A state lawmaker is preparing legislation that would repeal Georgia’s decades-old ban on rent control measures, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said this week that limiting how much landlords can raise rent could help lower-income tenants afford to live where they work.
State Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, told Capital B Atlanta this week that she plans to propose a bill in the current legislative session to do away with the state law from 1984 that prohibits rent control.
In landlord-friendly Georgia, James told Capital B, “It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to work with [Republicans] and, hopefully, they will put a cap on [rent] if they do nothing else.”
If the Georgia Legislature does make the unlikely move to lift rent control prohibition, Atlanta would enact its own law to regulate rent prices, Dickens said at a Feb. 1 press conference.
“I disagree with the state’s decision at that time to have a ban on rent control statewide,” he said. “I think jurisdictions can make their own decisions.”
“We won’t be able to build our way out of this crisis,” Dickens said, noting that his administration is on track to build and renovate 20,000 affordable residences for rent by 2030. But rent control laws would have to be crafted for Atlanta, and not a carbon copy of the more sweeping rent control measures in cities like New York, Dickens said.
Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” approach, Dickens said, he’d consider rent increase caps tailored to different parts of the city, based on income levels, housing types, and the length of time renters have spent at their homes.
In the state Legislature, he said, “Right now, we’re at a universal ‘no,’ but if we could get to a ‘yes, but,’ then that is worth [James’s] efforts.”
While state law currently prohibits any form of rent stabilization measures, Dickens said Atlanta could take other actions to slow rent increases, as they continue to rise faster than wages.
The city also can’t enact its own minimum wage law, because Georgia law prohibits that. But the mayor said expanding Atlanta’s inclusionary zones, which require new residential developments in fast-evolving areas to include affordable units, “is something I would look at.”