Wirepoints' Glennon: Rent control would intensify housing crisis
A Chicago Democratic lawmaker's second attempt at eliminating Illinois' rent-control ban would predictably worsen the state's housing crisis – or solve it in a negative way – the founder of an online news outlet said during a recent interview.
"If you want to see the supply of housing plummet, pass rent control laws," Wirepoints founder and executive editor Mark Glennon said in an email interview with Chicago City Wire. "Ironically, maybe there's some perverted logic to that. We won't be needing much housing in Illinois if crazy ideas like this continue to drive people out of Illinois."
With rent control bans in place in most of the United States, politicians shouldn't tell landlords how much to charge their tenants because the results could be disastrous, Glennon said.
"The value of rental properties would plummet if politicians get to arbitrarily force rents down," he said. "That valuation reduction might initially mean lower property-tax assessments on those properties, but the lost tax revenue would have to be recouped from other properties – single-family homes and commercial property would see their bills spike up. Ultimately, assessment rates would have to be raised on rental properties too, compounding the nightmare for owners."
Glennon's comments followed Rep. Will Guzzardi's (D-Chicago) introduction last month of House Bill 255 to repeal the the Illinois Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997. As its name implies, the state's rent-control ban bars the state's municipalities from enacting laws to control rent on residential or commercial property.
Illinois is one of 35 states in the U.S. that ban rent control and Guzzardi has for a while been interested in lowering that number to 34. In February 2017, Guzzardi introduced House Bill 2430, which would have repealed the state's rent-control statute. That bill picked up nine co-sponsors but died in the House Judiciary's subcommittee on Real and Personal Property Law.
Guzzardi's HB 255 currently has three co-sponsors, Chicago Democrats Rep. Theresa Mah, Rep. Camille Y. Lilly and Rep. Celina Villanueva, and is assigned to Judiciary's subcommittee on commercial law. It's no surprise that the bill's sponsors are all Democrats, Glennon said.
"Rent control is among the most foolish and counterproductive ideas afoot with the far left," he said. "Who would build new apartments if Illinois politicians, of all people, got power to set rents? Merely discussing this idea is enough to scare developers out of Illinois."
That would worsen the state's housing crisis, Glennon said.
"Rent control inevitably means housing shortages, and rent-control advocates live in willful denial of the simplest rules of economics," he said. "If making things less expensive were as simple as passing laws forcing lower prices, why stop with rents?"