Rent Control in North America and Four European Countries
Regulation and the Rental Housing Market
Rent control, the governmental regulation of the level of payment and tenure rights for rental housing, occupies a small but unique niche within the broad domain of public regulation of markets. The price of housing cannot be regulated by establishing a single price for a given level of quality, as other commodities such as electricity and sugar have been regulated at various times. Rent regulation requires that a price level be established for each individual housing unit, which in turn implies a level of complexity in structure and oversight that is unequaled.Housing provides a sense of security, defines our financial and emotional well-being, and influences our self-definition. Not surprisingly, attempts to regulate its price arouse intense controversy. Residential rent control is praised as a guarantor of affordable housing, excoriated as an indefensible distortion of the market, and both admired and feared as an attempt to transform the very meaning of housing access and ownership.This book provides a thorough assessment of the evolution of rent regulation in North American cities. Contributors sketch rent control's origins, legal status, economic impacts, political dynamics, and social meaning. Case studies of rent regulation in specific North American cities from New York and Washington, DC, to Berkeley and Toronto are also presented. This is an important primer for students, advocates, and practitioners of housing policy and provides essential insights on the intersection of government and markets.