Voluntary, Forced, and Induced Renter Mobility: The Influence of State Policies

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Journal of Housing Economics


Why renters choose to move likely plays a role in whether the outcomes of their mobility will be positive (e.g. labor market efficiency) or negative (e.g. lower student achievement). If we can determine why renters move, lawmakers can design housing policies to foster positive mobility and reduce negative mobility. The purpose of this paper is to build on prior models of renter mobility to develop a conceptual model that can be mapped to the various effects of mobility. Within the model, I identify reasons for (im)mobility that may be receptive to housing policy intervention. As an illustration of the model, I use a difference-in-difference-in-difference (DDD) model and data from the 1981–2014 March supplements of the Current Population Survey (IPUMS-CPS) to show how various landlord-tenant policies impact the frequency of renter mobility. I use the conceptual model to hypothesize the nature of the relationship between public policy and mobility. Results indicate policies regulating late fees and self-help remedies play a role in reducing renter mobility. While all policies tested here do not have a significant effect on renter mobility, the impact of some policies highlights the need for targeted, evidence-driven interventions.