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Rent control bill would let Utah cities impose rules

File: The Utah Capitol Building and State Street in Salt Lake City. Photo: Getty Images

People are speaking out against a rent control bill, even before it has been debated in the Utah legislature.

Rent control is a program that sets a price ceiling or annual cap on rental property price increases. The laws tend to be enacted in an effort to keep housing affordable for low-income residents. The bill before the legislature would not set up the program in Utah; rather it would allow cities to decide whether they want to impose caps or other limits on rents.

Rep. Jennifer Dailey-Provost, a Salt Lake City Democrat, says her bill would allow for local control and would help people who are struggling to pay for housing in Utah. She told the Provo Daily Herald she believes rent control can be passed in ways that help low-income Utahns.

But the St. George News reports city leaders don’t think it would work for them.

The Utah Apartment Association is against the practice in the state.

“Rent control hurts all property owners in Utah (not just landlords) by capping property incomes and values across the board,” said their statement.

The association said it would create a rental housing shortage.

BYU economics professor David Sims told the Herald that it may sound like a good idea. But in the long term, he said controlling the price of rental property often has the opposite effect and leads to less affordable housing.

“Most of the benefits get captured by people who are not particularly poor,” he said.

The bill’s text is not yet available on the Utah legislature’s website. But there is a bill title, and the status is listed as “in progress.”