SANTA MONICA — A controversial company that pays tenants of rent-controlled apartments to move out so that landlords can raise rents is in local headlines after it paid students to hold an advertising banner during a recent high school football game. The ad for Lease Buyout Now, a company started in San Francisco in 2011, was canceled by Santa Monica High School amidst the controversy, the Santa Monica Daily Press reports.
Rents have skyrocketed all over California in recent years, but especially in the Los Angeles area, which has the nation’s lowest proportion of homeowners to renters. In Santa Monica, where rent control policies allow tenants to stabilize their rent when they move in, many landlords find themselves unable to take advantage of the new, higher prices. Ironically, the policy creates a disincentive to invest in new housing stock that would lower rents.
Enter Lease Buyout Now, which pays tenants to leave and pockets some of the money–a small price to pay for those landlords eager to raise rents to several times what they were in the 1980s and 1990s, when the area was a sleepy beach community instead of a trendy tech hub and attractive destination for professionals and families.
Parents and members of the local rent control board noticed when high school cheerleaders unfurled a banner reading “Got Rent Control?” at halftime at the team’s home opener last month. The promotion included a game in which contestants would try to throw a football through a hoop to win a scholarship. After public outcry–no small event in a city whose politics are dominated by renters’ advocacy groups–the school district canceled the Lease Buyout Now campaign, which the Daily Press says had not yet brought money into the district’s coffers.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the forthcoming ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak