Much to my surprise, I found a story in a New York newspaper about rent control in Cambridge.

And about how it had some negative effects on housing in the Commonwealth.

From the New York Observer:

In 1994, Massachusetts ended rent regulations on most apartments. Boston and its suburb Cambridge were among the state’s few municipalities that still had wide-scale controls on apartments that kept rents below market.

In Cambridge, two-thirds of apartments in buildings with at least four units were regulated …

… “Five years after Massachusetts voters ended rent regulation in Boston, Brookline and Cambridge,” began a New York Times article from July 2000, “rents have taken sizable jumps, the cities are spiffier and less pockmarked by deteriorating neighborhoods and many poorer people have been forced to move to communities farther from the urban core. [A] leading landlord in Cambridge found that rents for his company’s formerly controlled apartments have doubled.”

Well, the article makes it clear: lack of rent control hurts people.

Well, I disagree.

There are many problems with the reporter’s analysis.

First, it appears to ignore the effects of a healthy economy on rents. Yes, rents went up, but wouldn’t they have, anyway? I mean, think about how prices of all housing has gone up over the past decade.

Plus, as the article mentions, many of the units that were previously regulated were in poor shape. Once rent control was outlawed, lndlords were attracted to the idea of making money (imagine that …) so they renovated their properties. Yes, they cost more. But the apartment quality was a lot better!

Finally, even if you think rent control was a good idea, how many times have you heard about some rich person (or middle-class) who has a rent-controlled apartment? (Most recently, Nora Ephron, the mega-successful writer/director was kicked out of her rent-stabilized New York City pied-a-terre because they were able to finally prove she made too much money …)

(Yes, I realize criticizing that a few people took advantage of the situation doesn’t mean the goals were not laudable, but I’m willing to rule out having it at all, even though it was abused by a few. (Well, not a few, I don’t think …))

Let me tell you one thing I know for sure.

Rent control is one of the worst ideas to hit America. Ever.

Creating affordable housing is an admirable goal.

How you go about it, is open to discussion.

We are all very fortunate that citizens of the Commonwealth voted the right way, back in the 1990’s.

But we should all keep an eye out for attempts to undo the good the rest of us have done.

Rent control is bad.

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Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
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