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    • The town where I grew up in southern California is the target of a recent rent control effort. The Housing Board is gathering signatures to put a rent control initiative on the November ballot. Apparently, rents have climbed exponentially over the last couple of years and the Housing Board feels that it is driving out long-time residents.

      I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, isn’t it basically a futile effort to halt the natural flow of economic change? But on the other hand, isn’t it a good idea to keep some places sheltered from wealthcreep (I think I just made that word up)?


    • "Mixed feelings" is right. Rent control is one of those things I just don't know how I feel about.

      I rented for many years and I remember that feeling of dread when the end of my lease was approaching and I knew the rent was gonna go up. It was awful. Now I'm fortunate enough to own a house, but buying a house just isn't an option for many people. It's not fair that people who can't afford to own a home can be priced out of their homes by rent increases.

      On the other hand, strict rent control could also be seen as unfair to property owners. If they can't increase rents to cover costs or capture profits, there's less incentive for them to develop new rental properties, which means fewer units available to rent, which means higher rental prices on new units overall. The controlled rents may be good for long-term tenants, but lack of affordable new development can drive potential new tenants away.

      This isn't something I've spent a lot of time studying so I'm certainly not an expert on it, but it feels to me like a better option than enacting rent control laws might be to encourage more new development of affordable rental properties. More supply will help keep rents low for existing tenants while also meeting demand from new tenants.

    • I'm a landlord -- two single family residence rentals -- so should probably be against rent control. Yet for some reason I'm not. Mostly. I think. Perhaps that is because my properties are not covered by rent control and I've never experienced expenses that rise to become a significant percentage of income.

      I recently discussed a change in rent of one of the properties with my property manager. My comment to the manager is that I'd rather keep a good tenant than raise the rent. Raising the rent could force the current tenants out, leading to both lost income and the extra expense of finding new tenants. Also, no one knows what kind of tenants would move in. Screening only goes so far.

      My wife and I might not be typical property owners in that we are not looking to maximize income above everything else. We fired a previous property manager over that. They focused on maximum income and would delay maintenance if at all possible. Our experience says deferred maintenance tends to be more expensive in the long run.

    • I think if you are planning to hold on to those properties you have the right attitude. But if you need to sell and your rents are fixed at a low rate, that will impact your sales price directly. A new owner will not be able to raise the rents to the controlled market value without petitioning the city or until there is tenant turn-over. With the double-whammy of low income that can’t be resolved until there is tenant turn-over or city bureaucrats’ approval, sellers will have a tough time finding buyers with the same generous attitude you have. Buyers (and financiers?) will likely pass up properties that are not generating all the approved rental income.

    • Good point. That is what happened to my grandmother. Her house w/4 other rental units in the SF Richmond district went for quite a bit less than it could have had she not kept rents low for years.

      Single family residence rentals don't have that problem. I wouldn't have to sell to someone who wants rental property. I could sell to anyone who want's a home.