Aug 18, 2022 - Real Estate

Detroiters want to end Michigan's ban on rent control

Illustration of apartment doorbells with an intercom shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Local activists are calling on state leaders for solutions to the city's housing crisis, specifically Michigan's ban on rent control.

What's happening: Rent control has been prohibited by state law since 1988.

  • Democrats in Lansing have introduced bills to repeal it since 2015, Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) tells Axios. Those efforts have been unsuccessful due to Republican opposition.

What they're saying: "Local governments need to have some sort of tools to be able to address rising rents," Sen. Jeff Irwin, (D-Ann Arbor), who introduced a bill to repeal the ban this legislative session, tells Axios. "For an idea like this to get more momentum, some local communities have to start clamoring for specific policies that could make a difference. "

The intrigue: Evan Villeneuve, a fair housing activist with the Detroit Right to Counsel coalition, tells Axios he believes the momentum exists among local housing groups to push for reforms.

Flashback: Michigan passed a series of pro-tenant bills in the 1970s. The ban on rent control "was a bit of a backlash reaction to that," Irwin said.

  • Chang said she thought the ban was put into place "in part because Detroit was about to do something."

State of play: Rents are soaring and landlords are passing their rising costs to renters.

  • Landlords are also capitalizing on the strong demand for housing, especially in places where folks migrated after the rise of remote work.
  • "Around 10 years ago, people were gobbling up foreclosures, but right now it's really trying to gobble up existing apartment complexes," Villeneuve tells Axios.

Go deeper: Why rent prices are rising nationally


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