Rent Control, Undermaintenance, and Housing Deterioration

by C. Peter Rydell, Kevin Neels

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Abstract

Rent control confers its benefits early and extracts its costs late. Initially rent reductions are solely price reductions, with tenants getting the same quantity of housing for less money. Over time, however, landlords react to revenue losses by reducing maintenance expenditures. The resulting housing deterioration lowers the quantity of housing services tenants receive, gradually eliminating the price reduction benefit. The authors estimate that each year 8 percent of the remaining relative price reduction gets converted into relative quantity reduction via undermaintenance.

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