Georgia rent control bill | Rep. Eric Bell

ATLANTA — A state lawmaker from Jonesboro has introduced a bill that would allow Georgia cities and counties to enact rent control. 

“Obviously, we’re in a housing market crisis,” said state Rep. Eric Bell (D-Jonesboro).  The housing boom has been great for those who can afford to buy into upgraded communities around metro Atlanta. But for those on the outside, he says it is a crisis.  “Living in their cars. They go to work every day and still can’t find a nice place to lay their home,” Bell said Thursday.

Bell dropped a House bill that would allow communities in Georgia to enact rent control laws – which would limit rent increases levied by landlords.  There’s a similar bill in the state Senate.

Earlier this year, the state House passed a bill to require landlords to maintain weatherproof structures with working plumbing, running water, heating, ventilation and working locks.  It has not passed the Senate.  

Bell’s bill – allowing rent control – will see opposition from conservatives, according to Kyle Wingfield of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“What you’re doing is you’re discouraging builders and developers from adding new housing supply. The number one cause of high rents and high home prices — not just in metro Atlanta but across the state and across the country — is too little supply,” Wingfield said.

But Bell said local governments should have a say in how much rents can and can not rise.

“They know what’s best for their communities. So I feel like we should empower them to take control and have a stronger local control,” Bell said. 

Neither Bell’s bill nor a nearly identical Senate rent control bill has Republican support.  Earlier this year, an AJC analysis showed that about 25 percent of state lawmakers are themselves landlords.

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