Rent Control: It's Not Fair

Rent Control: It's Not Fair

Escerpt #2 of 3: An Open Letter to State Representative Will Guzzardi, House District 39, Illinois General Assembly:

Why Rent Control is a Bad Idea for Chicago… and Everywhere Else.

IT’S NOT FAIR: If you don’t believe “it doesn’t work,” consider the “it’s not fair” argument. Like many similar measures, rent control is an attempt by the government to pass a cost that should be borne by all to one specific group. In this case, the cost of affordable housing is being placed squarely on the shoulders of the owners of housing.

This is justified on several grounds, but in particular, on the assumption that property owners are wealthy and can afford the cost. Worse, property owners are often portrayed as heartless business people who are motivated only by a desire to exploit their tenants. While there are examples of wealthy, uncaring property owners, this is by no means typical. At RPGB, we take great pride in working cooperatively with our community, and giving back to those in need. The majority of our members – indeed, a majority of property owners in the Chicago area – are not wealthy. We are business people who are trying to make a living like everyone else.

Whether you believe property owners are wealthy and heartless or not, the more important question we would like you to consider is, whose responsibility is it to help low and moderate-income families to find good, safe housing in desirable neighborhoods? If you believe that it is fair to place this burden on the shoulders of just those people who own the housing, then you can justify rent control and many other government mandates.

At RPBG, we believe that affordable housing is a public good and that the cost of providing this good should be equitably shared by all. We have been frequent critics of regulations that seek to shift public burdens onto private sources of revenues.

This is especially unfair when one group of private owners is called on to bear the cost of a significant public good. Affordable housing is a vexing problem, and solving it will cost many millions of dollars. To place the brunt of this cost on one small group of people is extremely unfair. It also adds to the burden already placed on property owners reeling from years of ever-growing city mandates and fees on rental housing. As property ownership becomes increasingly expensive, and as compliance with city regulations become increasingly difficult, fewer people will become property owners in the first place, and the increased costs of these mandates will continue to be passed along to renters.