Brace yourselves. Liberals are about to discover that price controls always -- always -- benefit the rich. Even in San Francisco. From SFGate:
Well-to-do people are taking advantage of the city's long-protected practice of limiting rent increases to preserve affordable housing by using their cheap apartments as weekend getaways.
Attorney Andrew Zacks represents landlords who work with the city to push out these cheaters. He says these tenants are cynically playing the system.
"You have this class of very rich, elite people benefiting from rent control," he said. "They have a good deal on a $500 or $800 place on Nob Hill and they use it as a pied-a-terre when they come into the city."
I know. You're shocked, right? What to do? Well, they're trying to enforce the rules -- but that's the trouble with complicated price control schemes: it's an invitation for an unwieldy rule book:
...when the law was enacted a certain percentage of renters said, "OK, you caught me," and moved out. But not all of them. Because it is both expensive and difficult to prove residency, some renters think it is worth a fight.
"The burden of proof is on the landlord," said Zacks. "We almost always hire a private investigator, which costs several thousand dollars."
As an example, Zacks has a case that involves a couple who own a condominium in Hawaii and have enrolled their children in school there, but wanted rent protection for a single-family residence in the Richmond District that they have rented since 1987. The landlord, who felt he had evidence the two were living full-time in Hawaii, wanted to increase the rent by $1,500 a month to $3,600.
Zacks' client won the case, but only after two appeals, $50,000 in legal costs and four years of wrangling.
How about this for a solution? Let the market set the rents. Let the market set prices. Then you won't need to hire lawyers and private investigators.