Rent Control: Pros and Cons

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Rent Control: Pros and Cons

By | October 1999
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Rent Control: Pros and Cons

Evaluate the pros and cons of rent control and rent stabilization in NYC.

Rent control is the government imposition of price ceilings on rent for apartments in certain areas of a city. The goal is usually to protect the rights of the poor. Thus, in a rent controlled or rent stabilized building, the amount of rent will not increase as quickly as inflation. While the moral side of rent control may have some appeal, in the long run the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.

Those who argue in favor of rent control say that it is the only way to protect lower-income tenants from landlords who overprice, and from being forced to move out of a neighborhood because they cannot afford the rent. Limiting the price that a landlord can demand helps maintain a city's ethnic diversity and prevents the creation of slums on the outskirts of the main city. Another thing that proponents say is that by linking rent prices to apartment maintenance and material improvements, rent control actually improves the state of housing. Overall, they argue that the goals of rent control can be reached if they are administered in a careful and just way.

The opponents, though, have both theoretical and practical experience on their side. First, rent control creates a market that is unfair for everyone. Since the rent is set at a lower than normal level, an unsatisfied demand is created. This increase in demand leads to an increase in the cost of rents in the uncontrolled sector. Thus, two types of rents are created: those that are unfairly cheap, and those that are unfairly expensive.

Another problem that is created is that landlords who own rent controlled apartments are often not able to earn enough money to adequately maintain buildings. This leads to run-down, poor quality housing. In many cases, landlords lose so much money that they are not able to even pay the debt on the properties, and they abandon them. Both of these effects have been...
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