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?
No, rent caps are not a good ideaShow moreShow less
Rent caps fail at their basic function of keeping rents affordable.
New builds are almost always exempt from rent caps. They have no previous rental value against which the cap can apply and landlords are usually able to charge the first tenants in a new build whatever they want.
This incentivizes landlords to demolish older, capped properties and build new properties to lease for much higher rates. This hastens gentrification and an influx of new constructions.
Rent caps do the opposite. They protect against gentrification. When rent caps are not in place, landlords are free to rapidly increase rent prices each year, pushing lower-income tenants out of their properties and accelerating displacement.
Cambridge, Massachusetts is a case in point. When rent caps were repealed in Cambridge, rent prices shot up, pushing out lower-income residents and fueling gentrification.
Gentrification is bad.
[P1] Rent caps incentivize demolishing older properties to make way for new properties.
[P2] This hastens gentrification.
Rejecting the premises
[Rejecting P1] Without rent caps landlords can increase prices. This fuels gentrification far more than rent caps.