Philadelphia — and all of Pennsylvania — legislators said, there are currently no meaningful protections to keep renters from facing drastic rent hikes. City Council is working to learn about how to protect city residents
On Wednesday, March 15th, council’s committee on housing, neighborhood development, and the homeless held a hearing which allowed Philadelphia’s local residents, experts and fellow legislators to provide input on the council exploring the idea of implementing rent control to the area.
The residents of the city spoke their mind and informed the council that a minimum wage worker would have to work 3.5 full-time jobs in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia.
Rent control would put limits on how much a landlord could ask for rent and how much a rent could increase for renters if the city chooses to move forward with these regulations. And, while there was no mention of what the limits might be if rent control is implemented, the majority of participants seemed to support the idea.
Cynthia Dutwin, a renter in the city’s Mount Airy neighborhood, said that without rent control her landlord has been able to make demands that have made living in the city extremely difficult for her. As her job requires that she live in the city, Dutwin worried if she couldn’t afford her apartment or if she was evicted, she could lose her job.
“This is our home. Please protect us. We are not disposable,” Dutwin told the committee.
City Council isn’t alone in it’s concern for protecting renters- Democratic State Senator Jimmy Dillon said he plans to introduce legislation in the near future that would help stabilize rent across the state.
As a newly elected legislator, Dillon said that he’s getting a handful of constituents who have been visiting his office, a majority of which, want to discuss the impact that inflation has had on their households.
“Although every story is different, the root cause is very simple, and remains the same for everyone. Their household income has not been able to keep up with the prices they are being charged and are facing these days,” said Dillon.
In Northeast Philadelphia, landlords have recently been raising rents by as much as 50%, usually as a way to recoup losses that occurred while rent collections were paused during the pandemic. However, they show no concern over whether a tenant can afford the price hike or not.
Dillion noted that the legislation would be aimed at “corporate landlords,” or those who own 15 units or more, to ensure they set rents across a year at reasonable standards.
Wednesday’s hearing was only an effort to explore what rent control might look like in the city. Any plan to implement rent control would need to be proposed and approved by City Council.