Opinion: It’s a Myth that Top Economists Don’t Support Rent Control

New apartments in downtown San Diego.

New apartments in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Once again, the National Multifamily Housing Council is pushing outdated, obsolete ideas to protect the obscene profits of the country’s largest corporate landlords.

Let’s be clear: The NMHC is essentially the nationwide lobbying firm for corporate landlords who obviously have a strong incentive to oppose rent control. Their sole mission is to protect their ability to charge outrageous rents which are fueling the housing affordability and homelessness crises in California and across the country. Any “research” from real estate industry insiders, like the NMHC’s most recent industry-funded study, should not be trusted.

What should be trusted is economic consensus. Recently, a group of 32 top economists wrote a letter to the Biden administration saying that rent control is an effective tool to protect the poor and middle and working class. The economists also said that the real estate industry’s anti-rent control arguments are archaic and wrong. This is a major development in the rent control debate.

For too long, corporate landlords, landlord lobbying groups, and even reporters have pushed the myth that economists don’t support rent regulations. Now, 32 economists from such top universities as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Santa Barbara, American University, John Jay College, Columbia University, Bard College, and the University of Massachusetts very clearly are dismantling that assertion.

The economists note in their letter that, over the last few years, “We have seen the devastating impact of a poorly regulated housing market on people’s livelihoods, as already unaffordable rental prices outpace wage growth.”