Home Not Alone: New York’s War on Landlords

Kazman Chapter in the Property Rights Reader

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The key to rent control’s political appeal lies as much in its restrictions on eviction as in its capping of rents.  Artificially low rents mean little to tenants unless they can keep their apartments.  Without that ability, they would be forced to compete with countless other potential tenants for below-market rentals, losing much of what they had gained politically. 

For this reason, rent control schemes almost invariably restrict evictions.  However, there is usually an exception for “owner-occupancy” evictions, where the landlord seeks to personally occupy the premises.  In a way, these owner-occupancy provisions are a strange bit of nostalgia.  Having eviscerated property rights, the state now turns around and tips its hat to their memory—it may not allow a building owner to do very much with his property, but at least it will let him live in it.