It is a given that the Builders' Association will challenge this on the grounds of the state law that forbids rent control. How likely is it that the city law will withstand that challenge?

It all depends on the wording, but if the law can be construed as putting the affected property under public management while code violations persist, the City remains within state law.
So what happens when the apartment is low-rent to begin with and needs to raise prices to pay for the maintenance in question, or service the debt from an improvement loan? I'd bet that most of the truly affordable housing in this area is run by local owners who run on thin margins--exactly the types that this ordinance would hit the hardest. I don't suppose Sawant is proposing a new grant program to help with that.

That's the thing with rent control, it looks like a no-brainer and a free lunch (no public funds needed!) but in the long run it leads to all sorts of unintended consequences that hurt the people it purports to help. There are better ways to deal with this.
People staying in substandard housing is not really a great long-term solution, but I guess this helps for now.

If the substandard apartment is renting for $1000, and if the landlord is correct that somebody would pay $1100 for it, with this law they might now hold at $1000 if the fixes are expensive. But this increases their incentive to bring it up to code and rent for $1200... Sooner or later everything goes to the people who can pay most, unless we do something.

And keep in mind "substandard housing" can mean anything from real problems to a cracked kitchen counter tile.

Some history: First they made substandard housing "illegal" by creating an inspection program and charging huge fines for landlords that don't comply. Then homelessness shot up. Correlation, not necessarily causation, but still. It had to have removed some quantity of our crappiest units. And it's not like that helps the people that can only afford the crappiest units.

So now they've created another path to report these "substandard" units. In intent it's to have a form of rent control on the books. In practice it'll remove more housing as small-time landlords give up or upgrade their units to market rate.

I really don't think the council is intending to push more people onto the street. But what are they thinking?
@5: Exactly.

Housing vouchers are much better policy. Boost people up into a higher quality bracket while incentivizing maintenance and construction of new units. Of course there's a downside: the price tag means that if you're a certain Councilmember you wouldn't be able to tantalize your most vulnerable constituents with promises of a free lunch (don't worry, the next generation of poor folks will pick up the tab, plus interest).
@7: I'm sure we humans can devise a system that gets rent money into the hands of those who need it while avoiding the flaws of Section 8. Its problem is that it doesn't pay enough, and landlords are permitted to discriminate based on income source. Those would be better targets for legislation IMO.
Economically, two things happen now:

Landlords will upgrade the properties to market rate, and price-out the low rent market.

Financial coercion by social policy will reduce the owner's incentive to improve marginal property – gradually lessening the stock of quality lower-cost housing, creating a delta between supply and demand, causing rent to increase for everyone else.

Fucking geniuses.
May I suggest a state income tax.
I'm guessing none of the armchair economists here have to actually live in the squalid, broken down, vermin-infested dumps that would be the object of this legislation...
It's so typical of Sawant to single out Hagland as the villain in her latest melodrama. This town is full of nasty landlords who would make Haglund look like an angel. They know every scam and workaround in the book, and will learn how to get around this also. But look! She's taken down Ivar's nephew (or whatever he is)!
Expect substandard properties to be sold to developers, torn down and replaced with high rent properties.

Then we'll have more homeless on the street if they don't have the resources to move someplace else.
The headline and talking points seem reasonable, but the specific items that could trigger a violation are really broad. For instance and "deflected" foundation? I would guess a large percentage of homes pre 1950 that are perfectly fine have some foundation issues a renter could use this law for.
This is good, it will drive up rents by driving out cheap rentals and thus drive out criminals and the low-IQ types who contribute nothing to society. It'll increase the tax base too.

Please wait...

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