HB 131: Letting Local Government Enact Rent Control
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Rent control is the ability of government to impose arbitrary price caps on the amounts that landlords can charge renters to use their space. In Utah, current law says:
A county, city, or town may not enact an ordinance or resolution that would control rents or fees on private residential property unless it has the express approval of the Legislature.
Representative Jen Dailey-Provost is sponsoring House Bill 131, which would repeal this law. While passage of this bill would not itself enact any rent control laws, it would open the door for many local governments to do so.
Even pro-government economist Paul Krugman agrees:
“The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and — among economists, anyway — one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that ”a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.” Almost every freshman-level textbook contains a case study on rent control, using its known adverse side effects to illustrate the principles of supply and demand.”
Rent control is not a viable long term solution to affordable housing, as it inhibits investment and discourages the creation of new housing supply in an arbitrarily restricted market.