Rent Control Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Rent Control, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Rent Control?

Legal restriction that sets how often and how much property rent can be raised.

History and Meaning of Rent Control

Rent control refers to government-enforced policies that regulate the amount of rent a landlord can charge to tenants for the use of their property. Rent control typically sets a limit on how often and how much a landlord can raise rent, and aims to protect tenants from being forced out of their homes due to rapidly rising rents in desirable areas.

Rent control policies were first introduced in the United States during World War II as a means to control inflation and provide affordable housing to those in need. Since then, rent control policies have been implemented in various forms in many cities around the world, with some areas adopting more strict rent control measures than others.

Examples of Rent Control

Here are a few examples of how rent control might be used in different contexts:

  • In San Francisco, rent control policies limit rent increases to a certain percentage each year, but only apply to buildings constructed before 1979.
  • In New York City, rent control laws are much stricter, providing long-term tenants with the right to renew their lease at a regulated rate and requiring landlords to provide certain services and maintain their properties to a minimum standard.
  • In Berlin, Germany, rent control measures were recently introduced to limit rent increases and prohibit landlords from charging excessively high rents for newly renovated apartments.
  • In Tokyo, Japan, rent control is largely non-existent, which contributes to high housing costs and a lack of affordable options for many residents.

Legal Terms Similar to Rent Control

  • Rent stabilization: Similar to rent control, rent stabilization typically sets a limit on how much a landlord can raise rent each year. However, the increase may be tied to the consumer price index or other factors instead of being a fixed percentage.
  • Eviction protections: Laws or policies that protect tenants from being unjustly evicted by landlords or property owners.
  • Affordable housing: Often used to describe housing that is available to low-income or middle-income residents at below-market rates.
  • Just-cause eviction: A policy that requires landlords to have a justifiable reason for evicting a tenant, such as non-payment of rent or damage to the property.