Roper: Why exactly is the rent too damn high?

By Rob Roper

A headline in VTDigger declares “Vermont wages well behind cost of rent, national study details.”

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

First question: did we really need a study to tell us that? When politicians run on the issue of “affordability,” at the top of the list of unaffordable items is housing. When companies say they have a hard time recruiting workers to come to Vermont, the obstacle usually at the top of the list is a lack of affordable housing for the potential employee.

We know this is a general problem. The study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition generates some specifics in that “Vermont’s full-time workers need to earn $23.68 an hour, or $49,258 annually, to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.” That number is higher in Chittenden/Franklin/Grand Isle Counties to the tune of $31.31 per hour.

But, as Ronald Reagan warned, government is not the solution, government is the problem. Here’s how your elected officials are making things worse:

  • They just passed a bill requiring all rental properties to register with the state, including ongoing fees for doing so. The idea is to add a layer of tighter regulation and inspection to the market for rental housing, so the state can enforce environmental mandates – upgrading weatherization, replacing fossil fuel based heating systems, installing EV chargers, etc. – which will cost landlords more to implement, passing on the costs to renters. (See who voted for this: House, Senate)
  • They just passed a bill requiring construction contractors to register with the state, including ongoing fees to do so. This bill would also make it illegal for your local handyman to do any job (labor and materials) over $2500 without a legal contract, as well as other costly mandates. This will discourage construction contractors from doing business in VT (where we already have a shortage), making the overall maintenance of rental units more expensive and difficult. (See who voted for this: House, Senate)
  • The Global Warming Solutions Act mandates greenhouse gas reduction targets, and housing is a major area of concern. Regulations and mandates coming out of this law regarding construction, zoning, etc. will certainly increase the cost of housing and discourage the building of more housing of any kind. (See who voted for this: House, Senate)
  • Property taxes. Vermont already has among the most expensive property tax burden in the country due to our having one of the most expensive per-pupil education costs in the country. Two initiatives passed this past session have the potential to explode Vermont’s property tax burden significantly more: recalibrating pupil weighting, and expanding government subsidized pre-k programs from birth to 5. Increased property tax costs will, of course, be passed along to renters.

So the next time a politician laments on the campaign trail that the rent is too damn high, take a moment to see if their voting record is part of the solution, or part of the problem.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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7 thoughts on “Roper: Why exactly is the rent too damn high?

  1. The basic numbers they use are a complete lie…

    Why would one person need a two bedroom apartment?

    You’ll find Bernie also notes, by comparing average price apartment with lowest wage. Since “50%”of the apartment are less than the average why wouldn’t’ they rent an apartment for less than average?

    Why wouldn’t people get a roommate?

    This is housing crisis and lies are only used to fund and build subsidized housing and the lies keep getting bigger and bigger, while the use of taxpayer money keeps getting bigger and bigger.

    Make no mistake their is a serious, serious housing crisis in this state……it’s for the average man and woman holding a decent paying job.

    For a state that purports to be for the little man….they bury people in poverty forever.

    This should and could be an easy victory for those whom might be inclined to truth, and the middle class.

  2. Rob they and their buddies are making millions of keeping people poor. It’s a gravy train they don’t want to stop as it fills their pockets. They could care less about the average man and woman. Make know mistake, any time you see an article about “affordable housing” 99% of the time it’s subsidized housing used to enrich the developers and owners with tax payer money…….all the while creating a poverty trap people can’t escape.

    Who moves into a state for subsidized housing? This is a great question to ask….

    For a socialist party to be fighting the haves an have nots ala Alinsky, they are doing a remarkable job of creating mansions and poverty with little in between.

    Guess that goes back to, ” You can tell a tree by it’s fruit.” Timeless wisdom we’d be wise to adoopt.

  3. Just another example of VT Libs shouting from the Mount (or from the sewer)….”VICTIM.”..usually by evil greedy landlords…who I can assume will be Media inferred to be Male, White & Republican……Always remember this from an ex-Vermonter resident:: “David Mamet had a famous saying, essentially: …‘In order for democrats, liberals, progressives et al to continue their illogical belief systems they have to pretend not to know a lot of things’…

    Rents are not high because of GREED and salaries are not high enough to pay for rents, because of Liberal Progressive policies that chase away all kinds of good high paying manufacuring jobs. VT is NOT business, tax and regulatory competitive with other states..

    But back to landlords? It is PROPERTY taxes that keep exploding higher. Landlords must factor property taxes into rent charges. PLUS! rentals units are “COMMERCIAL” property taxes and they are FAR higher than residential rates! THEY PASS IT ON TO THE RENTER!. Then look at the other things that landlords provide in the cost (free stuff) in rent….and EACH of these usually INCREASES….rarely decrease…landlords pay for trash removal, often parking….all plowing of any parking lot….often they give HEAT included (so tenants don;t care how hot they keep it, someone ELSE is paying!)….some pay electric too…and electric rates goes UP every year to satisfy the GREENIES. Property insurance costs goes up yearly. Liability insurance too. MAINTAINANCE goes up and tenants are often VERY hard & destructive on a building. They don’t care – They don’t own it and landlords are ust “greedy white guys” :). Cost of maintainance goes up, cointractors…..paint, roofing, windows, clapboards….steps… Supplies cost more. Accounts cost more…and LAWYERS cost more because Libs have it sey up now that tenants have far more rights than landlords. You cannot evict them if they refuse to pay rent. But the Banks will SUE a landlord and FORECLOSE ON HIM…. if he can’t pay his mortgage? But tenants get a free ride if they refuse to pay.

    SO! Chalk up another business area you do NOT EVER want to be in….in Vermont….a residential landlord. No matter what you do, you will always be the “Devil incarnate”. Vermont runs & exists on “victimhood”….and other peoples money.

  4. Another reason rents are so high is because it can take months and months, with thousands in legal costs to evict someone. And in the meantime, they don’t have to pay rent and they can trash the structure.

    I once considered renting a room or two with sharing the house, but I would have needed $500 a month to cover the added costs and taxes. Not a real incentive for me.

  5. If it’s obvious to you that the bills the legislators pass will reduce the availability of rental housing, create a seller’s market and raise the living cost of renters it’s folly to assume it isn’t obvious to them. It is therefore reasonable to assume that is the real end purpose of the legislation, to increase the numbers of financially stressed desperate people who will surrender control of their lives to government dependency. They can be controlled; their vote can be bought; they easily fall prey to politicians’ promotional lies and promises to lead them to the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

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