Friday, June 9, 2006

Rental housing ban?

The city of Greenwood is considering legislation to "ban the rental of any newly built home for a period of three years", accoring to the Indianapolis Star. Charline Giroud, a homeowner who supports the ban asked, "don't we have rights, like the business people in this community?"

Yes, Mrs. Giroud, you do have rights when it comes to your own property. You do not have the right to restrict what others can do with their property, unless the use of that property harms you in a material way. The fact that people who either cannot (or choose not to) own a home are allowed to live in your neighborhood does not harm you.

Giroud made a statement that renters are "not your neighbors. They come and go. You don't know them." While I have not made as much of an effort to get to know the people in my current neighborhood as I could have and probably should have, I have at least become acquainted with them, mostly through our dogs. On a couple occasions, I have helped a neighbor get his dog back when the animal broke its leash or managed to get away from the owner. It may take a little more effort to get to know your neighbors in a rental neighborhood, it is more than possible.

I see two issues here. The first, and most obvious, is private property rights. People should have the right to do what they wish with their property, within reason. So long as others are not being harmed, government should stay out of the matter. The second issue is snobbishness. People do not want to live near people who rent rather than own. People have the right to be snobs, but they do not have the right to have that snobbishness enshrined in the law.