North Dakota can’t control rents: Candidates’ positions vary on how best to help housing crunch

Southwest North Dakota has a lot on its plate as the fall elections near. Oil production has helped drive down the state’s unemployment rate, but the benefits do not come without their drawbacks.

By: Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press



Southwest North Dakota has a lot on its plate as the fall elections near. Oil production has helped drive down the state’s unemployment rate, but the benefits do not come without their drawbacks.

One of the biggest issues in the Oil Patch is the lack of affordable housing, especially rental units, and the mid-income families and individuals that get caught between eligibility for low-income housing and being able to afford rent or mortgage.

That is where imaginative housing solutions come into play, said Dickinson resident Alan Fehr, Republican candidate for one of District 36’s State House seats.

“I think that if people are creative, I think that many people, maybe most people, will find something that works for them,” he said.

Some inventive housing solutions can be hazardous, said District 36 Democratic candidate Bev Berger, Richardton.

“I don’t think just putting campers here and there and everywhere is safe and I don’t think it’s good for the towns,” she said.


Rent control


There is a North Dakota law that prohibits rent control by local governments.

“It’s an alien concept to North Dakotans. Any time you have something outside the box that people aren’t accustomed to, it’s likely to be a hard sell whether it makes sense or doesn’t make sense,” said Paul Rechlin, executive director of CommunityWorks North Dakota, an affordable housing and community improvement nonprofit in Mandan.

Rent control can come in different forms and, if elected, Berger would have to see a plan before making any decisions.

“It’s totally different when you’re on the outside,” she said.

The market will balance itself out and government involvement in the housing market will only create complications, Fehr said.

“There are some things that government needs to do,” he said. “But I think as a general sense if rents are going up, people need to look at what works for them.”




“I understand where some of the rent needs to go up,” Berger said. “But I don’t believe we needed to overly engorge.”

There are some that have lost their housing, especially those with fixed incomes, because of large rent increases, she said.

“The housing crunch is very difficult for some people,” Fehr said. “And, of course, it’s a boon to others.”

Those selling houses and who own rental property are benefiting from the high demand and low supply of housing in the Oil Patch, he said.

After getting burned in 1980s oil boom, many would-be developers and more-so would-be lenders are worried about jumping feet first into large building projects, Rechlin said.

“The whole problem is cost of construction is high and cost of construction has never been higher than it is right now,” he said. “Whatever that cost of construction might be, how can you put that kind of investment into construction of new housing and be able to charge rent that’s affordable?”




“Unlimited money is the only solution and that doesn’t exist,” Rechlin said with a slight chuckle.

But partnerships between government, private companies and nonprofits can create relief, which they are doing in North Dakota, he said.

Temporary housing, when done in a structured manner, may be the answer to overbuilding, Berger said.

“When the oil boom is done, the camps will go away and the communities won’t be left with residential areas that are abandoned,” she said.

In previous sessions, including the last, there have been some programs introduced that have created and funded some affordable housing projects, Fehr said. He worries about too much government intervention.

“We want southwest North Dakota to be a great place to live,” he said. “And that means housing, that means schools, that means roads, that means a lot of things that the government — state, city, county — all share some involvement in making it happen. But it also means, and I think, our economy in some ways may be a wake-up call to people that the government doesn’t exist to solve all problems.”


Source: The Dickinson Press 

No Relief for Owners: Operating Costs Increase


Mild rent hike on tap

Finally, some relief for tenants.

A benchmark used to set annual rent increases for more than 1 million tenants in rent-stabilized apartments has come in at its lowest level in a decade — a sign that this year’s hikes could be among the lowest since 2002.

The Rent Guidelines Board determined that landlords’ operating costs climbed a modest 2.8 percent over the last 12 months, compared with 6.1 percent last year.

Based mainly on landlord costs, last year’s rent hikes were set at 3.75 percent for a one-year lease renewal and 7.25 percent for two years.

If the board follows form, this year’s hikes could be lower.

The board will vote Tuesday on preliminary rent hikes.

Source: New York Post

Bad News For Landlords: Rent-Regulated Tenants Are On A Winning Streak

Rent-Regulated Tenants Are On A Winning Streak

By Kim Velsey 4/2

Yet more good news for tenants living in rent-regulated apartments! Rents will will still be going up, of course—don’t be crazy, the rent always goes up—but this year could see the lowest hike in a decade.

What's the rent? (dpapworth, flickr)


The Rent Guidelines Board has set one of the benchmarks used to determine rent increases—the rise in landlords’ operating costs—at 2.8 percent,The New York Post reports.

The landlords’ operating cost increase is used to determine how much the rent can be raised on the city’s roughly 1 million rent-regulated apartments. Last year, based on a landlord operating cost increase of 6.1 percent, the Rent Guidelines Board set rent increases at 3.75 percent for a one-year lease renewal and 7.25 percent for two years.

Heartening news for tenants, especially since the board has set annual increases at about 3 percent for the last decade, a decision that never fails to irritate both tenants and landlords, who have demanded more transparency, so they know why the board makes the decisions that everyone hates.

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Owners May See Smallest Rent Increase in 10 Years

Stabilized Tenants May See Smallest Rent Increase in 10 Years

Friday, April 27, 2012, by Sara Polsky

The circus is almost here, folks. The Rent Guidelines Board is about to embark on its annual series of hearings, where tenants cry, landlords beg, and the board hikes stabilized apartments’ rents. Landlords with stabilized tenants recently found out that the Supreme Court won’t hear a case on the legality of rent-stabilization. Now landlords could be in for a second disappointment: the smallest rent increase in a decade. According to the Rent Guidelines Board, the Post explains, operating costs for landlords rose only 2.8 percent over the past 12 months, compared to 6.1 percent last year. And rising costs are a major argument from landlords in favor of higher rents.



Last year, the board called for rent hikes of 3.75 percent on one-year leases and 7.25 percent on two-year leases. The board will conduct its preliminary vote on this year’s increases on Tuesday. The median stabilized rent right nowin Manhattan below 96th Street is $1,480/month.


Source: Curbed NY