Rent control initiatives to get new life in Springfield next year
Rent control initiatives in Springfield were stranded when the 2018 regular legislative session ended on May 31, but landlords and property managers in Illinois anticipate a more aggressive push when the General Assembly convenes in January 2019.
“Housing Action Illinois and the other groups pushing for this will continue to work hard all summer and into the fall in preparation for next year,” Paul Arena, legislative director for the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association, told Prairie State Wire.
Three of the four bills left hanging would have repealed the Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997, which prohibits municipalities in Illinois from enacting rent control ordinances. A fourth bill would have established rent control boards on the county level.
State Rep. William Guzzardi (D-Chicago), introduced the repeal act in the House (HB 2430), arguing that rapid gentrification of some Chicago neighborhoods has made them unaffordable for many long-time residents. A majority of voters in some Chicago wards likewise favor repealing the ban, according to the results of a non-binding question that appeared on the March 20 primary ballot in those wards. And Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker, who leads incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in the polls, has said he supports repealing the ban.
But Arena said rent restrictions would squash investments in the housing industry, especially in Chicago.
“It might be motivated by good intentions but economically rent control makes no sense,” he said. “You can’t bring these neighborhoods back without the investments and that means rent increases in many cases.”
Arena added that proponents of rent control fail to weigh in all the factors driving up costs for landlords, especially skyrocketing property taxes. Illinois already has the highest property taxes in the nation, and with a public pension debt of $130 billion, additional increases are almost certainly on the way.
Last week Housing Action Illinois released a report that concluded that renters have to earn more than $20 an hour just to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois.
But Arena said while that conclusion might be true for certain parts of Chicago, it doesn’t hold for all of Illinois.
“I have nice two-bedroom places in Rockford that go for $650 a month,” he said. “By my calculations, you could earn $13.50 an hour and afford to live in these places.”