In my home county, Montgomery County, Maryland, rent control is on the agenda after County Executive Marc Elrich and a county council majority each released competing proposals to cap annual rent increases.
Adam Pagnucco responded with a series of posts at Montgomery Perspective about the prospect of rent control. His series begins with a great rundown of the economics literature on rent control, and continues by examining the effects of rent control in DC and Takoma Park respectively, with reflections from his personal experience living in a rent-controlled apartment in DC. In his conclusion, he cites the anemic pace of new housing construction to argue for a real way forward: instead of rent control, give the county’s recent liberalizing reforms time to work.
I contributed a post to the series demonstrating the effects of rent control on condo conversions within Takoma Park, which has had strict “rent stabilization” since 1981. I was able to exploit a natural experiment by examining one of the city’s boundaries, Flower Avenue, to be able to claim the rare causal effect: rent control caused condo conversions of 15 percent of multifamily buildings.
In a follow-up post, Adam links to a Takoma Park city report from 2017 which noted that Takoma Park’s young adult population declined from 2000 to 2015, and that no new multifamily rental units have been constructed in the city since the 1970s – before rent control was adopted.
Mercatus research assistant Eli Kahn helped draft this post.