Rent Control in Burlington

Tonight we attended the Board of Finance meeting and the City Council meeting where rent control was discussed. First, I have a few comments regarding the board of finance meeting. Several issues were discussed. 

1.  They approved the leasing of new truck from Heritage Ford. I’m not sure why the city chose to lease a vehicle. Any finance person will tell you that leases are 99% bad for the lessee. This is why the car dealers love them. You usually pay a comparable amount you would pay for a loan, but at the end of the lease you have nothing, whereas at the end of the loan payments you can sell the car to help with the replacement vehicle.  It doesn’t make economic sense to me.

2. They approved $89,900 for an elevator at the Wyndham’s parking garage, which the city now owns.  It wasn’t discussed, but I wonder if the hotel is contributing anything to the costs? It made me wonder more, what kind of deal do we have with this parking garage?

3. Another topic discussed was a request from Burlington City Arts for the city to give them $1,000 for a recent event they had. Apparently, they asked for this money last year and it was given to them as something special, not to reoccur, but they have already become dependent on it.  Brendan Kelleher spoke against it why everyone else on the board supported it.  Brendan argued that it was supposed to be a one time thing and that Burlington City Arts wasn’t supposed to be dependent on it.  Thank you Brendan for sticking up for the tax payers!  It seems to me that if the city is going to handout money to one private non-profit, they should give to all of them!  Clearly not appropriate for the city to be engaging in.

Finally, the city council meeting.  I spoke up against the proposed rent control and due to the huge showing against it, the city council did vote it down.  Below are the comments I made:

Hello, my name is Jeremy Ryan and I’m a ward 7 resident.

I have a few comments regarding the proposed rent control resolution. While I believe 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 increase the supply by attacking the supply.

The proposed resolution almost assures a 5% per year increase in rent, not a reduction in rent. 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.

Excessive regulation, the recent reappraisal, and excessive property taxes have caused the high rents. The regulations make it too hard to build enough units of housing in Burlington. Regulations make the too few permitted units much more expensive, driving up rents. The Burlington Housing Authority staff themselves have been quoted as saying that they wouldn’t own rental property in Burlington because the City makes it so hard for landlords.

The city should reduce regulations to encourage rental investment and people to open their homes to others by renting out rooms or sharing housing, such as mother-in-law apartments and the homeshare program.

I spent several years in a town very similar to Burlington, except it had less code enforcement, housing regulation and property taxes. The rents were the lowest I’ve ever seen. Landlords and tenants got along just fine as there was plenty of competition for tenants. I was able to rent a unit for $235/month, with all utilities included. Where there is more competition like this, Landlords often advertise “move-in specials,” where rent is reduced for the first month or they will even pay for your moving expenses. I would like to see the same opportunities here in Burlington.

I urge the city council to work towards reducing the regulations and property taxes in order to make rents more affordable.

Thank you all for listening.

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