A blog reader responded to yesterday’s post about rent controls (and inclusionary zoning) with an excellent point: If you’re against rent controls, then you must also be against artificially low property taxes for homeowners. And I would agree with this.
One of the points I was trying to make yesterday was that if you’re in a situation where your revenue is capped but your operating expenses are free to grow based on the market, then you are likely heading down an unsustainable financial path.
This is true if the revenue is in the form of rent and this is true if the revenue is in the form of property taxes. A good example of this is California’s Proposition 13, which is the principal thing that keeps property taxes artificially low over on that coast.
Similar to what I argued yesterday with rent controls, it too creates a misallocation of housing. If you’re sitting on historic and artificially low property taxes, then you are now highly incentivized to stay put where you are. Why would you move only to have your taxes mark to market?
So this line of thinking cuts both ways, whether we’re talking about renters or homeowners.