Sen. Sampson Statement on Recent Failure of Housing Committee ‘Rent Control’ Measures

March 10, 2023

Sen. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott), ranking member of the legislature’s Housing Committee issued the following statement to CT Public regarding the failure of HB6588 and the other rent control bills considered by the Housing committee:


“First, of course I am relieved that the proposed bills were turned into a study for a task force to review and not actual policy that would cause havoc to Connecticut’s already ailing housing industry and also add to our negative reputation as a place that is hostile to business and to freedom.


“I am pleased to see that the Democrat co-chairs recognized the inherent dangers in going down the road of price controls and abandoned the idea of arbitrary limits on what a housing provider may charge. I give them credit for doing the right thing.  It would have been so much easier for them to simply plow ahead because of how loud and vitriolic the advocates had become on the issue, but they did the adult thing. We heard from hundreds of people via their testimony including both tenants and housing providers. We heard from economists and from members of the legislature who through considerable research and experience have concluded that using government force to alter a private contract between private parties, particularly for the purpose of fixing prices, is not only unjust but leads to disastrous consequences. They listened to all sides, including those of us in the minority and they made a decision to study the issue first and not leap forward blindly.


“What those angry advocates fail understand is that this is not about picking sides between landlords and tenants. That perception is like many in today’s political world and sadly what is leading to so much division. Rather, the choice is really about what policy will serve us best in improving the lives of all our constituents, tenants and housing providers alike.  I was shocked and disappointed so many people came to the hearings demanding a short-term instant gratification solution for tenants without thinking more deeply about what happens once such a law is passed. Policies that abandon our tried and true free market system that has given us all, including those at the bottom of the economic ladder, the best quality of life in human history are a mistake.  In communism, there isn’t even a ladder.  Everyone ends up worse off.  Rent control hurts renters. Here is some evidence.


“Regarding the policy itself.  Price fixing always leads to shortages. This is a well understood economic reality that both conservatives and liberals accept.  That means that in the short term, only those who currently have apartments would benefit.  Anyone looking would be in worse shape than now.  After that, housing providers would be force to modify how they run their businesses.  Maintenance and the quality of rental units would suffer, either because the provider has no incentive to fix things, or worse, they can no longer afford to.  It’s not hard to see how things progress.  Without an incentive to provide rentals, housing providers would leave for other states or other industries.  Few new people would enter that industry and the shortage would worsen.  Ultimately, more government interference would have to take place.  Either the price controls would be reversed or the government would get further involved in providing housing.  We have seen what that looks like and we have seen this same scenario play out many times in many places.  In New York city, there may be as many as 60,000 vacant rent-controlled apartments in New York city because the owners perceive a greater benefit from the tax write off than to update and improve the units so they could be rented,” he said.

More than 60,000 Rent-Stabilized Apartments Are Now Vacant — and Tenant Advocates Say Landlords Are Holding Them for ‘Ransom’ – THE CITY