Forty years of rent control: Reexamining New Jersey’s moderate local policies after the great recession

Joshua Ambrosius
John Gilderbloom
William Steele
Wesley Meares
W Dennis Keating, Cleveland State University


This study replicates, using 2010 Census data, and extends past work on moderately rent-controlled municipalities in New Jersey, which began policies to stabilize rents while allowing landlords modest returns in the 1970s. Our approach compares controlled and non-controlled communities over 10,000 persons; and regresses rental housing characteristics (rent and quality/quantity) on two measures of rent control: nominal (1/0) and ordinal (an index of policy diversity/strength). Because the decade 2000–2010 was unique due to the housing bubble and recession, we expand previous analyses by introducing two additional dependent variables: changes in property values, which may be affected by restrictions on rents; and foreclosure rates, a problem affecting investors and a proxy for abandonment. We find that these 40-year-old policies do not exert any statistically-significant effects on their communities’ housing markets once other factors are controlled—a finding which has implications for affordable housing and advocacy in New Jersey and beyond.