As the executive director of the New Hampshire Home Builders Association, I am deeply concerned about the recent push for rent control legislation in our state. Rent control may seem like a quick fix for the current housing crunch, but it is a dangerous and short-sighted approach that will only make the situation worse in the long run.
The housing shortage in New Hampshire is a complex issue, but one thing is clear: There is a scarcity of rental units available. Rent control may sound like a simple solution, but it has been proven time and time again to have disastrous effects on the rental market. Rent control artificially limits the amount of rent landlords can charge, which in turn reduces the incentive for property owners to invest in their properties or build new units. The result is a decrease in the supply of available rental units, driving up the cost of housing even further and exacerbating the very problem it is meant to solve.
The truth is, rent control is not a solution to the housing crisis. The only way to address this problem is to increase the supply of rental units in this state. This requires a collaborative effort from government, the private sector, and local communities including planning and zoning boards. No one entity can address this challenge successfully.
One solution could be to streamline the zoning and regulatory process for new rental developments, making it easier and more affordable for developers to build more units. Incentives for developers to build attainable housing could be offered, encouraging the creation of rental units for those who are struggling to find a place to call home. Many of those same people seeking attainable housing are nurses, police officers, firefighters, and teachers who also work in the same community where they wish to live. They can afford the apartment, they just can’t find one available for rent. Attainability is an equal challenge to affordability.
Another solution is to improve the rental housing stock in our state. The state could allocate funding to incentivize landlords to make energy-efficient upgrades to their properties, which will save renters money on their utility bills and also help the environment. Additionally, the state could establish a program to help low-income renters with security deposits, making it easier for them to secure a rental unit.
The solution to the housing crisis is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a multi-faceted strategy that addresses the underlying issues that contribute to the shortage of rental units in our state. Rent control is not a solution, and it will only make the problem worse.
The New Hampshire Home Builders Association is committed to finding real solutions to the housing crisis, and we are ready to work with government, the private sector and local communities to make it happen.