Ryan Bourne has a good rundown on rent controls in Argentina. In 2020 Argentina introduced a relatively mild form of rent control; rent increases during tenancy were capped at a weighted average of inflation and wage growth, tenancy was a minimum of 3 years and it became very difficult to end a tenancy. In ordinary
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Ryan Bourne has a good rundown on rent controls in Argentina. In 2020 Argentina introduced a relatively mild form of rent control; rent increases during tenancy were capped at a weighted average of inflation and wage growth, tenancy was a minimum of 3 years and it became very difficult to end a tenancy. In ordinary times, this might have had only mild negative effects but in a high inflation rate scenario everything was accelerated (and the controls got worse over time, most notably in 2023 rent increases were capped at the minimum of inflation and wage growth).
….The results of all this were predictable. Around the policy’s introduction, it’s estimated that 45% of landlords stopped renting to instead sell their properties, not least because most home sales were made in dollars [it was illegal to rent in dollars, AT]. A lot of landlords shifted to short-term rentals on AirBnB too. In 2019, Buenos Aires had 10,000 properties listed on AirBnB; now it’s over 29,500. There have thus been no end of stories about a rental housing crisis, with tenants unable to find rental accommodation, despite the Financial Times reporting late last year that energy use implies ‘one in seven homes’ in Buenos Aires, the capital, laid empty.
This supply crunch led to soaring rents. Bloomberg reported that rents jumped sharply after tenancy rent controls were announced, as landlords opted out of the market or front-loaded rent increases to protect against inflation. Having been falling in real terms through 2018 and 2019, and tracking inflation for most of the previous decade, rents in Buenos Aires grew at 1.7 times the pace of inflation in 2020, broadly tracked inflation in 2021 and 2022, and then accelerated much faster than inflation again in 2023 as the rate which rents could be increased within tenancies was tightened further to the lower of wage growth or inflation.
As a result, the average rent for a two bedroom apartment in Buenos Aires has surged from 18,000 pesos per month at the end of 2019 to 334,000 pesos today, far above the 210,000 pesos if prices had merely tracked broader inflation, as used to happen. This relative price hike obviously hurts the poor most, because they cannot easily afford deposits to buy homes, or more expensive shorter-term dollar rentals.
Controls on rents within tenancies also soured landlord-tenant relations, incentivising landlords to forgo expensive maintenance (thus allowing the value of the property to fall towards its regulated price or to encourage tenants to leave). Misallocation of properties was rife. Reports in Buenos Aires described friends having to share apartments further out of the city centre, meaning cramped conditions and longer commutes. Under such controls, people enjoying sub-market rents are incentivized to stay in properties ill-suited for them, while others must leave properties they can afford prematurely when rents adjust sharply before their wages rise.
Milei’s Decree 70/2023, translated as ‘Foundations for the Reconstruction of the Argentine Economy,’ eliminated rent controls, including allowing contracting in dollars. Even though it has been only a matter of months, early signs are very positive:
Already the reduced risks to landlords is leading a rebound in the rental supply. Broker Soledad Balayan has shown a 50% rise in notices for traditional rentals since the decree. A host of other sources, including the Argentine Real Estate Chamber, have confirmed large supply jumps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reports show new rental prices falling, by between 20 and 30% so far.
Current Affairs, Economics