Publications

- November 1, 2019: Vol. 31, Number 10

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Rent control redux: Why it continues to be poor public policy

by Randall Zisler

The rise of inequality, the silent crisis of affordability and rental insecurity, and decades of stagnant real wages for much of the working middle class all have reignited calls for rent control, especially in those cities with rapid property appreciation and rental growth. Renter groups clamor for protection, and politicians in many, but not all, cities are eager to accommodate this cry for relief.

A just society should embrace a strong safety net, and government, in principle, can and should play an important role, especially where private markets fail. Rent control as redistribution, however, especially if imposed at the local level, is not an appropriate means to achieve that end. This article reports rent control in its many forms is an unalloyed bad; its effects are pernicious, and the intended beneficiaries — not the lucky ones who find a controlled unit but the renter class as a whole — suffer the most. Rent control is a blunt instrument; its benefits are caprici

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