You may have already gotten a letter from your property management company or landlord – letting you know your rent is going up $200 – $500 – even $750 a month!
And you are not alone.
Boston now has the third highest rent in the country – behind New York and San Francisco.
Rental housing experts say while the average monthly rent dipped significantly during the pandemic in the Boston area, it has already recovered to about 1% above where it was in March 2020.
And that means as rental agreements are coming up – tenants are getting a rude awakening when it’s time to renew their lease.
"This is the number one concern on residents' minds across our city," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday. "The majority of Boston residents are renters. Our residents are rent burdened. It is unsustainable."
Rent stabilization was one of the key issues for Wu while she was running for office, and she announced Thursday that she is forming a Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee to take a closer look at local housing conditions and examine rent stabilization programs in other cities.
They will be tasked with making recommendations tothe mayor and the mayor's Office of Housing on strategies to stabilize Boston rents and protect tenants from displacement. The committee is expected to meet through 2022 with the goal of shaping a proposal for the next legislative session.
“Cities across the country use rent stabilization as one tool among many to protect tenants and keep families in their homes,” Wu said. “The majority of Boston residents and families are renters. If we aren’t willing to take on the rent increases that are driving families out of Boston, then we aren’t meeting the needs of our neighborhoods. I thank the broad group of stakeholders, including advocates, tenants, and developers, who are willing to roll up their sleeves to reimagine what’s possible.”
She said housing stability will be the foundation of the city's recovery from the pandemic, and she intends to use the bulk of the city's American Rescue Plan Act funds toward achieving this goal.
"Housing is an important issue. It is a human right and we all deserve a home," said Mimi Ramos, executive director at New England United for Justice and a member of the new advisory committee. "We have an opportunity to shape what that future is going to look like together."
While this is not rent control, rent stabilization typically limits rent increases to a certain percentage so that tenants aren’t priced out of their current housing situation.
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The timing may be crucial. As the CEO of BostonPads.com told us last month, the current lack of housing and rental stock in Boston and its surrounding suburbs continues to drive prices up.
“In the city of Boston, we have less than a 1% real time vacancy rate, that means that 99% of apartments are occupied,” BostonPads.com CEO Demetrios Salpoglou said. “So, it’s a supply and demand issue. When you have low supply, rents are going to go up.”
The members of the newly formed Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee include:
- Emma Anderson, Boston Teachers Union member
- Kathy Brown, coordinator at Boston Tenant Coalition
- Joe Byrne, executive secretary-treasurer for the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
- Karen Chen, executive director at Chinese Progressive Association
- Filaine Deronnette, vice president of Health Systems for 1199 SEIU
- Emilio Dorcely, CEO of Urban Edge
- Dermot Doyne, local landlord and business owner
- Chris Herbert, managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
- Beyazmin Jimenez, Abundant Housing Massachusetts board president
- Michael Kane, executive director at HUD Tenant Alliance
- Brian Kavoogian, managing director of National Development
- Curtis Kemeny, CEO and president of Boston Residential Group
- Joe Kriesberg, president of Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations
- Denise Matthews-Turner, co-executive director at City Life Vida Urbana
- Lisa Owens, executive director at Hyams Foundation
- Jeanne Pinado, vice president of Capital Markets at Colliers International
- Mimi Ramos, executive director at New England United for Justice
- Megan Sandel, associate professor of Pediatric Medicine at Boston University
- Chanda Smart, CEO at Onyx
- Lauren Song, senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services
- Justin Steil, associate professor of Law and Urban Planning, MIT
- Carolyn Villers, executive director at Mass Senior Action
- Josh Zakim, founder and executive director at Housing Forward MA