State Rep. Hoan Huynh has proposed a bill, HB 4104, known as the Let the People Lift the Ban Act, which would allow local governments in Illinois to adopt rent control provisions if supported by a majority of voters. Rent control has received support in previous referenda, with over 60% of voters approving in precincts with a high proportion of renters. The push for rent control has been revived as federal funds for rent assistance have decreased. State Sen. Mike Simmons supports the legislation, citing growing unrest among renters who face high rent increases. Opponents argue that rent control would discourage property investment and lower the quality of rental housing. If passed, the legislation would require a municipal referendum and the creation of a rent control program.
As highlighted by a recent article on Chicago Business, state Rep. Hoan Huynh is pushing for a change in legislation that would allow municipalities in Illinois to lift the current ban on rent control within their own boundaries. Huynh’s proposal, known as HB 4104 or the Let the People Lift the Ban Act, was introduced in the Illinois House on June 6. If passed, it would enable local governments to adopt rent control provisions if a majority of voters in the locality have shown support for a pro-rent control referendum.
Rent control has gained significant support wherever it has been put on the ballot. In previous years, more than 60% of voters approved rent control in three advisory referenda held in precincts with a high proportion of renters. However, the push for rent control subsided during the COVID-19 pandemic when Illinois provided financial assistance to renters using federal funds from the CARES Act. Now, with those forms of aid largely depleted, the demand for rent control is resurging.
While statewide efforts to lift the ban on rent control progress slowly, state Sen. Mike Simmons believes it is crucial to empower local communities to make their own decisions regarding rent control. Simmons, a co-sponsor of Huynh’s legislation, states that many renters across the state are feeling the burden of double-digit rent increases, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, middle-aged adults who are empty nesters, and younger employees who struggle to afford rising rents.
Opponents of rent control, including property-owners groups, argue that implementing a cap on rent increases would discourage landlords from investing in property improvements and ultimately lead to lower-quality rental housing. However, supporters of rent control believe that it is necessary to protect renters from exorbitant price hikes and ensure affordable housing options.
If Huynh’s legislation is successful, the path to implementing rent control would likely involve two steps. Firstly, a municipal referendum would gauge local support for rent control. If the majority of voters support it, the second step would involve the creation of a rent control program. It’s important to note that the proposed legislation does not provide for an instant opt-out of the ban and immediate implementation of rent control.
At the end of the day, the debate around rent control in Illinois continues to evolve. With the introduction of Huynh’s proposal, there is renewed hope for renters who are seeking relief from skyrocketing rents. However, the outcome remains uncertain, and it will be interesting to see how the legislation progresses and whether it receives the necessary support to become law.