University of Regina economist says rent control policies bad idea

 

By Terrence McEachern, Leader-Post

REGINA — A Regina economist is cautioning that recent calls for rent control legislation is not the best way to deal with the availability of affordable rental units.

“The short answer — not really,” said Jason Childs, an associate professor of economics at the University of Regina. He explained rent control legislation can be divided into two types — those that set a cap on rent and those that control rent increases gradually.

Jason Childs, associate professor of economics at the University of Regina, argues rent control policies could have negative impacts on the people they are designed to help. Instead, he says social housing and subsidies to low-income renters should be considered. Photograph by: Don Healy , Regina Leader-Post

Regardless of the type, Childs argues rent control legislation doesn’t help the people it is supposed to help. He said in places with rent controls, there is a tendency for tenants to hold onto low-rental units even if their economic situation improves. Childs cites actress Faye Dunaway as an example of someone who lived in a rent-controlled apartment in New York City for several years before finally vacating.

“If you’re already in an apartment, you’re golden. If you’re trying to find one, you’re out of luck,” he said. “The distribution of the effects of this policy is really, strongly negative for younger folks and new arrivals. So, we’re going to be protecting established residents at (their) expense.”

Childs also argues rent control legislation would negatively affect the quantity of rental units. Developers would be faced with a disincentive through the introduction of uncertainty in terms of demand and the ability to make a profit in the rental market.

This is combined with a quality problem with rent-controlled units.

“Basically, if you control the rate at which I can increase the rent … (and) if I’m not making money at this, I’m going to let maintenance slide,” he explained.

The issue of rent control arose earlier this week when a group of tenants living at 2221 Robinson St. spoke out about approaching monthly rent increases as high as 77 per cent on Sept. 1. Many have said they would rather move than pay the monthly rent increases — in some cases — from $675 to $1,195 for a two-bedroom apartment.

On Tuesday, the matter reached the floor of the Saskatchewan legislature during question period when NDP MLA David Forbes argued for rent control legislation in light of the Robinson Street situation.

However, Childs argues more social housing and subsidies to low-income renters are better ways to approach the issue.

In terms of the Robinson Street rent hikes, Childs admits 77 per cent is a huge monthly rent increase and that he has sympathy for the tenants, but also questions the fairness of tenants receiving a reduced rent when young people and new arrivals to the city are paying market value.

“This is less than a zero-sum policy,” he said. “Society as a whole loses.”
Source: Leader Post

Bayonne rent control advocates try for third time to overturn city’s vacancy decontrol law

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Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 12:26 PM | By Rafal Rogoza / The Jersey Journal 

 

Rafal Rogoza/The Jersey Journal Keep Bayonne Rent Control volunteers standing by the Avenue C ShopRite Wednesday afternoon collecting petition signatures.

BAYONNE — Bayonne rent control advocates are hoping third time’s a charm as they mount another effort to overturn a city ordinance that allows landlords to move some units out from under rent-control protections.

“We are currently circulating petitions asking registered voters in town to agree to allow all of the people of Bayonne to make the final decision on this matter,” Douglas Wasama, chairman of Keep Bayonne Rent Control, said in a press release. “That’s the democratic way.”

The dispute began in November 2011, when the city passed a vacancy decontrol ordinance that allows landlords to remove an apartment from rent control restrictions if the tenant willingly moves or is legally evicted. Prior to the change, the units would remain under rent-control guidelines forever.

The first petition to repeal the ordinance was submitted on Dec. 5 but was declared invalid by City Clerk Robert Sloan because the petitions did not have each name of the five-member committee listed on every page of the petition. Continue reading

Montgomery County Executive Leggett proposes 11-point renters plan

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Short of rent control, proposal seeks more transparency

by Kate S. Alexander,  Staff Writer | Wednesday, July 18, 2012

As the Montgomery County Council discusses renter rights, County Executive Isiah Leggett has offered an 11-point plan to strengthen the county’s voluntary rental guidelines.

Leggett (D) opposes rent control because it could stifle economic development and limit affordable housing stock.

Still, he said he believes changes are necessary to better serve renters.

Leggett’s plan comes as the county’s Planning Housing and Economic Development committee continues discussions of rental issues, during which Councilman Marc B. Elrich floated the idea of rent stabilization.

“I feel it is not wise to pursue that effort,” Leggett said of rent stabilization, adding “but I do believe there are things we can do.”

Leggett’s proposal would not prevent large rent increases, but rather make increases more transparent. It would give tenants more warning, justification for increases and time to find alternative housing, he said.

Mandatory reporting of rent increases, unit by unit, would be required under Leggett’s plan, as would enforcement of existing fines of up to $1,000 for landlords who do not submit a required rental survey. Data collected by the survey would be published on the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) website. Continue reading

Some buildings may come off rent control

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Proposal will either go to City Council or voters

by Stephen LaMarca | Reporter Staff Writer | 07.15.12 – 12:05 am

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A property owners’ group has petitioned for a measure lifting rent control from certain Hoboken apartments, and the City Council must decide whether to hold a special meeting to schedule a public hearing on the proposal or let the voters cast their ballots on a referendum question this November.

City Clerk James Farina informed the council on Wednesday night that a petition circulated by the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA), a nonprofit alliance of property owners, has acquired enough signatures to force the council to take action on it.

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If approved, the proposed changes would remove certain rent control restrictions that have been a mainstay of Hoboken apartments since the early 1970s.

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“Obviously, nobody is playing fair.” – Ron Simoncini
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The amendment would remove rent control completely for new tenants moving into condos or buildings with four or fewer rental units. For all other buildings, the amendment would allow landlords to raise the rent by any amount when a current tenant moves out. However, the new rent would be subject to rent control laws after that. Currently, landlords can apply for a “vacancy decontrol” of 25 percent every three years or longer, when a tenant moves out.

The city’s longstanding Rent Control Ordinance, passed originally in 1973 and slightly amended several times since then, limits annual rent increases to a few percent a year, depending on federally decided cost of living increases. There are exceptions to allow landlords to make a profit if they upgrade the building, but any major changes to the law have been fought by tenant advocates in the last 40 years. Continue reading

Tossed-Out $20 Tenants Turn Millionaires in Mumbai

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Residential buildings sit at Napeansea road in Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

By Pooja Thakur on June 25, 2012

 

Thousands of rent-controlled tenants in Mumbai paying $20 a month, and often less, are being turned into millionaires by developers tearing down crumbling colonial mansions to build luxury towers for the rich.

South Mumbai, including a stretch of prime land hugging the Arabian Sea, has about 500 dilapidated stone structures dating back to the early 1900s with a potential redeveloped value of about $40 billion, according to Pujit Agarwal, managing director at Orbit Corp. (ORB), a Mumbai-based developer that derives about 80 percent of its revenue from redeveloping old buildings.

“For generations, most tenants were living a hand-to-mouth existence, barely making two ends meet,” said Agarwal, whose firm is one of around 75 vying to oust Mumbai’s rent-controlled residents. “Now, with redevelopment, these tenants have become multimillionaires overnight as capital values of the properties they occupied soared.”

Home prices in Mumbai have climbed to a record 10,833 rupees ($200) per square foot, doubling in three years, according to Liases Foras Real Estate Rating & Research Pvt, a research company based in the city. Continue reading