Letter: Rent control won't solve South Portland housing woes

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South Portland needs to look into increasing its housing supply. However I strongly disagree with the suggestion of rent control. Multiple cities have tried rent control and it has been documented that it has done nothing to increase the supply of housing. With rents forcibly kept artificially low more people will want to move to South Portland and the housing crunch could actually get worse.

Rent control also tends to be very hard on owners of rental units; it puts a cap on what they can rent their properties for, but does nothing to help defray the costs of owning and maintaining the units. South Portland has fairly high purchase prices and property taxes. Because mortgages and property taxes are fixed costs, owners of rent-controlled units are often forced to find other ways to reduce their expenses: less maintenance, less upkeep and services. None of this is good for the renters or the owners.

I understand the frustration of finding affordable housing. I have lived in multiple apartments with long commutes to my work in the South Portland area because the rent was cheaper elsewhere and it fit the budget. When I finally did buy in South Portland, it was a two-unit to help cover the higher purchase price of the location. I agree the city needs to explore ways to reduce the cost of housing; reviewing zoning and property taxes could be ways to do this. But implementing rent control will make the housing problem worse.

Joel Bamford
Cape Elizabeth