As real wages stagnate, racial disparities grow, and housing prices soar in cities across the US, local governments are increasingly adopting laws and regulations that aim to reduce inequalities and improve access to economic opportunity for their residents. At the same time, states are increasingly enacting laws that limit or preempt local action in these areas, often relying on a thin or nonexistent evidence base to suggest that local regulation is inefficient or overly burdensome. Rent control is one domain that has become subject to state preemption. Proponents of state preemption argue rent control disincentivizes private actors from building and preserving market-rate and affordable rental housing. Those advocating against preemption counter that rent control provides a multitude of benefits to vulnerable tenants, including decreased rent, eviction protection, and housing stability. In this brief, we synthesize the evidence on the effectiveness of local rent control laws and suggest areas in which further research could help policymakers, advocates, and the public improve state and local laws regarding rent control.
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