Why Rent Controls Will Create Another Monster

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

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Calls for rent controls to be enforced on Auckland’s heaving rental market to stop price gouging will only create another beast, says Auckland’s landlord association.

Auckland Property Investors Association is responding to this week’s news of a rental agency hiking its rents on vacant apartments by 5 per cent a week during a period when pressure from students surged to record levels.

APIA vice president Peter Lewis says despite people thinking rent control provides long-term security for tenants, and tilts the balance of power away from landlords towards the tenants, they also create a Pandora’s Box.

“People who advocate for controls think they make for a fairer market in which households with lower incomes cannot easily be pushed aside by landlords keen to upgrade their property to a higher specification with a commensurate rent increase,” says Mr Lewis.

“In our opinion, controls reduce the supply of lower-end property to the market because there is no money in creating affordable housing if landlords can never raise the rent to market rates.

“Slower supply growth then exacerbates the basic pricing problem. Those landlords who do rent out rent controlled properties tend to do minimal maintenance because, when supply and turnover in the market are limited by rent caps, landlords have little incentive to compete to attract tenants. Rent controls also mean that landlords may also become choosier, and tenants may stay in properties longer than makes sense as when they move to another rental property they may lose the benefit of the less-than-market rent that they have been paying.

“Once people move into a rent-controlled place, they are incentivised to never move out, because it is so cheap. A family may move into a large rent-controlled property. Over the years the kids grow up and leave, the husband dies. But the widow stays on alone in the property that is now far larger than what she needs, she stays on because it is cheap. In doing so she denies that property to another family that actually needs the space. Rent control doesn’t work. It doesn’t help the poor. It helps the middle class. There is some evidence that those living in rent-controlled flats in New York tend to have higher median incomes than those who rent market-rate apartments.”

Mr Lewis says that overseas experience shows stringent enforcement of rent control results in largely adverse outcomes such as undersupply, long waiting lists for tenancies, black market activity, little maintenance of rental properties, urban decay, and sometimes even eventual abandonment of such buildings.

Not convinced, take a look at the video below by Nicole Gelinas from the Manhattan Institute on why price ceilings on rent will only hurt renters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=312&v=oJvTTGOHFkU

“In the local context, this proposal ignores the current law that restricts landlords to only charging a rent that is commensurate with other rents for a similar property within the area, and that tenants have the statutory right to appeal to Tenancy Services if they feel that their rents are unreasonably high.”

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