COVID-19 Brings New Urgency World-Wide For Rent Controls

A speaker at a rent control rally surrounded by signs advocation rent control
Seattle, Washington rent control rally.

Before COVID-19, there was evidence that investor influence, which dammed up attempts to prevent rent control measures, is crumbling.

The past year in the United States, Oregon led the way with ‘cost of living’ (COL) plus a maximum 7% annual rent hike allowance.

In the midst of COVID-19 come new regulations in the Netherlands to limit rent increases to COL+2.5%.

In Oregon, after celebrating the introduction of rent controls, renters might well question the annual boost to rents that are permitted. Under the approved scheme, rents are allowed to double in 10 years, lifting the cost of renting well beyond the limits of affordability for many tenants.

By contrast, Ontario, Canada allows COL — there is no ‘plus XX%’ gravy added to the meat of the increase. (To keep this in perspective, however, it should be noted that in the past this was applied to all rental housing but now applies only to ‘legacy’ rental housing of a certain age.)

The Netherlands adds the gravy, but only a smallish 2.5% amount.

Encouraging the construction of new rental accommodation is the usual reason for ‘incentivizing’ landlords by waggling excess profits under their nose.

If Oregon’s 7% seems excessive, at first blush Ontario’s 0% seems draconian. The impact on the actual construction of new rental accommodation needs to be examined closely, however. When Ontario removed all rent controls for  new buildings, a massive increase in rental construction was promised. It never happened.1

Does the Netherlands’ 2.5 above COL strike a more reasonable balance? Read about their new rent controls DutchNews.nl: New Controls For More Affordable Rentals And Starter Homes

Footnotes

  1. For a pre-COVID-19 discussion of rent controls, try: Rent Controls — Panacea Or Pariah?

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