image of luxury apartment in Downtown Los Angeles

Lens and Phillips on the Housing Vacancy Rate in L.A.

Michael Lens and Shane Phillips of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies spoke to Curbed LA about the housing vacancy rate in Los Angeles amid talk of levying a tax on homes that stand empty. Phillips, the center’s housing initiative project manager, noted that Los Angeles “consistently ranks among the places with the lowest vacancy rates.” This creates a landlord’s market, with more competition for available homes and, therefore, higher rents, the article noted. Condo owners may leave property vacant to wait for a higher sales price, but renting out the unit would be a wiser investment, Phillips said. Lens, associate professor of urban planning and public policy, said it is difficult to determine whether owners are deliberately leaving units vacant. He added that focusing on the vacancy rate can distract from proven solutions to the affordable housing crisis, such as building more units and providing subsidies and tenant protections.


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