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'Overbearing': Calls for rent control in Charlotte growing amid rising prices

ActionNC blames corporate rental companies for hiking up rent costs, but others point to the pandemic and inflation.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Amid rising rent prices and the number of corporate-owned rentals increasing, Charlotte-area advocates are pushing for rent control.

Most states have laws that ban cities and counties from passing rent control measures. The Carolinas passed rent control bans in the 1980s, but with skyrocketing rent, a group called ActionNC is hoping to change that.

According to a RentCafe study, the average rent for a Charlotte apartment in July 2022 was $1,639. In July 2019, the study says it was around $1,200.  

"I’m just finding myself near the end of the month squeezing whatever I have left,” Cecelia Hendking shared with WCNC Charlotte 

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The rising costs are affecting renters, who like Hendking, are on a fixed income and Social Security. 

"It’s overbearing,” Hendking said.   

That’s why ActionNC is pushing for rent control, which would regulate how much landlords can increase prices. There are only a few states that have rent control regulations, including California and Oregon.

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ActionNC also wants Charlotte to stop real estate corporations from buying thousands of Charlotte homes.  

“If they buy up everything, what’s gonna be left?” ActionNC member Arit Bey asked. 

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Real estate brokerage Redfinreports that in the fourth quarter of 2021, investors bought more than 30% of homes in Charlotte. The national average was 20%. 

ActionNC is pointing the finger at corporations for hiking up rent; however, the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association points to other factors including the pandemic, eviction moratorium, and inflation.  

Kim Graham, executive director of the GCAA, argued that rent control can actually harm communities.

"We agree with the National Apartment Association that rent control distorts the housing market by acting as a deterrent and disincentive to develop rental housing, and expedites the deterioration of existing housing stock," Graham said. 

Graham added that decreasing the housing supply hurts economic activity, jobs, and wages.

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After hearing concerns over how many properties are being bought by real estate corporations, Mecklenburg County has dedicated $500,000 in this year’s budget to research the effects of corporate-owned real estate on residents. 

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  

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