Some cities have rent controls that place a maximum price on what landlords can charge you for rent. The goal of rent control or rent regulation is to prevent excessive rent increases. Opponents of rent control say the restrictions cause shortages in apartment availability because rents don’t meet the fair market value and landlords can’t make a profit by offering more units. Apartments not subject to rent controls are referred to as "unregulated."
In unregulated, or market-rate, apartments in New York City, for example, landlords may refuse to renew a lease without giving a reason and start eviction proceedings if a tenant does not leave. Apartment owners can change the terms and conditions of a renewed lease and increase the amount of rent to their choosing. They base changes on the economy and the need for rent increases to continue operating their apartments adequately and pay for necessary improvements. New York enforces rent control in New York City and certain New York counties on buildings of a certain size that were built before a certain date, but owners of buildings not covered by these rules can charge the market rate for an apartment rental.
Unregulated apartments still operate under state laws. Your landlord must fulfill promises in the lease agreement, such as making necessary repairs to the heating or air units or installing necessary lighting for the apartment and its surroundings. Your lease agreement is a contract between you and your landlord.
You are protected by eviction notices and actions outlined in state or local regulations. For example, if your landlord has made your rent unaffordable and you don’t have enough time to move, the landlord can’t remove your possessions or prevent you from entering your apartment until getting a judgment against you in a court where you can defend yourself.
State and local regulations may include security measures, such as locks, fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, depending on your location. Although renter's insurance safeguards your possessions, landlords have insurance for the property. You are entitled to repairs or compensation if your belongings have been damaged or you have been injured because the landlord didn't maintain the building up to legal standards -- by not repairing faulty materials or wiring in the building, for example.
- San Francisco Tenants Union: Rent Control Coverage & Rent Increases
- Metropolitan Council on Housing: Renewing Your Lease in an Unregulated (Market-Rate) Apartment?
- Nolo: Tenants’ Rights -- When to Hire a Lawyer
- Library of Economics and Liberty: Rent Control
- Brookings Institute. "What does economic evidence tell us about the effects of rent control?" Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Urban Institute. "Rent Control: What Does the Research Tell Us about the Effectiveness of Local Action?" Page 3. Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
- Oregon State Bar. "Rent Increases." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- National Multifamily Housing Council. "Rent Control Laws by State." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- University of Chicago Initiative on Global Markets. "Rent Control." Accessed Sept. 17, 2020.
Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.