How bad is rent control when housing supply is artificially restricted by law?

Many of you have been asking me about this NYT article on the pressures for rent control in Silicon Valley.  If no (or few) new apartment blocks will be built anyway, what is wrong with rent control in that setting?

One effect is that rent control will limit the incentive for prospective builders to fight to overturn current building restrictions.

A second effect of rent control is that it will lower the quality of the apartment stock.  This outcome has some second best properties, since a lower-quality, lower-price selection of apartments is probably what the market would have delivered under freer conditions.  Still, quality will fall in inefficient ways.  For instance sizes of apartments already are given, so landlords will cut back on maintenance.  Rather than well-maintained but smaller apartments, we will see overly large but run-down abodes.

At rent-controlled prices there will be excess demand for apartments.  The “plums” will go to those who bribe, those who are well-connected, those who are skilled at breaking the law, and, to some extent, those who have low search costs.  The latter category may include well-off people who hire others to search for them.

So overall I still don’t think this is a good idea.  Even if the current housing stock is fixed, rent control probably will create costs in excess of its benefits, and without significantly desirable distributional consequences.

Addendum: In the comments, Kommenterlein adds: “The rental housing stock isn’t fixed – it will decline rapidly with rent control as rental apartments are converted into Condos and sold at market prices.”

And David Henderson comments.

Comments

Market rents on new construction + capped rents on current contracts + right to resell current contract to landlords seem to address most of Tyler's concerns. This allows you to divorce the distributional and efficiency aspects of rent regulation.

The capped rents allows current tenants to live in the apartments.

Resell rights mean that they face the full opportunity cost of living in SF. And if contracts are at market rate post-resell it also means that you avoid the corruption problems.

Market rates on new construction gives strong incentives to develop new apartments.

But isn't this the case with SF already? New construction after 1979 is exempt and SF has buyouts where the tenant can be paid to leave?
Often 'reselling' isn't to the landlord, but achieved by illegal subletting/AirBnB at the (higher) market rate, with the controlled tenant pocketing the difference (profits).

New construction after 1979 is not free of price restrictions.
http://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Prop-C-would-raise-new-housing-s-below-market-7388907.php

I'm not sure it does address Tyler's concerns. The right to resell back to the landlord doesn't reduce the landlord's incentive to skimp on maintenance, it amplifies it. The more the deterioration, the less the landlord would have to pay the tenant to leave (and the less the apartment would be worth as an Air BnB rental). And with respect to Air BnB, won't landlords seek to evict tenants who violate lease agreements by subletting?

But the biggest negative effects may occur not in the in other cities (in CA and elsewhere) where rent control isn't quite yet on the radar. This may serve as a wake-up call to landlords in those places to act now and do condo conversions or resell and have the buildings knocked down and redeveloped. And it may also suppress apartment construction. After all, as a developer, you wouldn't want to make the big mistake of having built a new apartment building just before the old/new dividing is established when line when rent control comes to your city in a year or two. Better to hold off until the dust settles or do something else with the property.

This is "screw over old contributors, but don't screw over new contributors."

Sometimes you can get new contributors dim enough to not realize that, after contributing, they, too, will be old contributors.

Don't forget grandma living alone in a 4 bedroom apartment.

Rent control hurts the young and favors the old (less than it hurts the young). It hurts the poor and favors the well connected. (Anybody remember Koch's rent controlled apartment in Greenwich Village?)

This. I live in SF, non-rent-control building, but a number are still set aside for "affordable housing." So many of my neighbors are old people that don't speak English, don't work, get SSI, and must be taking advantage of something like section 8 in my building.

I only live in SF because I work here. They don't work, they have no need to be here, yet I'm paying for them multiple ways: Through SSI, which they shouldn't get if they don't speak English, through section 8 that I pay through taxes, and through my rent which is artificially high due to restricted supply of market-rate apartments.

This is horribly, horribly immoral on any number of levels. These old people - assuming they should have been let in the country to begin with, since they obviously can't support themselves, should be living in Livermore or Gilroy. Some place cheap.

SF has grift-controlled apartments. When seemingly anyone may show up in the city and get welfare-related benefits, no wonder that it is a magnet for such behavior.

If your employer moved your work to a new location, paying all your relocation costs, moving you into a block of commercial space (where you work) and then solid apartment, condo, or single family on small lots with zero public green space and just roads, with livin costs 35% lower, you would be overjoyed - you just want a place to sleep and eat between periods of work?

You would have zero interest in paying more to get green space like running, walking, hiking, biking space, or park space for sitting in the sun, playing games or picnicking?

Your raising the concerns of a lack of green space if housing supply were increased suggests you think that it cannot be increased without doing away with those public amenities. This is obviously not true. One could build higher on the existing footprints of structures, and the same amount of green space would be available.

What the heck are you talking about?

The baseless assumptions and ignorance of path dependence evidenced in this post are astounding.

Rather than wondering how these people ended up in this situation, you fabricate a story in your head.

The issues you describe are real ones, but all you have to offer are anger and entitlement.

Oh, by "baseless assumptions and ignorance" do you mean "facts"? If so, you would be correct, it is quite astounding. Nothing fabricated here and it's no mystery how this situation came to pass. And yes, I'm angry because I think I'm more entitled to my earnings than old russian immigrants who don't speak english but want to live off of my tax dollars in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country. Very Angry. Very. Very.

As someone with marked socialist leanings but who has also lived in New York City, I truly do not understand the logic behind rent control except as a transparent tool for transferring wealth from the young to the old and from the new arrival to the well-connected local. Whatever strange narrative drove this policy 50 years ago has crumbled into incoherence decades since.

Less young vs old than new entrant vs established occupant. The whole market stagnates and connections matter most.

I think it is useful to think about this through the lens of North, Wallis, and Weingast's Limited Access order framework. Property in places like coastal California and New York City has an idiosyncratic value based on who owns it, who lives there, who wants to buy it, etc. These places have reverted to limited access orders where your legal rights derive from individual claims on economic rents. And they have the stresses, instability, and incivilities that are inherent in limited access orders.
Mike Munger ' s Euvoluntary Exchange idea fits here too. A large amount of economic stress is generated in these places because these policies put many people in a position where they lack similar alternatives in housing when they have a unit with either below market rent or property taxes.
These features make politically bitter local feuds an inevitable part of local character. When you depend on access to economic rents, all change becomes threatening.

>When you depend on access to economic rents, all change becomes threatening.

Yep. California's broken land-use in a nutshell.

The rental housing stock isn't fixed - it will decline rapidly with rent control as rental appartments are converted into Condos and sold at market prices.

Precisely. People think that rental 'supply' only means building new apartments.
This is not the case. 'Supply' of rental apartments also means existing apartments, especially
where the owner has the choice to rent it out to someone or sell it to a owner occupier.

I suspect that they'd move in the direction of Berkeley and make condo conversions extremely difficult with existing tenants (even for owner-occupancy.) So it would decline, but somewhat more slowly as existing tenants fought to stay in their current apartments (much like rent stab. / rent controlled apartments in New York.)

Yes, but even in this case you have two options:
1. Sell to tenant, converting the tenant to an owner occupier.
2. Sell to owner occupier, and then having the Ellis Act move-in provision.

The vast majority of apartments in these areas are large complexes, unlike in SF or other urban cities where small 2-4 unit buildings are ubiquitous. You can't simply "sell to tenant" or "sell to owner occupier" if the complex is 240 units. Remember that the area being discussed is pretty much entirely suburban and built out post-1950, very different from a Berkeley or SF or Santa Monica.

But you can, even in a large complex. You just sell each unit individually to either the tenant or convert the entire bidding to a condo or tenants in common.

In California, a building must be condo-mapped to be sold as condos, which generally means that you must make some infrastructure adjustments/investments and obtain different types of insurance. The entire building must be condo-mapped to sell any units, and of course the rules for condo-mapping are set at the local level. I'm not saying that it can't be done, I'm just saying that the release valve you mention already has a boatload of impediments in place that rent control advocates know how to exploit.

Operating a tenant protection system like that of New York City requires an immense regulatory apparatus, and even then the supply of rent-regulated apartments shrinks over time. The only way to maintain the stock is an immense subsidy program for new rental buildings--there aren't any rental apartments being built in New York without some kind of subsidy. New York City can manage the subsidies without provoking a backlash from the homeowners, because they have a vast supply of commercial buildings to tax. I'm not sure that the Silicon Valley municipalities are set up to handle any of that.

My understanding is that NYC still taxes large multifamily rentals a lot more than SFHs. Of course that makes it even harder to build without abatement, 421a, etc. I am also not sure how Prop 13 affects California and taxes.

You are certainly right about the regulatory burden and lack of supply, but I would expect restrictions on conversions nonetheless.

The rent control advocates know this, and have likely included measures similar to what exist in SF now - which greatly limit the number of condo conversions allowable. In SF condo conversion is restricted to buildings with four units or fewer, and a total of ~100 units per year. You apply for conversion via a lottery. The market has sort of gotten around this by creation of what's called a TIC (tenancy in common), which is vaguely like a co-op in NYC. The structure of TICs is harder to pull off with the larger apartment complexes that dominate Silicon Valley though.

Cambridge had ordinances that forbade converting a rent controlled apartment or taking it off the market.

Soon before the referendum that banned rent control passed in the state, a someone had a sign saying "In Moscow you can own and live in your apartment, but not in Cambridge."

Stockholm has a lot of experience with rent control. The following letter was sent to Seattle when considering rent control.

http://www.smartgrowthseattle.org/letter-stockholm-rent-control/

A similar letter could be sent to San Fransisco.

Also of note is that criminal gangs have become heavily involved in the black market trades of rental apartments i Stockholm. Several murders are linked to these dealings.

Here's a question: has rent control ever been so bad for a municipality that it falls in status relative to other municipalities.

For example, I lived in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica when I was getting my MBA at UCLA in 1981-82. As a libertarian fellow traveler, I knew all the arguments against rent control. I assumed rent control would be the long-run doom of Santa Monica.

But so far, that hasn't happened.

I looked up rent control laws on Wikipedia for examples:

"They remain in effect or have been reintroduced in some cities with large tenant populations, such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, California. Many smaller communities also have rent control — notably the California cities of Santa Monica, Berkeley, and West Hollywood[2] — along with many small towns in New Jersey. In recent years, rent control in some cities, such as Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been ended by state referenda.[3]"

Those towns aren't exactly East St. Louis for status decline.

Why haven't my economically orthodox expectations of 35 years ago come true?

Santa Monica has buyout provisions. Quite possible that the rentals are being converted to owner occupancy this way.

Santa Monica rent control board
Buyout Notice and Information
https://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Rent_Control/Forms_and_Petitions/Buyout_Rights_Disclosure_Form.pdf

When the tenant (finally) leaves or dies, the rent can be reset at the market rate. This prevents Stockholm like queues from forming.

"As of January 1, 1999, owners may rent most units to new tenants for market rates."
Owning rental properties in Santa Monica
https://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Rent_Control/Information_and_FAQ/Owning%20Rental%20Property%20in%20Santa%20Monica.pdf

As a small landlord (among other things), rent control with vacancy decontrol is pretty much what I do anyway. Good tenants are hard to find, and expensive to replace, so it makes sense to keep the rent below market when you have a stable and reliable tenant, and only bump it when a new tenant moves in. So a regulatory regime which requires that procedure amounts the relatively innocuous type of regulation that forces all market participants to adopt what most participants consider the best practice anyway. Of course, that type of regulation discourages commercial innovation, but it's not as destructive as other market-distorting regimes.

"Why haven’t my economically orthodox expectations of 35 years ago come true?"

Perhaps because rent control is an insidious but effective way of gradually forcing poor people out while purporting to help them? Ultimately, you end up with a few, token 'legacy' low-income folks in rent-controlled apartments, while the rest are completely locked out of the market by the gradual decline of rental units in the market. You end up with a place where rentals make up an ever smaller percentage of the housing stock.

Housing isn't what makes NY or the other cities desirable. It's something you deal with to get the other perks.

Spacious 100sqft apt with classic rust finished faucets and complimentary roaches. Easy access to best nightclubs and jobs in the country.

You're changing the question a bit if you go from "falls in status relative to other municipalities" to "being like East St. Louis."

There's a lot of ruin in a country, or in a municipality. Rent control is generally adopted by municipalities that have high demand. (And where it is adopted by municipalities of falling status, the rent control becomes effectively null, as is in the case in New York with many outer borough apartments where the market rent is lower than the rent stabilized rent.) I would say that rent control has caused relative status declines of some of those cities relative to Seattle, or Houston, and relative to what could have been. There are, of course, always lots of factors (DC's rent control was adopted in 1975 and mostly affects buildings built before that point; surely the low points for DC came in the immediate aftermath of that law, but was it the cause?)

Rent control tends to reduce supply and drive away the middle class (and also affects demographics and propensity to have kids). Some of the cities that have rent control (such as small cities in New Jersey) match it with zoning that makes it simultaneously very difficult to build rental units, so they effectively keep the poor out as well. It's certainly true that attractive cities where only the well off can afford to live can be high status, depending on how you judge status.

Real estate and housing is a reflection of the polity as opposed to a cause of it. In a rich country you can have the most ridiculous and restrictive housing policies and rules, because the country can afford it.

What I would do is look at the State of California as a whole. Look at where everyone lives. That is a reflection of the effects of policy. There will be places that are magnificent, but what about the rest? A jewel surrounded by hovels will get better over time as the hovels get worse.

But isn't California losing status? The fastest growing cities are the TX Trio(Dallas, Houston, Austin). You have Utah and Oregon, plus Las Vegas, Phoenix, Atlanta, and the Research Triangle ascending.

There are tumbleweeds blowing down Sand Canyon Road in Palo Alto as all the smart money moves to Phoenix.

There are many different types of rent control, so one must be extremely careful when generalising.
It is interesting that there is much support for rent control, but not home value control, even though they could be considered equivalent.

Rent control and Land Controls (minimum parking requirements, density restrictions, zoning) act like a price control and a quota control respectively.
Economists have been very outspoken about rent control (a price control) but there is little recognition that zoning ordinances are acting like a quota system.

To use an analogy, suppose the government came in and said that bread now had to be sold at 1c per loaf. There would be a shortage.
Now suppose that the government came in and said that bakeries could only bake and sell 1 loaf of bread per day. No price control. There would be a shortage *also*.

Now what is rent control + land control together? A bakery that can only bake 1 loaf of bread per day AND sell it at 1c. Now do you see what the problem is?

Rent control devalues the future income stream. This devalues the property and makes it profitable to convert the property into owner occupation.
This removes the property from the rental pool. Over time the number of rental properties will decline as they are converted away, or demolished (assuming market rates apply to new property and there is no heritage ordinance preventing demolition). So when newcomers arrive, most of the housing stock is locked up
and not available to rent.

In the San Francisco case, there is no rent control on buildings after 1979. So new rentals are uncontrolled.

However, cities are spatial. In established areas it may not be possible to demolish a rent controlled property due to heritage or preservation ordinances.
Vacant land is often far from the city centre, where it is outside of most people's reasonable daily trave time budgets. So it is not useful building more there.

With law changes always being a threat, it is almost always safer to build owner occupied properties than a property for rent. And so this is what happens.
Few new rentals are built, and instead any growth in housing is done in the condominum sector. A council or legislature that is happy to intervene like this
is also usually happy to restrict development, which kills of new housing even if it were profitable to build.

San Francisco perhaps is a good example of how market rates *alone* are not enough to get new housing. The zoning ordinances and approval processes need to go hand in hand with that, or nothing will move.

This depends on the exact form of rent control. If the rent is always constrained to e.g. 50% of market rate, then landlords will sell. But if rent control simply means a cap on rent hikes, while allowing a reset to 100% of market value when the existing tenant moves out, there's less reason to sell.

Of course, this still privileges existing residents over incoming residents; but then so does owner-occupation.

Plant rent control and a thicket of governmentalization must follow. Intervention dynamic.

"And since this is a place where a $1 million starter home is considered a steal, those renters also include well-paid tech workers at some of the most valuable companies on earth. . . . Google employees routinely show up at City Council meetings to speak out about rents and evictions." It's rich to watch Silicon Valley libertarians plead with government for rent control. Here's an idea: increase the taxes on the profits of Google and Apple and the rest and use the proceeds to build low cost public housing. Of course, that's a silly idea, about as silly as rent control for budding Silicon Valley billionaires.

It’s rich to watch Silicon Valley libertarians plead with government for rent control.

What on earth makes you think Silicon Valley is full of libertarians?

"Over all, Mr. Obama won the election by 49 percentage points in the Bay Area, more than double his 22-point margin throughout California."

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/in-silicon-valley-technology-talent-gap-threatens-g-o-p-campaigns/?_r=0

When the world is full of your enemies, it's hard to keep them all straight.

While I also doubt that Silicon Valley is "full of libertarians", I don't think that showing that voters voted against Mitt Romney (certainly not a libertarian by any stretch) proves that it isn't full of libertarians.

There is something different, politically, going on in Silicon Valley, for sure. But it's not really libertarianism. Here is an interesting analysis looking at the views of the "tech elite."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/31/the-myth-of-silicon-valley-libertarianism.html

Very reminiscent of 20th century Communists, with their desire to have society managed comprehensively for the public good, and themselves doing the managing. People with those views usually end up finding that the management model that works for small ventures staffed by high-paid, ambitious young people doesn't work for large ventures staffed by unintellectual, unambitious 40-somethings (the bulk of the population).

It seems likely that rent control allows people who would have taken on roommates in order to make rent more affordable to live alone instead. This actually results in fewer people being able to live in a city, even holding housing supply constant.

Also, if not all units are rent-controlled, rent control drives up rent on uncontrolled units even farther, not only by the mechanism above, but also by allowing people who might have had to move away due to higher rent to stay, or attracting new residents not willing to pay market rent. This leaves those willing to pay market rent bidding up the rent (or sale price) on a smaller poll of uncontrolled units.

The only real affordable housing policy is increasing supply. Anything else that makes it more affordable for some people necessarily makes it less affordable for others.

1, Re rent control limiting builder incentive to overturn current building restrictions: Did I read this right. If the builders didn't have the power to stop rent control, what makes you think they have the power in the other domain of building codes or restrictions.

2, AirBNB will be very popular among the renters in a rent controlled, capacity limited, area as they will be able to have a second income from renting to tourists.

The renter class will capture the scarcity premium, not the landlord.

Now if we could just restrict cars to local residents we could really do well with Uber.

Hell, you could make a great second income with AirBNB and Uber. And, if you rented your place through AirBNB and needed to stay in the area, you could sleep in your car.

1. If the builders didn’t have the power to stop rent control, what makes you think they have the power in the other domain of building codes or restrictions.

I suspect that there exists a reasonably large group of voters who at least lukewarmly favor an "all of the above" solution including both rent control and increasing construction. It is much easier to convince those moderate voters of the wisdom of building more to keep rents down than the sophisticated argument against rent control from a long term perspective. Building more is intuitive; the argument against rent control is not.

Arrow's Impossibility Theorem holds, and the population may have Condorcet cycles. Depending on the order in which various ordinances are put to a vote and what happens in intervening times, it is quite possible for a political campaign to increase potential construction to succeed now but not later, after rent control is passed and saps its support.

2. AirBNB will be very popular among the renters in a rent controlled, capacity limited, area as they will be able to have a second income from renting to tourists. The renter class will capture the scarcity premium, not the landlord.

Yes, people will try this. The laws and regulations surrounding AirBNB rentals of rent controlled apartments are complex. It is generally either illegal or violates a specific clause about sublets in the lease, but the only people who tend to know where it's happening have little incentive to inform-- so long as the landlord is in on the plan. I suspect that the landlord will still capture some of the scarcity premium, because otherwise landlords would have a great incentive to evict a rent controlled tenant for using AirBNB.

I am waiting for the renter to share the AirBNB surplus with the landlord by both winking over violation of the lease agreement and charging an extra cleaning fee to cover someone using the room, other than the renter.

There is always a market, particularly when something violates a lease but there is a way to capture some extra money. I am sure the rent control laws do not cover service and clean up fees.

It seems to me that the only way out is to make sure than enough new houses are build.

And that is not very difficult. Even with modest land use once can build extremely high density appartment buildings of very good quality.

I think this problem can rather easily be solved if the local city council would have a good look at the zoning regulations and free up some possibilities.

To take it one step further:

I think you would be hard pressed to explain rising rents because of lack of space. Any parking lot the size of several cars can be used to build an apartment block which can house maybe up to 2 dozen families.

I think it has more to do with a grid-locked political process than anything else.

Tyler writes:

At rent-controlled prices there will be excess demand for apartments. The “plums” will go to those who bribe, those who are well-connected, those who are skilled at breaking the law, and, to some extent, those who have low search costs. The latter category may include well-off people who hire others to search for them.

To get a better idea of what "low cost" means, here's an example of the cost of an apartment search in New York City:

Of all the things the rest of the world finds shocking about the NYC real estate market, the thing that tends to astonish the most—besides how little square footage you get for your dollar—is the notorious broker's fee: If an agent helps you find an apartment to rent, you'll likely pay a broker's fee of around 12 to 15 percent of a year's rent.

For the well-off, search costs are only low relative to the incomes earned by most others. The article goes on to describe a number of web sites that can be used to help those with more time than money find apartments that avoid those broker fees. If you think about it, it's an area that's crying out for disruption.

I think that Tyler's use of "those who have low search costs" means precisely "those with more time than money."

In response to the rent control meme, @amcafee tweeted "Posited: people who understand markets greatly prefer micro-apartments."

Fair.

As a non-economist landlord, I don't think you can quantify the economic costs of doing violence to the property rights of investors simply because 50% + 1 of voters covet those investors' carefully planned and executed gains. It deeply saddens me that so many bright economic thinkers have talked themselves into believing that government price controls are just fine as long as they are smartly done. First they came for the landlords...

One way to conceptualize the economic role of rent control is that it provided the economic near equivalent of a fixed rate mortgage in an era before condominium ownership had come into being (cooperative apartments are not nearly as good a substitute because all owners of a cooperative apartment building cross-guarantee each others debts making your neighbor's business your own).

Housing limits help to drive up housing prices which the pundits like to see.

Rent control is a non-solution to a problem created by politicians who favor non-solutions. It does not work, it makes everything worse and prevents real solutions. No wonder the left wing politicians love it.

As someone who has experienced the rental market in 4 cities (including NYC) I can say that Rent control is correct in saying that it is the "type" in combination with the local conditions (supply, turnover, depth) that determine the net impact. As property prices have risen, and the local job market has improved, NYC has effectively eliminated rent control for most of the renter population (the big exception being Public Housing). There is simply too much money on the table and beneficiaries of rent control are no longer working class/immigrant families, but hip twentysomethings. the property owners have also become more sophisticated and begun to initiate buyouts, foreclosure, and property development. However, poor property enforcement legislation (eviction is almost impossible for non-specialists), high turnover, and an inegalitarian distribution of property ownership has created a culture of low trust, high deposits (four months rent being very common) and low liquidity in rental market. Luckily the scale of NYC combined with effective local transit enables people to (relatively) easily move down to a cheaper locale with minimal disruption (in terms of jobs, family or friends).

A good progressive land value tax would work wonders here. Are you a NIMBY? Great! Stop development, increase your land value, push yourself into a higher and higher tax bracket. Money collected could be used to promote development at all income levels.

So there is a role for government - tax the land - but put people don't like to talk about it because it's tax and govt. Land tax. Even Milton Friedman was for it.

Even if it makes total sense, and it mostly does, it's too disruptive and goes against people's basic understanding of what polices are even on the table for dealing with this issue.

No, not really. Milton Friedman talks about property taxes.

"This may come as a shock to you, but the least bad tax is the tax on the unimproved value of land - the Henry George argument."

"Land Value Taxation is endorsed by Milton Friedman"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yS7Jb58hcsc

Entirely possible to do. Australia and Canada have it.

Isn't the "market" solution for a new San Francisco to arise? In other words, what these folks want isn't necessarily "San Francisco," what they want is "a vaguely youth oriented place filled with techies that is generally ethnically diverse, socially liberal, and (maybe most importantly) effortlessly affluent." If they've run out of room in San Francisco, why can't they recreate that vibe in Coalinga - or, maybe more realistically, Fremont? And before you dismiss this as impossible, remember that SF itself didn't always fit the description above.

Well, this is happening.

Portland and Seattle are taking the overspill. Vancouver also. All these cities are complaining about rising rents.

"When the 21st Century arrives in a half dozen years, the Information Superhighway will mean that you won't have to live in expensive locations like the San Francisco Bay area anymore to found a cutting edge high tech start-up." -- The Conventional Wisdom of 1994.

Some other lessons from lower Manhattan "rent stabilized" buildings ("rent control" in NYC is something more extreme that's not available to new tenants)

Credit history requirements go way up (must be absolutely spotless)

No updating of apartment beyond legal minimum. Tenants are expected to be long-term and willing to invest in their own new kitchen cabinets, etc.

Demands for payment up front increase.(up to a year of rent)

"Nobody in Sicily hates anyone more than a rent controlled landlord in New York hates his tenants." -- "The Bonfire of the Vanities"

Perhaps the biggest effect of rent control in SF is not so much economic as political. Rent-controlled tenants aren't directly harmed by the housing shortage, so they can safely oppose new buildings on aesthetic grounds. In other words, rent control is the glue that binds the coalition that dominates San Francisco: existing rent-controlled tenants plus the property-tax capped homeowners.

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