Opinion by Andrew Thompson
Most of my struggle in the past regarding housing was due to low wages and the general nature of housing being expensive and continually increasing in Colorado. I have never been able to live alone, I have always had roommates whether it be strangers or friends/family. Rent control would have certainly alleviated a portion of this issue.
The most recent issue in which rent control would have helped was at the last apartment complex I lived in. It was nearing lease renewal time, and I had received a notice of new rates if I would be renting for another term. I was very frustrated because they were increasing the rent by 7-10% and I remember recalling I have never even received a yearly raise that was that much! I emailed my property manager to set up a meeting to discuss the lease renewal, and they mentioned they would not discuss pricing. However, with a significant increase such as that, I persisted and tried to talk to the property manager about it. During my discussion with the property manager she flat out told me “I don’t care, I would rather you move out so we could lease the unit at or above market rate and you should be thankful we aren’t raising your rent to market rate.” I was frustrated that they were also increasing our pet rent and I mentioned that I am renting the same unit and you are not offering any additional amenities or upgrades, so what is the rationale for increasing my rent? The ultimate response I received was, “Your unit is below market rate, and unfortunately there is nothing I can do the reduce the increase for you.”
After that conversation, I was angry and discussed looking into what programs were available to assist first-time home buyers so my wife and I could buy a home since we would just be charged more and more every year for the same living space. We did end up buying a home but the situation was less than ideal and will ultimately end up paying more for the house than if we were able to save enough money renting to go the traditional route. However, I doubt we would have ever been able to go the traditional route and save up enough money when our rent was expected to increase yearly. If I had rent control there would have been a much better opportunity to save money to purchase a home by saving enough money for a conventional loan option. Instead, we made the tough decision of increasing our cost of living and buying a home under an FHA loan with down payment assistance, when it was much less affordable and opportune for us to do so. In the end, though the extra costs are what we rationalized as the opportunity cost of having our housing cost mostly fixed year over year as opposed to renting and continually having our housing cost increase.
Without rent control, I see a lot of people forced into a similar situation where they will never be able to save enough money to buy a home if they want to and if they were to consider buying a home they may also have to go a route that is more costly. The non-conventional routes that people can take to buy a home over renting (FHA loans, first-time home buyer assistance programs, etc.) are just another instance where it’s more expensive to be poor or at a low income. I see many Coloradans faced with a similar situation of accepting their housing cost year over year renting or stressing their budget to purchase a home to have some stability.