New Research Changes the Narrative on the Effects of Rent Control

As California voters consider a ballot initiative that would greatly expand rent control around the state, researchers are working to inform the populace about rent control.
October 22, 2018, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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California voters will consider Proposition 10 in November, which, if passed, would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995.

Put simply, Proposition 10 would enable a large expansion of rent control throughout the state of California.

Given the incredibly high stakes of such a consequential policy change, the debate over the potential effects of rent control has been much more public in recent months. Enter into the fray a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California, Manuel Pastor, Vanessa Carter, and Maya Abood.

The study, titled "Rent Matters: What are the Impacts of Rent Stabilization Measures?" finds that rent control has "far fewer negative impacts than is generally thought." In fact, rent control "is a useful tool in a crisis."

According to the study's abstract:

Surveying existing research on rent regulations, we find that moderate rent controls do not constrain new housing, do promote tenant stability, may lead to condo conversion (which can be limited with other tools), and may deter displacement from gentrification.

Across town, at the University of California, Los Angeles, Alisa Belinkoff Katz has taken a different approach to presenting new information on the subject of rent control by writing a history of the policy in Los Angeles. "The study is the first major publication of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, which was founded in 2017 with a mission to bring historical perspective to contemporary policy issues," according to a website promoting the new paper.

Exemplifying yet another approach, probably more familiar to academic audiences, is a study from researchers at Stanford University in January 2018, which found a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks, depending on whether you're a tenant, a landlord, or looking for a new apartment in a crowded market.

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Published on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 in USC Dornsife
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