed support for the 2.5% cap.

But the rent stabilization bill has not yet made it out of the housing committee.

Because of that, Cap the Rent CT, along with some lawmakers, hosted a roundtable to keep the issue at the forefront.

A speaker from the National Conference of State Legislatures told the crowd that currently no state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing, particularly for low-income renters.

They also say research has shown rent increases in the past year have impacted middle income renters the most.

“We need rent stabilization so that people can stay in their homes and be part of the community,” says Greta Blau.

Greta Blau helped form the Hamden Tenants’ Union after her new out of state landlord raised rent prices for tenants between 150 up to 700 dollars.

She now says she and other organizers are facing eviction for their work.

The rent stabilization bill would also expand good cause eviction protection, meaning Blau would be safe.

Good Cause Eviction stops landlords from removing tenants from apartments without an order from a judge.

The judge would decide if an eviction were for a good cause, including failure to pay rent or violating terms of the lease..

“We need good cause eviction because people should not have to worry about where they are going to go every year,” says Blau.

Landlords have said capping rents would cut down on housing availability because developers would be less likely to build. Advocates say that’s not true.

The policy makers who spoke Monday say there is not enough empirical research yet to show the true impact of rent stabilization on states and cities that have passed it.

The Housing Committee meets Tuesday.