“Scams, lies and even broken laws don’t scare the greedy money-grubbers that are Santa Cruz landlords.”
Overgeneralize much? Sure, some landlords do this and they should be reported and prosecuted. Please report them! But the vast majority of landlords do their best to follow the rules. I’m a landlord and I do my best to keep my property clean, safe and up to code, including the SC rental inspection and ongoing maintenance. (BTW — application fees are the norm across the land — it’s not cheap to vet applicants, and landlords run a very real and devastating risk of renting to someone with a history of trashing the place and/or failure to pay rents.)
As every economist will tell you (it’s science, folks!), the market sets overall prices, not landlords. Yes, a landlord sets their asking price, but there are very predictable outcomes if the asking price is too high or too low (lack of interest, or flood of interest, respectively). In fact, landlords run the risk of losing investment property status (e.g. tax writeoffs for mortgage, taxes, expenses, etc. which are necessary to make the investment pencil out) if they do not charge market rates (http://laporte.com/laporte-blog/tax-services/tax-consequences-of-charging-below-market-rent).
The cause of high housing prices in SC is too many people chasing after too little housing — it has nothing to do with “greedy” landlords. Renters should be pushing for building of more market rate higher density housing, and the infrastructure to support it.
Everyone interested in the housing crisis needs to understand what’s really causing the issue, otherwise you’re likely to make things worse with a misdiagnosis. I highly recommend reading the following two reports from the California LAO on housing prices: