Absentee Landlords, Rent Control, and Healthy Gentrification: A Policy Proposal to De-Concentrate the Poor in Urban America

74 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2007 Last revised: 6 Sep 2014

Jorge Elorza

Roger Williams University School of Law

Abstract

Empirical data overwhelmingly suggests that the presence of middle- and working-class homeowners is beneficial for inner-city communities. Yet, absentee landlords have a systematic financial advantage over resident landlords when it comes to purchasing homes in blighted neighborhoods. This advantage has disastrous effects for inner cities, as the communities with the greatest need for the stabilizing presence of middle- and working-class homeowners are the ones least likely to attract them. The lack of in-moving homeowners and the resulting increase in poverty cause declining neighborhoods to fall deeper into downward spirals.

In this Article, I propose a rent control plan designed to attract middle- and working- class homeowners to blighted neighborhoods, and I argue that many positive outcomes will result. By designing this plan, I hope to challenge the conventional wisdom that rent control has only one legitimate purpose, reducing tenants' rents, and call attention to the externalities caused by the absentee landlord industry. Second, I provide a legal and economic model for inner cities to deconcentrate poverty and to better integrate the poor into mainstream society. Third, I develop a model for healthy gentrification whereby vicious cycles of poverty are transformed into virtuous cycles of stability.

Keywords: Housing Law, Urban Policy, Landlord & Tenant, Property

Suggested Citation

Elorza, Jorge, Absentee Landlords, Rent Control, and Healthy Gentrification: A Policy Proposal to De-Concentrate the Poor in Urban America. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 17, p. 1, 2007; Roger Williams Univ. Legal Studies Paper No. 48. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1016819

Jorge Elorza (Contact Author)

Roger Williams University School of Law ( email )

10 Metacom Avenue
Bristol, RI 02809
United States
401-254-4615 (Phone)

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