What if we just outlawed renting?

ETA: This is probably a dumb idea. Let’s consign it to the realm of “thought experiments.”

I admit, it’d be a big change.

So I was reading this sociology article about eviction and the poor, and got to thinking about what a drain rent is. Month by month, renting is cheaper than owning, but in the long term, it’s likely to be more expensive. (The same is likely true for taking out loans vs paying cash.) So the poorest people are hit with extra expenses just because they’re poor.

The article discussed how after the 2008 housing crash, many people lost their jobs or ended up with greatly reduced wages, but rents didn’t go down. (Working class people formerly employed building houses were particularly hard hit, of course.) The article didn’t mention that immigration helps keep housing prices up, of course.

After thirty years of house payments, an “owner” will have generally paid off their loan and own their house outright, owing only property taxes. A renter of thirty years, by contrast, owns nothing and can still get evicted. Moving is expensive, difficult, and takes time. Moving frequently often means losing one’s possessions because they are just to heavy/expensive to transport. (Not to mention the psychological stress.)

But I got to thinking, what if we outlawed renting?

Suppose we passed a law that only the person on the title deed (and their family,) is allowed to live in a house/condo? (With perhaps an exception for people who need temporary housing, like folks who are just going to be in town for a month.)

Yes, obviously the first thing that would happen is that all of the rental properties would go off the market. But second, everyone who owns rental properties would have to sell, because they would no longer be able to make money by renting them out. The sudden influx of properties onto the market would force prices down to a level the poor can afford.

Even if people lost their jobs, say, and then couldn’t make their mortgage payments, (assuming we still have mortgages,) they could sell their homes and get some money back.

Then, even if they ended up in a position where they couldn’t afford their house payments anymore, they could at least sell the house and get some of their money back. Eviction would be less likely, and people would have more long-term interest in maintaining and caring for their property. (In my experience, people care more for things they own than for things they are merely renting.)

Long-term, developers might have to scale back the size of the houses they build in order to sell them to poorer people who want to live in them rather than wealthy people who want to rent them out.

What would happen to the inner cities if there were no money in being a slumlord?