Argentina offers a textbook study in why rent controls are a bad idea (Ryan Bourne, 1/22/24, CapX)
One of Milei’s first acts in his decree scrapped these damaging regulations for all new contracts. Rents will now be decided in free contract negotiation, meaning no more central bank indices capping rent increases. He’s also scrapped the three-year minimum contract length while making it legal for rents to be paid in foreign currency (i.e. dollars), providing landlords a hedge against inflation.
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.
Economists have frequently cautioned against traditional rent controls that apply caps on rents within and between tenancies. But in recent years there’s been a new drumbeat for providing more security for tenants by controlling rents within longer, secure tenancies. Argentina’s experience provides a textbook warning of how this policy can backfire, and more grist to Milei’s educational mill.