Orange County Rent Controls

In Florida, enacting rent control isn’t easy. Landlords in Florida can’t raise rent during the term of the lease. My tenants sign a lease for a year, and the rent is laid out in the lease. That is the amount they pay for that year. When the lease is up, we can negotiate for another year, but that deal is separate from the year before.

To restrict the new lease, Florida statute 125.0103 is pretty explicit. There are a number of steps that have to be followed.

  1. The city has to declare a housing emergency. Such governing body makes and recites in such measure its findings establishing the existence in fact of a housing emergency so grave as to constitute a serious menace to the general public and that such controls are necessary and proper to eliminate such grave housing emergency.
  2. The city puts rent control on the ballot.
  3. The measure must be approved by a majority of the voters in that city.
  4. The rent control doesn’t apply to seasonal rentals or to “luxury rentals.” A luxury rental is defined as a rental that would have cost more than $250 in 1977. There is nothing in there about adjusting that amount for inflation, but even if a court does so, according to the US inflation calculator, that would today be a rent of $1,222. There are virtually no rentals for that amount.
  5. The rent control is only in effect for one year.
  6. To go for another year, the entire process has to be repeated.

Even so, Orange County decided to go for it back in April. In August, the county moved to include it in the next election. Yesterday, a judge approved the measure to be on the ballot in November. The judge ruled that the landlords who sued could not prove that they would suffer harm merely because the measure is on the ballot because the measure may not pass.

I imagine that it will pass. There are a lot more grifters than there are landlords, especially in blue Orange county. I couldn’t find the wording of the proposed rent control ordnance. I imagine that there will be court cases to decide the amounts, which rentals it will apply to, and more. This case will be an important one to watch, as it will have a HUGE effect on not just the Florida rental market, but the Florida residential real estate market as a whole.

Orlando Rent Control

Rent control will be on the Orange County, Florida ballot in November. You can always count on Democrats to put “get out the leftie vote” items on the ballot. Things like legalizing weed, rent control, free shit.

The bill would restrict rent increases to the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is less. While I don’t own any property in Orange county, this sort of socialist insanity is dangerous. Let me use my own rental as an example:

So I own a home that I rent out for $1850. That would cap any rent increase at $92.50 per month, or $1100 a year. As I posted last month, my property taxes are up 10%, my landscaping costs are up 15%, insurance costs up 21%, and interest (in dollars) on the mortgage is up 18% year over year. No one caps my expenses.

If this were to come to pass, I would have to be creative in making up the shortfall. Say, increase the rent by the maximum amount, then start adding fees like washer and dryer rental, landscaping fees, parking permit fees, etc. The lease would plainly say that they are not part of the rent, but are still required. I don’t know, I would have to see the final law and talk to my lawyer.

This won’t end well for landlords OR tenants. Socialist price controls never do.

Refuse to Do Business

Yesterday, I wrote that small businesses should refuse to do business with people who live in California, because they are exporting their police to enforce California law on other states. Now here comes New York, going after large businesses.

They are investigating whether Tyson foods violated New York anti gouging laws by charging higher prices for meat during the COVID lockdowns. Tyson is refusing to comply with the subpoena, claiming that they cannot be investigated in New York for the price of meat charged by them in Arkansas.

This has a logical outcome. If the state of New York wants to mess around and force companies to sell food at a loss, then companies will simply stop selling there. No matter how large the market, if profits aren’t there, then there is no reason to sell there. It’s like the old SNL skit.

The original skit ended with “People ask us how we can make money, when all we do is make change. The answer to that is simple: volume.” For some reason SNL removed that line from the bit. Maybe because people today wouldn’t get it.

New York doesn’t get it. No matter how many people who live there, if there is no profit, companies won’t do business there. That is the essence of the national split we see today. The cities can’t impose their will upon the rural areas without limit. There will be push back, and there lies the source of our national split.

We as a nation are headed for divorce. The people in the middle of the country will only be pushed so far. The cities will have to play nice, or they will found out just what cold, dark, and hungry are.

Price Controls Coming?

Biden is going after oil company profits, blaming them for the rising fuel prices that have been caused by his policies. Russians, Republicans, oil companies, it is everyone else’s fault that his socialist policies are failing. Isn’t that always the case when communism and socialism fail? They didn’t do it right? Or something?

At any rate, he has demanded that they slash profits and make more fuel. This is impossible, of course. US refineries are already at 96% of capacity, and it would take years to build new refinery capacity, even if the Democrats would grant the permits. In fact, oil companies will likely not build another refinery in the US, ever. Since the west has stopped buying Russian fuel, the refineries that are remaining just can’t keep up.

Instead, the left will continue to blame oil company profits. Look for price controls to come next. Perhaps a Biden EO nationalizing the oil industry. Or a 100% tax on oil company profits, or perhaps they will come up with something else that is even less likely to work, but more likely to screw things up more. Why?

That’s what socialists/communists do.

Smarter Than You

A Massachusetts service station owner says that oil companies are making too much profit from gasoline sales, so is now refusing to sell it any longer. He has decided that it is better for people not to be able to buy gasoline at any price, than to sell it for the market rate, because profits are evil.

This is the typical liberal mentality: “You are too stupid to make the decision as to whether or not gasoline is too expensive, so I will make that decision for you. Go buy an electric car, or something.”

Party of Science

This is why science can’t be trusted. Orange County, Florida’s commission hired a consulting firm to study whether or not putting rent controls in place would be productive. The consulting firm noted that rent controls wouldn’t work, mainly because the supply of rental housing is being overwhelmed by demand. They went on to say that capping rents would further reduce supply. In other words, basic economic theory.

The county government is not happy that the facts didn’t fit their version of reality and are demanding a refund.

“If (commissioners) saw that a consultant who was supposed to do fact-finding on rent stabilization was so biased as to say you’re getting outside attention, then we really should get a refund on this report,” (County Commissioner) Bonilla said. “Unfortunately, it looks like they were not ready to do the job they were hired to do, and they were too biased to provide a report that we deserved.”

Says the commissioner who is pushing for rent control

Venezuela as a Map

The Fed is asking businesses to enact a hiring freeze to help fight inflation. The thought here is to cut off the demand for labor, which will prevent wages from increasing. This will in turn lower the amount of money available to chase goods, which will reduce demand and thereby control inflation. In other words, they want to make everyone poorer by keeping you from being able to get a job or run your business.

This is a common scenario for socialism/communism:

  • They enact policies of free stuff, which causes runaway inflation.
  • To combat that inflation, they begin wage and price controls.
  • This causes shortages of goods and labor.

How long will it be before we are eating our pets?

Inflation won’t be controlled by keeping people poor on purpose. It will be controlled by stopping leftist idiots in the government from doing things like mailing out checks so people can have free Internet.

Now It’s Nashville

Now rent control is coming to Nashville. In city after city, we are seeing reports of 20, 30, even 40 percent increases in rents. Market forces are putting pressure on rents nationwide.

Governments have been trying to set maximum or minimum prices since ancient times. The Old Testament prohibited interest on loans, medieval governments fixed the maximum price of bread, and in recent years, governments in the United States have fixed the price of gasoline, the rent on apartments, and the wage of unskilled labor, to name a few. 

Price controls hold within them the promise of protecting groups that are hard-pressed to meet price increases. Like all price controls, rent controls are supposed to protect those who are renting when the demand for apartments exceeds the supply and landlords were preparing to “gouge” their tenants. But what price controls actually do is distort the allocation of resources. See Venezuela for the inevitable conclusion to that plan.

The unrealistic assumptions behind the logic of those who argue for price controls are amazing. The first of those assumptions is that hikes in prices apparently have no impact on consumers’ demand for goods.

Governments may not know much, but they do know how to produce a shortage or surplus. Price ceilings, which prevent prices from exceeding a certain maximum, cause shortages. If you mandate that a product be sold below its value, those holding that product simply refuse to sell. This spawns a black market where the product is sold at its new (even higher) value.

Price floors, which prohibit prices below a certain minimum, cause surpluses. That is, dictating that consumers buy a product for more than it is worth causes consumers to stop buying. The surplus means many can’t find jobs, which forces some to work (under the table) for an amount below that minimum. (See illegal immigrants)

The law of unintended consequences is at work always and everywhere. People outraged about high prices of plywood in areas devastated by hurricanes, for example, may advocate price controls to keep the prices closer to usual levels. An unintended consequence is that suppliers of plywood from outside the region, who would have been willing to drive in to supply plywood quickly at the higher market price, are less willing to do so at the government-controlled price. Thus results a shortage of a good where it is badly needed.

This entire cycle of inflating the currency before installing price controls is another means of increasing government power.

“Inflate the money stock; when prices rise, impose price controls to correct the situation. These controls lead to shortages which ‘require’ government intervention to assure appropriate use of the limited supply and to allocate it and even to control and nationalize the production of energy. The powers of political authorities are increased; the open society is suppressed.”

Armen Alchian, 1976

This entire exercise is a means of grabbing more power and control by a government keen on stealing private property.

Private property rights contain three key features: (1) the right to make decisions about the physical conditions and uses of specified goods, (2) the right to sell the rights of ownership to other people, and (3) the right to enjoy the resulting income and to bear the loss of the use decision.

Armen A. Alchian, Universal Economics

Read more here about the government’s motives.