Focus Point - Rent Control

Commentary by Pete du Pont
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Washington, D.C., is thinking about dumping one of the dopiest laws ever cooked up by the mind of a regulator: rent controls.

D.C. Rent controls are a legacy of Nixon administration price controls implemented nationally in 1971. Fearful that rents would spurt once the federal controls were lifted, the D.C. City council established rent controls in 1975. Almost immediately, D.C. Rental housing began to decline. By 1977, builders killed plans to build new units. Landlords converted properties to condos or cut back upkeep. Less rental housing led to a steep decline in the city's population and billions of lost dollars in tax revenue.

With no rent control more units will be built and rents will decline, as they did in Santa Monica, California when it ditched rent controls. When Boston dumped them, new construction led to a broader property tax base and tax cuts for homeowners. Any municipality considering rent controls should take notice.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.