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We Get Letters: Against Rent Control

Published on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | 6:40 am

I read with a chuckle as Ryan Bell outlined that ‘good landlords’ support rent control measures in Pasadena and surrounding areas. He dismisses concerns of private property being taken without compensation as something that puzzles him. Mr. Bell then seems to insinuates that an actual provider of housing in Pasadena is a liar.

I’ve worked with Todd Hays where he was the President of the Pasadena-Foothills Association of Realtors and know him to be an honest and conscientious man who supports the city and has personal experience as a landlord of a small duplex in Pasadena. Mr. Hays’ letter detailing the impact of the proposed ballot measure in Pasadena to implement a dozen restrictive laws and create a new department in the City of Pasadena to manage them speaks for itself.

What is truly misleading is Mr. Bell’s claim that landlords in the city support this proposal to implement price controls below the rate of inflation and new, forced oversight from the city. I’ve been a small-time landlord for 22 years with a 4-plex in the city of Los Angeles and a duplex in East LA. Not once in my career as a Realtor or in my communications with another landlord have I heard of support for rent controls or government mediators or limitations on their private property. Mr. Bell claims that “most small landlords (the so-called mom and pop landlords) are not worried about our rent control measure.” And yet, he provides no real evidence other than some landlords signed the paperwork to place the measure on the ballot in the next election. The reason some landlords may not care is because they don’t yet understand the breadth of this proposed set of laws. Good landlords, according to Mr. Bell, must support his proposals because this won’t impact them. And yet that simply isn’t true. This proposal will impact every rental property in Pasadena.

While I am not a resident of Pasadena and have no personal connection to any rental property in the city, I am a real estate agent here, with a degree in economics. The reality is that the systems and rules envisioned by Mr. Bell will make Pasadena a city that punishes landlords that currently accept lower rents for their tenants because they will never be able to increase rents to anywhere near market rate. That may be good for the small percentage of tenants that currently have low rents, but no one else benefits from this.

As a landlord in the City of Los Angeles, where rent controls (actually rent stabilization) have been the law for 44 years, I can assure you that the process for obtaining one-time rent increases to sustain a property are not functional. I e tried and been stymied by the complexity of the process. Mr. Bell’s claims that someone from the state government has the landlord’s backs echo the joke from Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

The fact is that this ballot measure will only protect existing tenants with lower than market rents.

Every economic study ever completed on rent stabilization or price controls concludes that less affordable housing is the end result. Mr. Bell may not want to accept that, but it is the simple truth. If you want to see for yourself how the impact of price controls, bans on evictions and a system of fees and government agency costs will hit Pasadena, you only need to look nearby in Los Angeles and see the results. Tenants are not enjoying a marketplace of affordable housing. Property owners are disincentivized from upkeep and tenants are less mobile as a result.

Mr. Bell has a long history of protecting tenants and I’ve heard him speak. But he doesn’t appear to understand the impacts of what he proposes.

Adam Bray-Ali
Pasadena Realtor

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