Housing Crisis Leads to Renewed Support For Rent Control

As rents in the Bay Area have skyrocketed, cities are updating and introducing rent control ordinances. They are stoking age-old debates over the macroeconomic value of rent control.

1 minute read

June 1, 2016, 7:00 AM PDT

By Josh Stephens @jrstephens310

Rental Apartments

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"No fewer than eight Bay Area cities — from urban giants like Oakland and San Jose to small suburbs like Lafayette and Pacifica — have considered brand-new or significantly strengthened rent control policies in the past year. Debates over whether to adopt these policies and what form they should take have divided city councils, pit tenants against landlords, and raised perennial questions about the long-term value of an intervention that is considered extreme by many property rights advocates and counterproductive according to many economists."

By one estimate, the Bay Area added over 440,000 private sector jobs between 2010 and 2014 but fewer than 54,000 housing units. Meanwhile, evictions seem to be on the rise. In July, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the number of monthly evictions in the City of San Francisco, which has rent control, had risen 32 percent over the previous three years' average."

Many ordinances and proposals also restrict evictions to only those that are for “just cause,” so that landlords cannot evict long-term tenants simply to raise the rent on new tenants. In some cases, rent control is governed by an elected rent control board. Cities have struggled, often with nearly violent disputes, to find the right mix of protections for tenants without raising the ire of property owners."

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