In Texas, where lawmakers recently passed a law limiting how much rent a landlord can charge, some landlords are already trying to get around the new law by offering lower rents.
Rent control advocates say that means renters are paying more in rent than they would otherwise be.
A few states, like Vermont, have enacted rent control laws, but the law in Texas hasn’t been challenged, even though a state appeals court upheld the law last year.
That’s because Texas is one of five states that don’t require landlords to give a tenant a copy of a lease before signing the lease.
The other states are Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
“The fact that it doesn’t require tenants to get a copy is a little puzzling,” says Dan Siegel, a senior attorney with the National Legal and Policy Center, which advocates for tenant rights.
The law “seems to be targeting a fairly narrow group of people, and it’s kind of disingenuous to suggest that there are more people who don’t have access to the law because they are renters,” he says.
The bill would require landlords who offer rental units in a building to get the landlord’s permission before giving a copy.
A tenant could ask for a copy when renting out the unit in a condo or duplex, but would only get one if she was willing to pay more than the legal minimum rent.
A landlord could also charge a higher rent if the tenant had not signed the lease and was evicted, for example.
Tenants could also ask for an eviction notice, but that would require a landlord to provide a copy to the tenant’s landlord before they would be allowed to sell or lease the unit.
If a tenant refuses to get her landlord’s consent, a tenant could be charged a court-ordered penalty.
The rent control bill has faced a number of legal challenges.
In June, a federal judge in Austin blocked it from going into effect.
But the law has not been challenged in any state, and landlords who choose to implement it will be able to do so.
Renters have been pushing back against the law for years.
In 2013, a group of Texas residents sued the state of Texas over the law.
The Texas legislature passed the Rent Control Act in 2014.
But it was vetoed by Governor Greg Abbott, who later signed a bill that would have created a statewide rent control law.
Siegel says that is an example of how rent control has become a political football.
“What is so alarming is that in a very liberal state, where people want to be the most progressive, there is no way they can do anything but push to pass a law that they want to pass,” Siegel tells Business Insider.
“There are no limits on how much they can raise rents, or what the minimum rent could be.”