The stated purpose of the new rent control resolution proposed by councilors Fiermonte, P-Ward 3 and Ashe, P-Ward 3 is to help fix high rents. While the resolution was written with good intentions, the practice of rent control does not work. The problem is based on simple economics. The supply is less than the demand and you do not fix the supply by attacking it.
The resolution urges “a simple but effective method of regulating the annual increase in rents while allowing property owners to recover reasonable costs.” It would require advance notice to tenants of annual rent increases of more than 5 percent and give them the right of a quick appeal to an unspecified board. Landlords would be required to appear before the board to justify the increase.
Enacting the resolution being proposed almost assures a 5% per year increase in rent, not a reduction. Furthermore, rent control will cause reduced investment in existing and new rental housing. The end result will be still higher rents, even less affordable housing and lower quality housing.
What caused the high rents? Excessive regulation, the recent reappraisal, and excessive property taxes are to blame. The regulations make it too hard to build enough units of housing in Burlington. Regulations are the mandates that make the too few permitted units much more expensive, driving up rents. Also, if we are to avoid sprawl, the cities like Burlington have to loosen up regulations to make more honestly affordable units.
The 2002 Mayor’s Affordable Housing Task Force Report quotes the Burlington Housing Authority staff saying that they wouldn’t own rental property in Burlington because the City makes it so hard for landlords.
The Burlington Libertarian Party urges the city council to reduce the regulation and property taxes in order to make rents more affordable. The city must understand that any attack on landlords is passed on to the tenants.
Jeremy Ryan, Chair
Burlington Libertarian Party
53 Avenue C
Burlington, Vermont 05401