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Real estate trade association pushes back on bill that would allow rent control

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The Illinois Association of Realtors has asked its members to participate in the debate on rent control

Curbed Chicago Flickr pool/Debbie Mercer

The debate over rent control in Illinois is heating up as the Illinois Association of Realtors, a group which represents some 44,000 real estate professionals across the state, has taken a position against any form of rent control or stabilization measures.

Last week, the group sent an email blast and published a blog post urging its members to reach out to their state representatives and ask elected officials to oppose a new measure from State Representative Will Guzzardi (39th District) which seeks to repeal the state’s Rent Control Preemption Act (RCPA). Passed into law by Governor Jim Edgar in 1997, the RCPA forbids rent control of any kind in the State of Illinois.

The bill introduced by Guzzardi last month is not a rent control measure, but it is one which could see the groundwork for rent control in major Illinois cities. The guts of Guzzardi’s bill, House Bill 2430, contains a single written line: The Rent Control Preemption Act is repealed. In effect, the repeal of the RCPA would allow city leaders to introduce rent control measures.

Illinois Realtors, a group which refers to itself as “the only advocate for private property rights at the State Capitol in Springfield and in city halls across Illinois,” suggests that the repeal of the RCPA could eventually produce a number of unintended negative effects for property owners, tenants, and tax payers.

The group suggests that rent control initiatives could create an environment of disinvestment and possibly neglect as some property owners “will be discouraged from maintaining and upgrading their properties because costs will rise but revenues will be fixed.” Illinois Realtors also suggests that in the worst case scenario, the bill could “encourage an illegal black market for rental property.”

Despite the alarmist response to the potential outcomes of a Rent Control Preemption Act repeal in Springfield, there has still yet to be a discussion as to how rent control or any rent stabilization measures would look in the City of Chicago. And the latest tug of war between lawmakers and trade associations on rent control and the cost of living in cities like Chicago is more evidence that there is certainly a need for further discussion and debate on this subject.