Rent Control Debate Heats Up As Renters Continue To Struggle

While some economists argue that rent control restricts new construction and encourages poor maintenance, proponents of the policy say it's necessary to mitigating skyrocketing rental costs that are putting more households on the brink of eviction.

1 minute read

November 2, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Basement Apartment

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

With rents around the country growing at astronomical rates, the conventional wisdom on rent control is starting to shift, writes Alan Ehrenhalt.

"In 1946, renowned economists Milton Friedman and George Stigler of the University of Chicago published a paper they called Roofs or Ceilings: the Current Housing Problem. They argued that controlling rents allowed landlords to neglect their units and resort to devious means to force their tenants out, enabling rent increases."

But as more and more Americans struggle to pay rent––according to Ehrenhalt, "Americans now pay out an average of 37 percent of their monthly income on housing"––the debate over the benefits of rent control is heating up again. While critics of rent control argue that rent stabilization regulations stifle new construction, research shows little evidence proving as much. 

This past year, rent control has taken center stage in many cities as policymakers debate how to help struggling renters and stabilize the rental market. Ehrenhalt describes the arguments in favor of rent control, including the "continuity and stability" crucial to healthy neighborhoods. Read more details in the source article.

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