New York is a frightfully expensive city and becoming more so every day.

So, when New York City's Rent Guidelines Board froze rents, many Manhattan tenants probably breathed a sigh of relief. More than a million renters will be affected.

They might not been pleased if they have a good sense of the economics of rent control, which in the long run will make housing in New York more expensive.

Seth Barron has a good piece in City Journal explaining that while rents may be frozen, the land lord's the landlord's expenses for fuel, water, maintenance, etc., are not capped.

If you're tempted to say, that the dirty rotten landlord class had it coming, you aren't aware of the way stringent rent controls distort the rental market, ultimately making the city less livable (and less affordable!) for us members of the renting class.  

The classic article on the real effects of rent control was by William Tucker in 1997. It is as relevant today as then. As William Tucker pointed out, rent control ultimately creates housing shortages. The quality of the housing is also diminished. Both these factors make it difficult to find an affordable apartment you'd actually want to inhabit.

 Writing after the RGB's vote, "an unprecedented gesture" carried out by a board composed entirely of appointees of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has made "containment" of apartment rents a cornerstone of his policies, Barron further explained the market distortion caused by rent control:

Rent control and rent stabilization in New York City have distorted the housing market in perverse ways. In approximately one-quarter of the 1.1 million rent stabilized apartments in the city, tenants don’t actually pay the legally permitted maximum rent, because it exceeds the market rate in the area. In these cases, landlords are permitted to offer a lower “preferential rent” that reflects market prices, though the legal rent is recorded alongside the preferential rent and is notionally increased every year. When fortunes in these neighborhoods change and they become desirable, rents naturally increase. When that happens, landlords are entitled to switch their tenants from the “preferential” to the “regulated” rent. The increases can be sharp. In these cases, regulations intended to protect tenants actually ensure that they will suffer a sudden and dramatic rise in rent.

The reality of this absurd situation is that the entire housing market in New York City is deformed by a system of artificial caps that encourages people not to move, makes it unprofitable for property owners to improve their buildings, and drives up the cost of available inventory in order to subsidize and protect certain citizens.

Ronald Bailey at Reason calls rent control "a slow, but incredibly effective way to dismantle an entire city brick by brick." He remembers what happened to the Bronx after rent control:

Neutron bombs could not have emptied and destroyed the Bronx more effectively than did rent control.

Like so much of the progressive agenda, rent control sounds really great.

Wait and see if it makes the city more affordable.