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Washington University Law Review



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Rental housing in the United States is increasingly owned by corporate landlords that operate under a different set of incentives, behind a level of anonymity previously unavailable, and pursuant to practices that often exacerbate an already precarious housing landscape for tenants. Marketsensitive and nuanced rent stabilization laws have reemerged at the state and local level as a viable policy option to help regulate escalating rents and prevent tenant displacement. These laws, when well drafted, can address outdated critiques of strict rent caps and can complement alternative approaches, like those of the politically popular Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) movement, which advocates for reducing regulatory barriers to new housing development.

While historically the province of state and local governments, this Essay argues that there is a robust role—on both the legislative and executive fronts—for federal involvement in the implementation of rent stabilization nationwide. The Essay critiques the recently released White House Blueprint for a Tenant Bill of Rights as largely illusory, examines historical precedent for congressional authorization of rent regulation and, short of action by Congress, considers how the President could leverage federal financial assistance and fair housing law to provide incentives for states and localities to pass rent stabilization laws.



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