There’s lots of talk in our Legislature and in the other Washington about rent control, renter’s bill of rights and what to do about homelessness.
I believe these types of actions, putting more restrictions on landlords, will have the effect of making less housing available and probably even less affordable. My reasoning tells me that anything you restrict you get less of. Therefore, restrictions on landlords and how they manage their rentals will tend to force some out of the market. Ask yourself, if you have a very valuable asset that you now have little control over how it is priced and even who you rent to, what would you do?
I’ll tell you that in many cases the choice would be to sell that asset whether it goes to another individual landlord, a big rental company or a private owner or occupant. In one case, you end up losing the rental to an owner occupant, reducing availability of rentals. I believe this also has a chilling effect on new apartment construction as investors want to have control of their cash flow and to be sure that they get a reasonable rate of return.
I would not defend those who take advantage of renters, raising rents unfairly and without notice, not maintaining their properties, etc. I realize that not every landlord has the best interests of their renters in mind but like most businesses, if they treat their customers poorly they will have more turnover, more expenses and more problems. It’s not a perfect world but to put more restrictions on landlords will not help the situation. We need to make it easier to build and to rent properties, not more difficult and expensive.