At the regular council meeting on February 28, 2023, the PG County Council voted 9-1 in favor of capping rental increases in the county to 3% with some conditions.
- It doesn’t go into effect until 45 days after it was passed, meaning it goes into effect on April 14, 2023.
- The cap does not apply to anyone receiving government housing assistance, or landlords with government contracts.
- It does not apply to any building that is less than 5 years old.
- It does not apply to anyone whose rent went up prior to the bill’s enactment.
- It is only valid for a year from the effective date.
The council stated that this bill is only temporary while they work toward a more permanent form of rent control. Many people have celebrated the move, claiming that this will help renters in poor communities. While that may be true in the short term, especially if you are one of the many who rent in PG County, rent control always has a longer-lasting negative effect on the surrounding community.
The Brookings Institute studied the effects of Rent Control in 2018. They found that landlords who had the funds would often find ways to evict tenants who were taking advantage of the lowered rent, either by moving into the property themselves, selling it off or, in extreme cases, tearing buildings down and rebuilding. Landlords who did not have the funds to renovate or evict would usually stop maintaining the property, citing their lack of funds as the reason. Often, within several years, the number of available rentals in a rent-controlled area would drop by almost a quarter.
It’s not just the renter and rental properties that suffer. Several studies have found that overall property values in rent-controlled areas decrease. So even if you own your home, living in a county under rent control will affect you. Decreased property values mean your property taxes are lower, and while that is a good thing, it also means that the local government will look for ways to raise the property taxes to make up for the loss in their budget. That is exactly what the state found when they studied Montgomery County’s flirtations with rent control. The state found that implementing rent control in MoCo would lead to millions in lost taxes for the government and over 70K job losses for the county, among other issues.
As the Brookings Institute concluded:
“Rent control appears to help affordability in the short run for current tenants, but in the long-run decreases affordability, fuels gentrification, and creates negative externalities on the surrounding neighborhood.”