Can Rents Be Capped or Controlled?

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Ask most West Texans and they'll tell you. The economic boom in the Basin is blowing up their wallets, trying to pay rent that don't stop rising.

"To be honest with you, they scare me," Midland Building Official, Steve Thorpe, said. "When I got here, I paid just under $700 a month for an older one-bedroom apartment. I'm hearing that that same complex's one-bedroom apartments are pushing $1,000 a month."

Rents in the Basin are rising so much that people are calling it rent gouging. NewsWest 9 received your e-mails and your calls so now we're answering these questions for you.

Can the rents be capped or controlled?

We took your questions and our cameras to the City of Midland, who told us state law prevents them from regulating the cost of rent at all.

"There are some rules that the landlord needs to give a tenant, if he's going to raise the rent, at least 60 days written notice that it's going to happen but that's really about it," Thorpe said.

Next, we went to the Permian Basin Apartment Association, serving rental units in 16 West Texas counties. They told us they're bound by state law too, so we took our questions even higher to the Texas Apartment Association.

"Texas law does not allow there to be rent control measures," David Mintz, Vice President of Government Relations for the TAA, said.

Let's take a look at that law. It reads that rents can be controlled only under a housing emergency like a hurricane or other weather-related disaster or if the governor approves it.

State officials said apartments are treated as private businesses and can't be interfered with.

They predict prices will come down if the demand goes down.

"Bring more product to the area and help alleviate some of that demand," Mintz said.

But for the Basin, that brings up another question.

Will this oil boom need to bust before rents finally come down?