The Effects of Leverage on Investments in Maintenance: Evidence from Apartments
73 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2021 Last revised: 12 Mar 2021
Date Written: December 30, 2020
This paper studies the sensitivity of investment in apartment building maintenance to building debt levels. I use a novel data set combining housing code violations from 45 US cities with apartment financing information to show that highly leveraged buildings tend to incur more code violations. I then exploit a natural experiment that effectively increased building leverage for some New York City rent stabilized buildings, but not others. Following the shock, violations increased for affected buildings relative to unaffected buildings. This change in violations was concentrated among more highly leveraged buildings. The results are consistent with a theory that debt reduces investment in maintenance.
Keywords: Corporate Finance, Commercial Real Estate, Housing Code Violations
JEL Classification: G3, G31, R30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation