Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Rent control would worsen affordable housing shortage
By Grassroot Institute @ 12:27 PM :: 3921 Views :: Cost of Living

Rent control will worsen the affordable housing shortage

by Matthew Reade, Grassroot Institute, Sep 9, 2016

Some of Hawaii’s political power players have looked to rent control as the answer to the statewide housing shortage. But if other cities in the U.S. and abroad are any example, implementing rent control in Hawaii would hurt the people it’s supposed to help.

Rent control is a form of price control. The government mandates lower rents, which in theory provides relief for tenants.

In practice, however, the benefits of rent control are fleeting. With prices held artificially low by government decree, rent-controlled housing vanishes from the market immediately and rarely returns, as tenants lucky enough to snag a rent-controlled apartment do everything in their power to avoid losing it, even if moving would better suit their needs.

After all, if you had an apartment with extremely cheap rent, why would you ever leave? Rent control effectively traps people in a single apartment for the rest of their lives. With all the low rents locked up, few people are able to enter the housing market at all.

Rent control also results in long waiting lists, as we already see in Hawaii with 12,000 new rental applications for Section 8 housing this year, and only 300 vouchers expected to be issued.


A Wahiawa family signs up for section 8 housing. This year 12,000 applicants joined wait list, and only 300 rental vouchers will be issued.

Rent control also disincentivizes further housing development, reducing the supply of affordable homes even in the face of this increased demand. Developers are loathe to pour resources into rent-controlled housing projects which will splash red ink across their balance sheets. Instead, they will construct luxury apartment complexes or commercial buildings, evading the risk to their bottom line which unprofitable rent-controlled apartments present.

In the long run, as landlords see their profit margins disappear to rent control policies, they stop investing in upkeep and basic maintenance for the units they own. In places where rent control policies are particularly oppressive, some landlords abandon their properties altogether.

After all, if landlords have no fear of renters moving out, why should they spend money to improve the property; especially if the rent money is so low. When New York City implemented tough rent control policies during the 1970s and early 1980s, over 300,000 apartments were abandoned over an 11-year period, according to one analysis.


This rent controlled complex in Richmond, CA fell into such disrepair that it was evacuated as “uninhabitable”.

In San Francisco, 31,000 rent controlled units now sit vacant. The New York Times stated that small time landlords just give up and leave their apartments empty, “It’s just not worth the bother, or risk, of being legally tied to a tenant for decades,” said one landlord.

Crumbling apartments become notorious for evictions and crime until finally, an enterprising developer may simply decide to blow it up and build pricey McMansions and condos for the super wealthy.

Of course, there’s nothing innately wrong with building high end housing, but what’s missing is the middle. When the housing ladder is broken in half, it’s very difficult to climb up. That’s why 93% of economists across the nation agree that rent control, “reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.”


This abandoned San Francisco rent controlled apartment was demolished to make way for high end housing.

Under rent control policies, no one wins. Hawaii’s policymakers should look instead toward dismantling the Aloha State’s massive regulatory bureaucracy, so there would be enough housing for everyone. In Tokyo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, a complete overhaul of building regulations and a simplified permitting process have kept prices low for decades. To meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents, we should look to successes that provide housing for all.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii