Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Rent Controls Result In Tenant Abuse By Landlords

Because rent controls result in more renters for apartments than apartments available and because the rent controls prevent landlords from raising rents, landlords gain the upper hand. This results in them providing less service to tenants.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine moved from rent control free Dallas to Boston. She found an apartment in the fashionable Back Bay area. On the day of her move-in, she noticed that the apartment had not yet been painted. She called the landlord, he told her, "We don't paint apartments, if you want it painted, paint it yourself." This kind of attitude, she told me, was unheard of in Dallas, where it was expected that an apartment would receive a fresh painting before a new tenant moved in.

She also lives on the 4th floor of her building. When she looked at the apartment, the landlord told her the elevator was in the process of being fixed ( I emphasize this apartment house is on Commonwealth Ave near Copley Square in the nice Back Bay section of Boston). It is two and one-half years later and the elevator still isn't fixed.

Another friend of mine is looking for an apartment in the rent-controled city of San Francisco. She finally found listed on Craig's List a micro-studio apartment within her budget, $1300 per month. On Monday, she emailed the landlord. He responded:
I am showing the apartment for 15 minutes on Thursday between 9:00 AM and 9:15 AM.
Who would ever be able to get away with such limited showing times, where there is real competition and no rent controls? No one.

Bottom line: Rent controls lead to tenant abuse by landlords, a tenant can't get an equal footing with landlords because the law prevents the only way a tenant can get an equal footing, through free market prices. You gain an apartment in a rent controlled city by being willing to take abuse from landlords, who can't charge market rates and who at market rates would be much more responsive to complaints and problems.



  1. I think this is a mischaracterization. The tenant and landlord are both victims of government abuse. The landlords are just responding to the extra demand and expense heaped upon them by government. If he knows he will rent the apartment by showing it for 15 minutes, it would, in Randian terms, be self-immolation to make a useless appointment with someone who has almost zero change of getting the apartment anyway.

    Rent control has historically created slums. That's not the fault of the landlords.

    1. I agree. Both are victims, but remain hostile to each other instead of the government.