The Santa Monica Daily Press recently reported that apartment rents are rising in the city, and poorer tenants are losing their homes or are getting priced out entirely (“Report: Rents rise dramatically, pushing out poor tenants,” April 12).
This outcome was inevitable. Rent control distorts property and real estate markets to such an immoral degree that single renters take up expansive apartments without paying great expense, while families lose the opportunity to rent larger apartments for themselves. On another note, middle- and upper-income individuals (and criminals like “Whitey” Bulger of the Boston Mafia) end up taking advantage of these ceiling prices, while the very people who were supposed to benefit see no return on the lower rent prices.
Furthermore, property owners who cannot earn a healthy return on their landed investments are more likely to demolish their properties and sell the land, thus creating housing shortages, which in turn invites an inevitable increase in rent prices, regardless of rent controls.
In the 1970s, my mother lived in Santa Monica, and she loved it. As a nursing student who passed her state boards the first time, she needed to live somewhere affordable. I doubt that she or any other college student could find affordable housing in Santa Monica today, in large part because of the backward rent control policies.
Like gun control, rent control only hurts the very people who were supposed to gain from those interventions. Santa Monica should rescind the rental control board, and let the market, free of government distortions, stabilize prices, and allow property investors freedom.
Arthur Christopher Schaper