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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rent Control and its Effect on the Availability of Rental Units


This paper uses the introduction of municipal rent control legislation in East Palo Alto,California in 2010 to estimate the effects of rent control. I examine housing data from theAmerican Community Survey (years 2000 and 2006) and the American Community Survey‘Place’ Data Profiles (years 2010-2019) to determine how city-level rent control regulationimpacted the local housing market, specifically in terms of the availability of rental units. Myresults suggest that rent control legislation had no statistically significant effect on theavailability of rental units, which I approximate with the proportion of total housing unitsoccupied by renters. However, further investigation indicates this legislation did little to mitigatethe increase of median rental prices in comparison to the rates of Fairfield (control group) orCalifornia. These findings suggest further research is needed to fully understand the efficacy andimpact of rent control legislation in East Palo Alto.

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