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< Back to question Are rent caps a good idea? Show more Show less

Rent caps, which set limits on permissible rent charges or cap annual rent increases during tenancies, have been adopted by many cities as a way of curbing rising rents. But do rent caps actually work? Do they keep city rents affordable? Or are they part of the problem?

Rent caps are irrelevant on their own Show more Show less

Without additional legislation, rent caps are irrelevant.
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Rent caps are irrelevant without eviction protection for tenants

Without eviction protections, rent caps are useless. Landlords can circumvent the rent cap by raising the price to the rent cap's limit. Then, they can simply evict the current renter and replace them with a higher-paying tenant.
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Proponents


Context

If landlords are free to evict tenants on a whim, rent caps are irrelevant.

The Argument

Evection protection is beneficial to renters. Landlords have been known to evict tenants without notice and without good cause. Recently, laws have been put in place to make sure landlords don’t do that due to COVID. Outside of the emergency, landlords could still raise the price. Without these laws, landlords are free to evict tenants at will and replace them with higher-paying tenants.[1] Rental caps are to make sure that landlords can only rent out a property for a certain amount of money. It’s so they can’t raise the prices exponentially. But even the strictest rent caps in the world are rendered useless if renters are not protected from arbitrary evictions. If a rental cap stopped at $100 a month and a family was paying $60 a month, the landlord could still raise the price to $100. Eventually, the family would be evicted if they couldn’t keep up with the payments. Rental caps have no effect on whether landlords can raise the price. The price can still be raised if it doesn’t pass the cap. The most important thing renters need is eviction protection.

Counter arguments

Rental caps can very well protect people against eviction. Usually rental properties are very cheap initially. They were made to be available for most working people who needed cheap housing. That’s why they’re so popular. With a rental cap, landlords can’t raise the rent too high. During COVID, the government is providing aid for families who need extra rent for their living places.[2] Renters can ask for extensions, reduction, and a rent freeze. Therefore, there’s not going to be a problem till the program ends. Families still have time to pay or find a new place to stay. Rental caps aren’t the true problem. In fact, they provide a financial buffer. Having a cheap place to live will take care of most of the problem while the government takes care of the rest.

Premises

[P1] Without eviction protections, landlords can evict tenants to circumvent rent caps. [P2] Rental caps are irrelevant because they do nothing for renters.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Landlords can only rise the price to the maximum of rental caps, which isn’t a lot. [Rejecting P2] Rental caps are a financial buffer.

References

  1. https://jacobinmag.com/2019/11/rent-control-housing-crisis-affordability-supply
  2. https://www.cnet.com/personal-finance/eviction-relief-ends-july-25-update-on-rent-freezes-strikes-and-what-to-do/

This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jul 2020 at 13:50 UTC