"True" rent control laws (also known as "rent stabilization") are local ordinances which set regulations concerning rent levels and evictions of tenants. A local board determines the rent levels by a number of factors, including:
Cost of living
Consumer price index or CPI (weighted average of prices in urban areas)
Rental unit type
When a unit is vacant in a true rent control area, the maximum rent a landlord can raise the amount is based on the level set by the board. Commonly, these levels are below market value. Once a tenant has signed a lease, the landlord is limited by law in how much he can increase the rent annually. Therefore, the longer a tenant stays in a rent control unit, the rental payment becomes less, relative to the tenant’s income and to the market value of the unit.
Rent control laws are known primarily for favoring tenant’s rights, because these laws help stabilize rent levels. Typically, landlords do not favor rent control laws because it can greatly limit returns on their investment property. Some states have passed vacancy decontrol regulations to protect landlords.
Vacancy decontrol regulations set rent at market or near market levels when a unit is vacant and regulates the raising of rent. In some cases, vacancy decontrol gives guidelines as to how high (for example, 10%) of the maximum previous rent on the unit, which take effect when a new tenant signs the lease.
In terms of raising rent levels for existing tenants, vacancy decontrol regulates rent increases by:
Percentage of existing rent
Consumer price index or CPI
Based on tenant’s household income
If you are a tenant, rent control units are desirable commodities and you should consider looking in areas where rent control is practiced. An experienced landlord tenant lawyer in your area can advise you of the local ordinances and your rights as a tenant.
As a landlord, you should be aware of the regulations that will affect your rights and investments. An experienced real estate lawyer in your area can advise you of the local laws to ensure that you are within your rights when increasing rent levels.