Protesters call for end to prohibition on rent control in New Mexico
SANTA FE, N.M. – About 30 years ago, the state of New Mexico passed a law saying cities counties and other municipalities cannot pass ordinances that would control rent. Now, many people are coming together saying that needs to change.
More than 50 protesters gathered outside the Roundhouse Saturday afternoon, chanting and holding their signs. They shared their stories of frustrating rent increases.
“My rent increased 40% this year. My paycheck did not help, Santa Fe workers, rent control now,” said a Santa Fe renter.
Her story is not unique. Fed up tenants came from across the state to raise their voices because they feel powerless with New Mexico’s current laws.
“We are stuck in a situation of how do we come up with moving money? First and last month’s rent somewhere else. So we are stuck. We have to stay and pay the amount, and there was no reason to increase it that much,” said the Santa Fe renter.
Last session, there were a handful of bills that addressed the issue of rent control, but none of them made it out of committee. They were heavily criticized by landlords and real estate agents, who said these bills would be disastrous for their companies and would push developers out of the state.
“Well, I counter, what is really disastrous is somebody being evicted because their rent has gone so sky-high they can’t afford it anymore,” said Sen. Brenda McKenna.
McKenna says this isn’t just an Albuquerque and Santa Fe problem, she’s hearing tenants across the state are struggling with rent prices out pacing paychecks.
But this year, lawmakers like McKenna say they can’t reintroduce their rent control bills.
“The significant roadblock is really the short session, right? Because when we have 30 days, it’s very limited what bills get heard. We have to go through the governor’s office to put it through his or her call,” said McKenna.
McKenna has joined 12 other senators and representatives and sent a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, urging her to also call for an end to the prohibition of rent control in New Mexico.
“We are pleading with the governor, please put this bill on her call because we really don’t want to wait until 2025,” said McKenna.
The last day to introduce legislation this session is Jan. 31. If the governor doesn’t put rent control on her call by the end of the month, lawmakers will have to wait until next year to introduce their bills.