Recently, Fox News ran a poorly written hit piece entitled “Report: Government Regulations Add $84,671 To New Home Prices,” spreading their typical variety of fear and disinformation.
We’ll accept that number at face value, because the way they calculated their figures you could arrive at just about any number you like. The general premise of the article was summed up by the title, with a strong implication that regulations are bad, lower costs and less government intervention is good.
The article goes on to make obvious non-news statements such as “Regulations come in many forms and can be imposed by different levels of government.” Gee, thanks for pointing that out. While the costs of new home and apartment construction are certainly impacted by regulations and by permit costs, that’s not a bad thing, per se.
America is a nation of people who believe that homes and apartments should be safe, and that consumers should be protected from unscrupulous developers. However, In Edgewater, NJ, tragedy was narrowly avoided recently. One unqualified maintenance worker fixing a pipe with a blowtorch led to the blistering inferno that destroyed the former apartment complex and left hundreds of people with nothing at all.
And yet, in a nation that widely shares that belief in safe housing, we are still building massive apartment complexes with flammable construction and apparently insufficient fire stops which could prevent exactly this sort of disaster. Arguably, had more stringent restrictions been in place when construction was originally permitted, the outcome might have been quite different.
Right after stating that regulations lead to higher costs, Fox sees fit to include a chart of the median existing home sale prices in the US. The graphic covers a mere 18 months, while the country, and home prices, still work on recovery. Directly following the graphic, they go on a tirade about federal regulations impacting home prices. Be that as it may, allow us to ask you two questions.
Does your apartment have a smoke detector?
Does your bedroom have a window or other alternate route of escape?
The answer to both of those questions should be yes. Why do you think those two vital safety features are present in your apartment? The answer, of course, is “government regulation.” In cities across the country, we continue to see the risks involved in apartments that are illegally constructed and not up to code. Even in 2016, these tragedies still happen.
When a landlord in NYC can put lives at risk by not maintaining the natural gas service, we are not regulating the proper concerns. Perhaps there is too much regulation of the wrong things, and perhaps those regulations drive up the cost of housing in America. The solution is not fewer regulations surrounding housing construction. The solution is the right regulations.
Home safety absolutely requires government intervention, because developers have proven time and time again that they will cut any available corner to save money. The average resident of an apartment is not a contractor or an architect, and therefore is in no way qualified to determine the safety of that home.
They and you depend on those regulations to ensure that they remain alive. To put it bluntly, there is a statistical likelihood that Ali Meyer of the Washington Free Beacon, the original author of the Fox piece, would not have lived long enough to write the article had those regulations not been in place.
Can regulations be intrusive, convoluted, and detrimental to profit and the economy? You bet they can! But regulations and standards are what assure you that your child’s bedroom, toys, bedding, and other possessions are safe. Regulations prohibiting the import of childrens’ toys with lead paint on them are burdensome to the people who would import those toys, make their profit, and then disappear.
Those intrusive regulations are what keeps your food safe. They ensure that your child’s car seat meets certain standards. Regulations are what ensure that your renters insurance offers reasonable coverage that protects you in the way you expect it to, as a matter of fact. Is there a state that has gone overboard with regulating insurance? There are probably several, depending whom you ask. But no one disputes that some regulation is necessary and good for the protection of consumers.
As insurance professionals who believe in the value of a strong and affordable renters insurance policy, we are happy to see regulations that encourage responsible practices within the industry and which protect consumers. By the same token, developers should welcome reasonable regulation that enables them to adhere to a base level of best practices to ensure the finished product is safe and up to par.
Further, the cost of regulatory compliance is amortized over a period of many years whether you’re purchasing a home with a mortgage or renting an apartment. Neither you nor anyone else in America is paying those costs up front, so they’re far more bearable than the original article implies.
Residents of home and apartments likewise should be thankful those regulations are in place. If there’s a fire at your bedroom door and you don’t have any other escape, you’re going to die. Regulations help to reduce the risk of you dying in that scenario. It’s that simple.
Before attacking the cost of regulations and compliance, consider what your life is worth, or that of your child.
Some regulations make a great deal of sense, like when your lease requires you to have renters insurance. That protects you if something happens to your property, and it protects the people who you might cause harm to by ensuring that you’re able to pay for those damages.
The national average price of renters insurance is just $187.00, according to the III. That works out to as little as fifteen dollars per month. The vast majority of families can budget renters insurance easily at those prices.
Additionally, it's important to note that renters are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing loss than homeowners. Renters occupy roughly one third of total housing stock in the country, and yet they are fully fifty percent more likely to experience theft than homeowners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
It only costs a few dollars a month to protect your family, and this cheap renters insurance is a great way to mitigate the additional risks that come with being a renter.
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