Rent control never stays “mild,” it only gets stricter and stricter

  • “Mild” rent control is the camel’s nose in the tent. 
  • Rent control pays tenants every month to vote for pro-rent-control lawmakers and to demand lower and lower rents.
  • Rent control is not a housing policy. It is a political power grab. It mobilizes tenants into a voter bloc that keeps demanding ever-lower rents, demands that politicians ignore at their peril.
  • “Mild” rent control is always open to amendments.
  • San Francisco’s 40-year-old rent control law began with a 7% annual rent increase cap. Today, over 125 amendments later, the annual rent increase cap is now 60% of the inflation rate.
  • During rent control, the Cambridge City Council enacted a requirement that all condos sold after the enactment date had to be tenant-occupied and rent-controlled. It was a huge, huge loss of property value to all the city’s condo owners, but it expanded the tenant voter base and ensured tiny rent increases and stricter and stricter rules.
  • “Rent stabilization,” “just-cause eviction,” “tenant protections,” “protections for elderly” – all pathways to full-scale rent control.
  • The reputation of all the well-off tenants in rent-controlled units prompted calls for a “means” or income test. It got nowhere. Why not? Middle-class tenants vote more reliably than lower-income tenants. It’s all about the votes. 
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