Why Rent Control is a Flawed Tool

Scott James reports on the ironic application of rent control laws in San Francisco, which results in people of relatively modest means subsidizing the housing of the extraordinarily wealthy.
February 19, 2012, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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James profiles a group called the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, an organization that advocates for small-time landlords, that is trying to introduce means testing into rent control application. According to James, what ends up happening in many rent controlled properties (any property built before June 1979 qualifies) is that "mom-and-pop investors" (30 percent of the city's rental property owners), who James implies may be less well-off then their tenants, suffer with expenses that rise faster than rents.

With the supply of rent controlled properties being depleted by willful vacancy, demolition, and conversion, and rents rising across the city, affordable housing opportunities continue to shrink. It's clear that a tool is required to help preserve affordable housing, while allowing small-time landlords to make money from their investments, but it's unclear if rent control (at least is its present application) should be that tool.

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Published on Thursday, February 16, 2012 in The Bay Citizen
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