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US rent-control advocates adjust drive in light of construction lags

(Page 2 of 2)



In Nevada, a state legislative committee has officially recommended that cities and counties be given the power to impose rent controls. In New Jersey, the state supreme court upheld local laws that prohibit rent increases where substandard conditions exist.

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On the other side of the coin, some communities, legislators, and courts are taking action to protect their areas from the negative effects of controls.

In Mountain View Calif., voters turned down rent controls, with 61 percent saying no.

In Florida, a bill that would have given municipalities more freedom to control rents died in the Legislature. In Arizona, the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, a law that reserves the responsibility for the police powers over housing to the state.

A portion of the language used in the new Arizona law states, as follows:

"The state legislature determines that the imposition of rent controls on private residential housing units by cities is of statewide concern. Therefore, the power to control rents on private residential property is preempted by the state."

Richard L. Fore, president of the National Multi-Housing Council, expresses this comment about the Arizona law:

A portion of the language used in the new Arizona law states, as follows:

"The state legislature determines that the imposition of rent controls on private residential housing units by cities is of statewide concern. Therefore, the power to control rents on private residential property is preempted by the state."

Richard L. Fore, president of the National Multi-Housing Council, expresses this comment about the Arizona law:

"Arizona joins Florida in recognizing that housing policy is too important to be subject to capricious political forces. In the face of a nationwide housing crisis, Arizona has acted to assure that it will preserve a free-market incentive to provide housing."

The National Multi-Housing Council is an example of coalitions of groups that are being formed to counter the political pressures generated by tenant groups.

Another recently organized coalition of real-estate groups, with a similar objective, is the Rental Housing Industry Coalition.

Participating in this coalition are the National Association of Realtors, Institute of Real Estate Management, National Apartment Association, Building Owners and Managers Association, National Realty Committee, US League of Savings Associations, National Association of Home Builders, and the Urban Land Institute.

Joseph Murray, chairman of the coalition, explains why so many groups decided to join forces:

"They came together out of a shared concern over both rental-housing shortages and the imposition of legislated controls on rental housing. These controls reduce maintenance of existing rental structures and discourage investment in new rental property."

Tenants will continue to organize and push for rent controls. Indeed, it is their right to do so. The tug-of-war controversy will probably stay around till the end of the decade at least.