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EDITORIAL

Rent control: High court may take up important case

Posted: Jan. 9, 2012 | 1:59 a.m.
In parts of America, an apartment is a place to live for a few years while saving for a house.
That’s less likely to be true in a dense urban metropolis, where land values are so high that even well-to-do families can occupy apartments for a generation or more.
That means tenants — who vote — generally outnumber landlords. When costs go up, landlords seek to raise rents. The tenants squawk. The political result? Rent control.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “exposed the deeply antidemocratic nature of rent control in Pennell v. City of San Jose,” points out New York University law professor Richard Epstein in the Jan. 4 Wall Street Journal. “If the government thinks some high social end is served by allowing tenants to sit on someone else’s property in perpetuity, then it should use public funds … to buy or lease the premises for market value which it can then lease out to particular tenants.”