Anorak | Is Labour really being this damn stupid? Rent control don’t work

Is Labour really being this damn stupid? Rent control don’t work

by | 27th, January 2012

IS the Labour Party so very stupid? Something I simply could not believe in Polly Toynbee’s column today. And believe me, I’ve seen an awful lot in that column over the years but nothing to quite match this:

But Labour will adopt one good policy. They will bring back rent controls.


Which blithering idiot is proposing this? Which flapheaded addlepate is suggesting that we currently have too much housing and that therefore we should have less?

It’s a fairly simple proposition: if you reduce the price of something below the market clearing price of that something then you’ll have a shortage of that something.

So, we introduce rent controls. I think we all know that that does not mean we’re going to be increasing the rents that landlords can charge. We’re obviously going to be reducing them. So, fewer people will buy houses so that they can rent them out then, won’t they?

Thus there will be fewer houses/flats available to rent.

It really is that simple: rent controls will make it more difficult to rent somewhere. As they did when we did have rent controls. Your humble correspondent is just old enough to have come of age when we still had them. And back then it wasn’t a matter of being able to afford a rental or not, it was that there just weren’t any to be had.

For there had been a decades long campaign against private landlords and they had been near driven into extinction. You could buy, if you had the 20% deposit, you could get a council house if you could wait two or three years, and that was just about it.

The American economist Walter Williams has said that:

“Short of aerial bombardment, the best way to destroy a city is through rent control.”

And yes, that is the general view of near all economists.

Good lord, we’ve had enough bad economic decisions over the past few years but bringing back rent control would be amazingly stupid even for the current crop of political pygmies who would rule over us.

Posted: 27th, January 2012 | In: Money Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink