rent control ??
My husband found this article, see link below. Scroll down to where it says "VI is Pro-Tenant" . If we are reading this correctly, it sounds like once you move into an apartment in the VI and sign a lease, rent cannot be raised?? That just sounds too good to be true, so I'm thinking we are misunderstanding something. If anyone can clarify, that would be great. We live in Las Vegas and there is NO such thing as "rent control" here, so we are not familiar with this concept at all. Thanks!
I have rented my downstairs apt. for decades and never heard of or really encountered any rent control type of legal or governmental problems beyond simple licensing and tax.
Dealing with tenant problems in the court system is extremely time consuming here and in most places I think, -- I have financially eaten a few months rent over the years rather than take tenants to court about things and have just tried to get better and more reliable tenants over the years.
I don't know anything about that 10 year old article on 'pro tenant' you posted even after reading it, but do know the local courts are overwhelmed and considered generally pretty pro tenant in their disposition which is not always a bad thing when unscrupulous landlords could be involved. My tenant relations have always been conducted face to face and I live on the property with daily contact so am in a different situation than an off island owner. But I personally have never heard of rent control as a governmental policy being an issue here in any way.
I might raise or lower the rent depending on upgrades or what the market situation might bear. It's rare that I increase the rent on a tenant upon an extension of the lease or renewal. I wait until the property is vacant and up for rent and then adjust accordingly, if necessary.
I have taken tenants to small claims court on occasion.
It depends on the situation.
It pays to have an excellent lease
Huh? from LexisNexis:
§ 834. Maximum rent ceilings
The maximum rent ceilings in the Virgin Islands shall be as follows--
(1) for housing accommodations, rents in force and effect on July 1, 1947;
(2) real property used for business purposes or on which superficiary houses are constructed, rents in force and effect on July 1, 1947;
(3) for newly constructed housing or business accommodations first rented on and after the aforesaid maximum rent date, or accommodations changed on or after such date, so as to result in an increase or decrease of the number of dwelling or business units in such accommodations, the first rent for such accommodations after the change or maximum rent date as the case may be, but in no event more than the maximum rent provided for such accommodations by an order of the Rent Control Officer upon application properly made; and
(4) for housing accommodations or real property used for business purposes or on which superficiary houses are constructed, not rented on July 1, 1947, and not covered by clause (3) this section, the last rent in force and effect prior to July 1, 1947.
A great example of useless and unenforceable laws that should be purged from the books.
Or perhaps simply just enforced! It sucks that there's actually a law on the books that could make it more appealing for middle class people to relocate to the VI (when almost every other factor except the beautiful sea makes it rather unappealing or impractical to relocate there), and that law is being ignored. I hope someone takes it to court, ha ha. I do realize that such a law might place undue burden on landlords, so this post is mostly just me venting my frustrations. However, I do think it's important for every place to have a strong and vitalized middle class... if the VI already does, great. But if it doesn't, perhaps that's one reason for the governmental corruption and crime rate. Not that I really know what I'm talking about, just thinking out loud.
There's no need for rent controls in the VI as we have a robust rental market with no shortage of units in every price range. Its hard to know why that law was enacted in the first place. One of the things you'll find here is that there is very little enforcement of any laws. This is good in some ways but not in others.
Read through the VI Code on this topic and was scratching my head too, until I read the last entry in that Rent Control sub-chapter. It says that these regulations will exists until the emergency situation is over. So I did a little looking around to find out what the emergency was...
In the late 1940's on St. Thomas/St. John in particular there was a shortage of housing. The result was rent increases, evictions, etc, unfair practices toward the tenants. The municipal government stepped in to help mange this emergency housing situation and created the rent control laws the article spoke about from MayaN's post, the same ones Gator's Mom found in the VI Code on Nexis.
I found a case from the 50's where the rent control law is being questioned, as to whether the emergency was over and should be appealed. I didn't keep looking but would guess that at some point it was decided that the emergency housing situation was over, and as such the regulations no longer needed.
In the Rent Control Subchapter it does have a note at the bottom that says "Amended May 23, 1969, No. 2469, § 5, Sess. L. 1969, p. 124."... but when I tried to click the History link it didn't go anywhere. So maybe in the 60's the regulations ceased to exists.
You said you were thinking out loud... here are some comments in reply...
The article and rule referenced 1947... that's 69 years ago... the rents were probably $10 a month back then... if that much. Different time.
1947 aside... you seem to be asking more along the lines as to whether the landlord can raise your rent. If you have a lease for a year... the rate is fixed for that year period. But once the time comes to renew the lease they can increase it for the new lease period.
Not heard of any cases (among my friends/acquaintances) where the landlord gouged the tenant with a huge increase at renewal time. Generally landlords are happy to have a good tenant. They might increase the rent by something but by an unfair amount... not sure how often that happens. The tenant could of course say no way and leave, or say no way and stay... and evicting a tenant becomes an ugly situation.
As for whether the VI has a strong middle class... I think so. It also has very wealthy... and it has people with low-income who are managing, and it has poor. Maybe some stats would be useful, the last census might have them. Will have to look.
MayaN, following up on statistics... here is a "Profile of Selected Economic Characteristics" for the Virgin Islands, from the last census, 2010. You can review the figures for median income, household income, poverty level info etc. at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_DPVI_VIDP3&prodType=table.