"If you wanted to destroy a city's housing—short of bombing—the best way to do it is rent control," says Cato legal associate Trevor Burrus.
While most cities in America long ago got rid of rent control, New York remains a bastion of government-mandated limits on what landlords can charge renters. About 50 percent of New York's rental market is affected by rent control or rent stabilization, policies that keep rents artificially low and produce housing shortages, higher overall housing costs, and all sorts of corruption.
The court case Harmon v. Kimmel may finally bring an end to rent control laws that have been on the books in one form or another since the 1940s. James D. Harmon owns a building in Manhattan where the tenants are paying rents that are about 60 percent below the going market rate. After losing various legal battles at lower levels, Harmon has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his argument that rent stabilization is a form of takings that should be prohibited under the Constitution. The Court has not yet announced whether it will hear the case but has asked the state and city of New York to respond to Harmon's argument.
Cato's Burrus wrote a friend of the court brief on the case and explains why rent control and rent stabilization are bad at promoting affordable housing and abridgments of economic freedom.
About 2.34 minutes. Shot and edited by Joshua Swain.
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