Despite repeated efforts, the rent control initiative is unlikely to appear on the 2024 ballot. Advocates, having gathered only 10,000 of the necessary 74,000 signatures, face a significant shortfall. Key proponents of the rent control initiative have ceased efforts to meet the signature requirement with only a few days remaining. There still appears to be significant unpopularity to bringing back rent control measures that were previously quite harmful to the State of Massachusetts and led to its repeal.
However, this is not a signal of retreat on the part of some parties seeking to gain power through bad policy. Instead, well-meaning but misguided proponents of rent control and supporting activists are redirecting their focus towards advancing their agenda through the Massachusetts legislature. This shift in strategy requires our immediate attention and action.
An important legislative event is on the horizon. The Joint Committee on Housing is set to convene a hearing Today, November 14, starting at 11 AM. This hearing will delve into a myriad of housing-related proposals, including rent control (H1304, H3777) and the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). In total, 30 housing bills will be under scrutiny. You can watch the hearing at this link.
This hearing presents a pivotal opportunity for our city. We strongly encourage property owners, brokers, real estate agents, and any members of the real estate community to actively participate in this process. Your voices are vital in preventing measures that could adversely impact property rights and the overall well-being of our neighborhoods.
Many are already signed up to testify at the hearing today- and we thank them. However, if you are not signed up to testify we still encourage you to reach out to your representatives and make your voice heard. The stakes are high, and the outcomes of this legislative session could have far-reaching implications for our businesses and communities. We must unite to advocate for our property rights and express our collective concerns regarding rent control and TOPA.
For a more comprehensive understanding of rent control, please read our article- Rent Control in Boston: What You Need to Know.
Rent control’s track record across the nation is marked by consistent failures. In Massachusetts, its implementation led to unfavorable outcomes on countless levels, prompting its eventual repeal. Though rent control might seem beneficial for tenants initially, it fails to address nor improve fundamental factors contributing to the current housing affordability crisis. Previous rent control measures in Massachusetts ultimately led to a deteriorated housing stock with fewer choices and greater health and safety concerns. Currently, the spiraling costs of energy, labor, insurance premiums, taxes, consumer goods and maintenance requests are substantially hampering landlords. Implementing rent control would unfairly and disproportionately affect property owners, who had nothing to do with this insidious inflationary environment.
Cities throughout the country that have implemented rent control have seen precipitous declines in the number of building permits issued. When less permits are applied for and issued, it creates less supply, and ultimately ends up driving up the price of both rental pricing and home ownership. Rent control significantly reduces the motivation for developers to invest in new housing projects. This decreased supply also leads to an older housing stock that makes it less desirable for people to stay in the state of Massachusetts. Rent control also creates the insidious problem of landlords not being able to put money back into properties over time due to their capital being limited. Rent control results in lower quality housing with a greater propensity of health and safety violations.
Instead, alternative strategies such as zoning reform and the simplification of permitting and construction processes need to be prioritized. These approaches have the potential to increase housing availability, benefiting both housing providers and tenants. We advocate for a stronger focus on boosting housing development by supporting developers in various ways, and we urge the legislature to put a greater focus on these alternative measures.
Our goal remains, and will always be, to provide renters with as many housing options as possible while simultaneously upholding and defending owners’ inalienable private property rights. We count on your support and active engagement in safeguarding the interests of property owners and fostering the prosperity of our communities. Together, we can make a difference.
Published November 14, 2023
Demetrios has pulled together the largest apartment leasing team in the Greater Boston Area and is responsible for procuring more apartment rentals than anyone in New England – with over 130k people finding their housing through his services. Demetrios is an avid real estate developer, peak performance trainer, educator, guest lecturer and motivational speaker.