Against Rent Control
June 20, 2019
Dear Council Members,
I have owned a small 4-unit apartment building in Culver City for over 30 years. I depend on rental income for my living expenses. My living expenses increase every year. I maintain my apartment units in great condition. I am in the expensive process of completely renovating all units and building exterior.
Placing a moratorium on rent increases fails to account for increases in maintenance costs. The costs for trash collection, cleaning, gardening, security lighting, fire inspections, painting, flooring, appliances, plumbing, electrical, water, gas, insurance and laundry room increases every year. Property taxes alone go up about 1% each year. Trash collection has risen to over $300 per month on my little building.
If there was a moratorium on rent increases, I would not have enough income to renovate my units, and I would have to cut back on routine maintenance. I will not be unable to cut back on non-discretionary business taxes, property taxes, electrical, water, gas, trash and fire inspection expenses. A rent freeze may give me the business case to bulldoze my building and build condos for sale.
Apartments in some surrounding communities do not have moratoriums on rent increases. As rents in Culver City remain frozen, the rents in nearby communities will continue to increase. Rents will fall below market rates. The quality of Culver City housing stock will decrease. Crime will increase.
The Culver City income from residential rental taxes will also be frozen while the cost of providing city services continue to rise.
Renters who want to live in rent-controlled communities can live in nearby Santa Monica or Los Angeles. Different communities have different approaches to the quality of life. Culver City enjoys a high quality of life due in part because there is no rent control. Renters have a choice. Culver City property owners have no choice. Let’s not freeze rents in Culver City.
The benefit of rent control is it helps renters avoid the financial shock of rent increases. The evidence is very clear that rent control doesn't work the way it's intended to work. Economists think there are better ways to provide affordable housing.
Freezing rent while the cost of business continues to increase has no good future. I urge the City of Culver City examine alternatives to obtain affordable housing. A government-funded insurance program is one alternative.