CT lawmakers drop hotly debated proposal to cap rent increases

Issue to be studied instead; Other renter protections still being considered

Photo of Jacqueline Rabe Thomas
State Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport

State Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Connecticut lawmakers say they are – for now – scrapping a hotly debated proposal that would have capped how much landlords can increase rent each year.

Sen. Marilyn Moore said Monday the Housing Committee, which she co-chairs, instead plans to study the issue so the legislature is better prepared to consider the issue next year.

“It’s a big change. We have decided to set up a task force to first look at it and give us recommendations,” said D-Bridgeport.

A hot housing market has led to rapidly increasing rent. Tenants priced out of one unit are left with few other places to move within the state because Connecticut has the lowest-in-the-nation rental vacancy rate.

Research shows as rent increases and the number of units vacant and available to rent shrinks, homelessness rises. In Connecticut, homelessness rose in 2022 for the first time in years.

This year, state lawmakers filed several bills that would have capped rent increases at 4% plus inflation as determined by the Consumer Price Index. Lawmakers said doing so would help avoid the negative effects big rent hikes have on tenants.

But Moore said Monday none of those bills will be voted out of the Housing Committee before their Tuesday deadline. That’s likely because the bills did not have the 8 votes to do so. The 15-member committee is controlled by Democrats, who comprise 10 of the seats.

Last week, a coalition representing some of the hundreds of people who testified in support of rent caps called on the committee to take the bills up for a vote so the public can see which legislators were opposed to capping rent increases.

“If you support this bill, say so publicly. If you don’t, say so publicly. Public business should be conducted in the light of day, with the courage to own your position,” the coalition wrote Housing Committee members last Thursday. “We must be willing to be held accountable for what we say and do.”

While rent caps may not be moving forward this year, other renter protections may. Legislation voted out of committee would: limit late fees, protect security deposits from being withheld inappropriately, make it illegal to deny renting to someone because they have an eviction older than five years, forbid application fees, and prohibit evictions during the winter months.