Rent Control

October 8, 1941

Report Outline
Rent increases in defense industry communities
Housing Crises and Rent Laws in the World War
The Housing Shortage of the 1920's
Rent Control in the Present Emergency

Rent increases in defense industry communities

Serious shortages of habitable dwellings for rent have been reported by cities in all parts of the United States where defense industries are located, and the consequent rise in rents has brought a pressing demand for rent control legislation. Last winter the Consumer Division of the National Defense Advisory Commission suggested a model rent control bill for enactment by state legislatures, but since none of them adopted the measure, Price Administrator Leon Henderson has recently urged Congress to approve provisions in the federal price control bill which would authorize the President to establish rent ceilings for defense-area housing.

At the request of the Division of Defense Housing Coordination, the Work Projects Administration has been conducting surveys of dwelling vacancies in defense areas since the beginning of 1941. Of 98 cities and towns where the vacancy survey was completed in the first six months of this year, the percentage of habitable vacant dwellings for rent was less than 5 per cent in 97 communities, and in 66 of these communities it was below the critical margin of 2 per cent. In 28 cities and towns the ratio of habitable vacancies offered for rent was less than 1 per cent of total dwelling units.

A complementary study of rent changes was carried out in 58 defense-area communities at the request of the Office of Price Administration. Some rent increases were reported in every community, and in 26 of the cities and towns studied, rents had been raised in more than one-third of all rental dwellings. The average amount of such increases was more than 20 per cent of the rent previously charged, while increases of more than 100 per cent were reported in one Florida town and one community in Louisiana. Surveys in 20 additional communities completed since the first of August have revealed similar conditions. According to W. P. A. Administrator Howard Hunter, the smallest percentage of vacancies was found in relatively low-rent dwellings, while the largest percentage of rent increases had occurred in the houses and apartments occupied by families in the lower income groups.

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