Illinois House could consider allowing cities to impose rent control policies

Washington-DC

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois House of Representatives could soon debate whether or not to lift a statewide ban that prevents cities and local governments from instituting rent control policies that cap how high or how fast landlords can raise costs on tenants.

“I believe that housing is a basic right that we have the guarantee to everybody,” state representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) said. His measure to lift the ban on rent control cleared the Housing Committee late last month, though not every Democrat voted for it.

“Everybody needs a roof over their head,” Guzzardi said. “And in the richest country in the history of the world, we can provide a roof over the head for everybody. And we can make sure that there’s profit in it for the people who are providing that housing. There’s certainly plenty of profit in it these days. And I think we can continue to assure that while also making sure that everyone in our community has a place to stay, and that nobody’s sleeping out under the viaduct.”

Guzzardi, who co-chairs the Illinois House Progressive Caucus, responded to arguments from developers or homeowners who may feel the government shouldn’t have a role in dictating what they can charge for property they own.

“If you think of housing as a commodity, as something that should be exchanged in the free market; and there should be winners and losers, and some people should have it, and some people shouldn’t; and this is the price of the commodity, and if you can pay it great, and if you can’t, tough break, see you on the street; if that’s your perspective on the issue, then you’re not going to think that rent control is very good idea,” he said.

“We know that property taxes are increasing, we know that the cost of water and utilities goes up,” Guzzardi said on Capitol Connection. “We want to accommodate landlords to be able to provide maintenance on their property and cover their costs; and, we want to provide some kind of stability for renters so that they know that next year when I go renew that lease, I’m not going to get increased by more than ‘X’ percent.”

Guzzardi, who chairs the Housing Committee in the House of Representatives, warned of a looming housing crisis on the horizon when the state and federal eviction moratoriums come to an end.

“I think it’s going to expose a lot of people to eviction,” Guzzardi said. “Our goal is to get as much of this rent relief that we’re getting from the federal government out the door as quickly as possible to pay off what these tenants owe, and to help their landlords pay off the mortgage that they owe.”

The Housing Committee also cleared a bill for debate on the House floor that would seal eviction records from public view.

Guzzardi said the plan would make it “so that eviction doesn’t sort of haunt [tenants] for the rest of their lives, and every time they go try to rent an apartment, they’re turned away because they’ve had an eviction on their record.”

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