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What Is Rent Control and Which States Have It?

You can only find regulated rent prices in New York, New Jersey, California, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.—all other states prohibit or ignore rent controls.

The rent for most apartments changes when one lease term ends and another begins. In cities with low vacancy rates, it's much more likely to go up rather than down. The point of rent control is to minimize this for certain apartments—if a rental unit is "controlled," then the landlord can only raise the rent by a certain percentage when it's time to sign a new lease. Rent control laws also hold landlords accountable for providing basic services and renewing leases with existing tenants, even if they don't want to.

Which states have rent control?

Rent control and stabilization is, for obvious reasons, unpopular among landlords and their allies. Only a handful of states have laws in place: New York, California, New Jersey, and Oregon. Washington, D.C. also has local rent control laws. Choose your state from the dropdown menu at the top of the page to find out more about the rules where you rent.

As of 2019, 36 states don't allow cities to establish local rent control policies. On the other hand, places like Nebraska, Montana, Ohio, West Virginia, Hawaii, Maine, and Pennsylvania don't limit local governments—but still have no rent control laws in place.1 That means that a town or city in these states would be able to pass rent control legislation if they wanted to, but they haven't done so yet.

What about cities?

Rent control is often regulated on a city-wide level. In California, both San Francisco and Los Angeles have their own rules. And, of course, probably the most famous rent-regulation program in the United States is in New York City, where nearly half of the apartments are rent-regulated in some way.

Does "rent stabilized" mean something different?

"Rent stabilized" means the same thing as "rent controlled" everywhere except New York City—where housing is so complicated and in such short supply that lawmakers came up with two different methods of keeping rent hikes at bay.

[1] "Local Tools to Address Housing Affordability: A State-by-State Analysis" National League of Cities (2020)

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.