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'Rent Control Makes No Sense'

June 01, 1985

Rent control is a negative law. It does not provide a single new apartment; it will not encourage maintenance. It is a clear admission by government that their housing policies have failed.

Why do our City Council members lack the courage to develop a positive housing policy? After seven years of rent control, why have they not sought positive answers to housing problems?

Perhaps the problem is that they have a vested political interest in landlord tenant unrest and do not want rent control phased out. Pro rent control groups site market place abuses, and elderly citizens on fixed incoems as their rationale. Of course this is sophistry, but let's force their hand. If these are the problems, address them directly. Phase out rent control and create a review board to monitor abuses (on both sides) and develop a subsidy program for elderly tenants.

This plan permits our council members to save face since it will be embraced by the rent control advocates with the most valid complaint, the elderly.

As you phase out controls, impose an annual fee on every apartment in the city. Owners will not object because, with decontrol, they will pass through the fee.

The fees collected would directly pay the difference between elderly tenants' rent and the market rate for their unit, just as certain federal programs now work. Elderly tenants could have their rents frozen forever. (How is that for a vote getter?)

This approach not only provides affordable housing to the elderly, but they benefit by safer and better maintained buildings.

JOEL SILVERMAN

Los Angeles

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