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Rent control in Arizona? Laws that would limit rent increases

Posted at 10:56 AM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 21:36:20-04

PHOENIX — If you're a renter, you know it's been a tough couple of years.

Valley rents increased by 30% in 2021 and are still on pace for similar increases this year. Is it time to consider limiting what landlords can charge?

Rent control is a divisive topic with very strong opinions on both sides.

State Senator Martin Quezada hopes this year things change. "We proposed a bill that would limit the amount of rent increases," he stated.

Quezada represents the Arizona's Legislative District 29.

While he says his previous rent control bills have gone nowhere, he hopes this year the timing is right.

"I'm having person after person telling me they can't afford their rent and they have no other place to go," Quezada said.

SB 1587 would cap rent increases yearly at 5% plus the cost of inflation or 10% whichever is lower.

If the highest you paid for rent in the past 12 months is $1,600, the biggest increase you'd see is $160.

So, what about rent control in other states?

A new California law allows just a 5% rent increase plus inflation costs statewide.

More than 100 cities nationwide also have rent control. But in Arizona, there's a law that prevents that.

State statute 33-1329 states "cities or towns shall not have the power to control rents."

It states that power is "preempted by the state" unless that residential property is owned or subsidized by the city.

A bill in the State House tried to change that.

It's HB 2401 sponsored by State Rep Christian Solorio (District 30) and would repeal what takes away city power over rent controls.

The bill did not go far.

Quezada says his bill hasn't even gotten a hearing and neither did similar bills he sponsored for the last few years.

He says the 5% and 10% rent increase limit it proposes, isn't set in stone. "Those numbers are really starting off numbers to really just start this debate," he said.

The pushback is strong from those saying the rising rent solution comes from building more housing.

They say capping rents and what landlords can charge will lead to less interest in building new rental housing.

Others use a free-market argument saying landlords should be able to set any price, renters can either pay or pass and find a more suitable place.

But, Quezada says with the current market, that does not work. "That completely disregards the lack of housing that's available for Arizonans right now and there's simply no other options," he stated.

If action isn't taken very soon, Quezada believes SB 1587 will die like the others.

Let your legislator know what you think.

Here is contact information for all Arizona Senators and Representatives.

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