Real Estate News

Mayor Wu continues to push for rent control

"This is one part of a larger strategy and our goal is to prevent the extreme increases that have been pushing families out of neighborhoods where we've seen double-digit rent increases."

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Lane Turner/Boston Globe

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu is continuing to advocate for a form of rent control. 

Last week, it was reported that Wu and her team are closing in on a formal proposal to limit rent increases to 10% per year and tie the allowable rent increases in numerous apartment buildings to inflation. 

Buildings opened in the last 15 years would be exempt, as would small, owner-occupied properties like triple-decker houses, The Boston Globe reported. 

Under Wu’s plan, landlords would be able to increase rent by 6% plus the consumer price index, which measures inflation, the Globe reported. The total increase could not exceed 10% in a year, and tenants would be protected by a “just cause” eviction ordinance.

Wu has long been a proponent of rent control, and made it a key part of her mayoral campaign. In an appearance on WBUR’s Radio Boston Monday, Wu said that the current proposal is consistent with previous statements on the issue. It is partly based on rent control strategies implemented by states like Oregon and California.

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But Wu stressed that the current proposal should be seen as just one aspect of the administration’s efforts to mitigate the housing crisis. Even if her rent control plan is approved by City Council and state officials, more work will need to be done to add affordable housing units, she said on WBUR. 

“The purpose of rent stabilization is very specific. It is to stop the harm that is happening when we have too few affordable housing units to match the number of people. We need to add more, and in this transition, as we are looking to boost housing supply and boost home ownership,” Wu told WBUR’s Tiziana Dearing. “This is one part of a larger strategy and our goal is to prevent the extreme increases that have been pushing families out of neighborhoods where we’ve seen double-digit rent increases… it’s harmful for our economy, it’s harmful for our school system. It affects every bit of what we do.”

Rent control was effectively banned by Massachusetts voters in 1994. At the time, the strategy was only being used in Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline. There are numerous obstacles that Wu and her team would have to overcome for this proposal to be implemented, but Wu said she is determined to try. 

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“We have no choice but to try. It is such a dire, destructive housing market out there right now, with people who have spent their whole lives here, who are raising their kids, who are giving back in every single way, getting pushed out not because they’re not fighting to work and pay for what they can afford, but because that shock of a sudden dramatic increase is just not something you can plan for. It’s not something that you can immediately reorient your lives to absorb,” she said on WBUR. 

Gov. Maura Healey recently told attendees of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual conference that she remains committed to tackling the housing issue, and is working to build her administration’s new housing office, GBH News reported. 

When asked about local rent control, Healey said that she continues to believe individual communities should make those decisions. 

Wu, speaking on WBUR, said that the Healey administration is “laser focused” on addressing the housing crisis. 

“This is the foundation of who we are as a city, as a commonwealth, and we are putting forward every possible action that we could to address housing,” Wu said. “This is one important piece of it.” 

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