Rent control protects tenants in privately owned residential properties from excessive rent increases by mandating reasonable and gradual rent increases, while at the same time ensuring that landlords receive a fair return on their investment. Sometimes called rent leveling or rent stabilization, rent control helps to prevent displacement in booming economic cycles.
Community organizing led to the enactment of rent control laws in almost 175 municipalities across the nation by the early 1980s. During the more conservative political climate of the past two decades, rent control has been weakened by landlords and the real estate lobby. Today, rent control survives in approximately 140 jurisdictions. In escalating real estate markets such as Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Hoboken (New Jersey), and other cities where neighborhoods are anticipating or experiencing rampant gentrification, rent control is re-emerging in policy debates as an effective tool for maintaining affordability and preventing tenant displacement.