Monday, April 23, 2012

Bring Back Rent Control!

It's an economist's heresy, a sort of "only fools and Frenchmen" thing, to suggest, but for those who believe, I think rightly, that for various reasons we probably have "too much" homeownership in this country, some degree of "soft" rent control for long term tenants would probably need to be a part of a policy package to make long term renting attractive to people.

I'm not talking about a hard rent control policy which led to people still paying their 1945 rent in Manhattan, I'm talking about the recognition that long term renters, especially, should have some stakeholder rights in their units, and that they should, over the medium term at least, be protected from sharp rental spikes. Basically longer term renters should have some protections, including some degree of rent control, which ensure that they won't suddenly be out on the street. This stuff isn't just about helping tenants, it also helps to align owner/tenant incentives, giving tenants more stake in keeping the place up.