If you’ve ever looked for a place to live, you know prices aren’t cheap.
If you want to rent a house in Honolulu, expect to pay an average of almost $2,700 a month, and that’s up almost five percent from last year.
The issue has one lawmaker considering what’s already happening in other expensive large cities on the mainland: rent control.
Rent control would place a maximum that landlords can charge tenants. Rates would be determined based on the average income and housing prices in the area.
Rep. Kaniela Ing, D, South Maui, says he’s taken matters into his own hands and introduced a rent control bill.
He says his proposal will look at what other major cities have done with rent control and take the best parts of it for a pilot project in Hawaii. He hopes this will help young people save money to eventually buy homes and help kupuna on fixed incomes.
“It’s to make sure that local people aren’t being out-competed for by mainland and international interests,” he said. “Local people are struggling everyday just to pay rent to feed their kids.”
Ing wants to focus on possibly three different areas first: Kona, Kihei, and Kakaako.
“We want to control new developments so that landlords will be able to plan for this new change of policy,” he explained, “and any buildings built before 1990, so that leaves this section of recent developments untouched.”
There are concerns that rent control would discourage developers from building new homes, and discourage landlords from renting.
“The cost to do business, the cost to own property is so high that if you control the income, you are going to be in the red constantly,” said real estate analyst Stephany Sofos.
Sofos says if the state wants to help renters, then it needs to help the developers to provide affordable housing.
The only way you can provide for the everyday, average person is to provide the affordable housing through tax breaks or subsidies,” she said.