Why New Mexico Needs SB 99 Rent Control Prohibitions
Summary: SB 99 Rent Control Prohibitions, introduced by Reps. Linda Lopez and Patricia Roybal Caballero, repeals the existing statewide prohibition on rent control, leaving it up to local municipalities to decide if they want rent control in their communities.
History of the Problem
- A long-standing statute, Sec. 47-8A-1, prohibits any jurisdiction within New Mexico from enacting any type of rent control for privately owned rental property that is not subsidized by a government agency.
- As a result, rents have increased to the point where a large number of New Mexicans cannot find housing that is affordable.
- Uncontrolled rents contribute to the many financial pressures on working families. Many more people are paying a large proportion of their income in rent, leaving little for food, utilities, and other basic necessities.
- Nearly a quarter of all renters in the state pay 50% or more of their income for housing costs, falling in the “extremely cost burdened” category, according to the Natl. Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). Another 22% spend 30 to 49% of their income on housing.
- Nearly 20% of New Mexicans live at or below the poverty line, and almost a quarter (24%) of children live in households at or below the poverty line.
- Nearly one-third of the state’s households are renters (more than 250K households).
- The minimum wage across the state is $12 as of Jan. 1, 2023. The average fair market monthly rent for a modest 1-bedroom apartment in New Mexico is $754, but much higher in many communities. To afford even $754 plus utilities monthly, assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, requires a wage of $15.00 per hour. (NLHC 2022.)
- To rent a modest 1-bedroom in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, or Albuquerque requires a wage of $18-$20 per hour, and nearly $17 even in the more rural communities of Lea and Eddy counties. (NLHC 2022)
- Working families require much more to reach a living wage: in Bernalillo County, for example, two parents with two children need to earn more than $22/hr. each to cover basic expenses.
- Many working people in our state cannot afford to live in the communities where they work, resulting in longer work commutes, higher costs, and a larger contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change.
- SB 99 would simply repeal the existing prohibition on rent control in New Mexico. This does not mean that New Mexico and its cities, counties or other municipalities would suddenly have rent control.
- County and municipal home-rule governments, which are currently prohibited from enacting rent control, would now be empowered to do so.
- Rent control ordinances could vary according to the overall needs of the people living in those jurisdictions and to the effectiveness of any opposition to the proposed ordinances.
- A jurisdiction could pass an ordinance that limits rent increases to a percentage that is related to the inflation rate, and it could allow landlords to present compelling reasons for needing to raise the rent beyond those limits.
- There would certainly be intense opposition in the jurisdictions considering a form of rent control.