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Blame Rent Control for High Rents in Recession

May 19, 1991

In answer to Pamela Stevens' article (Speaking Out, "Rentals: Supply Siders Break Law of Economics," April 21), it is not landlords who are breaking the law of supply and demand; it is the intervention of rent controls in many communities that destabilizes the normal marketplace.

As we saw with price controls in the '70s, rent controls distort the normal supply/demand equation. Landlords, apprehensive of local governing bodies knuckling under to activist tenant groups (landlords are a distinct minority), tend to hang tough during a recession so as not to jeopardize their rental price base.

This threat of rent controls, or their potential, keeps rents artificially high as landlords wait out a recessionary period. Without the threat of rent control, landlords would be more willing to lower rents during slow times, knowing they could freely raise them at a later date as supply and demand allow.

As long as rent control is a threat or a reality, the rental marketplace will never reflect the normal supply/demand equation.

BILL MOVIUS

Palos Verdes

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