The Economic Impact of Rent Freezes and Controls (Lyon, 1914–1926)

Quantifying the Great War
By François Robert

This paper endeavours to contribute to an assessment of the economic costs of the rent freeze enforced in France during the First World War, and of its repeal. Throughout this period, landlords actively campaigned on a local and national level for a repeal of these provisions, which they deemed contrary to property rights. Landlords denounced the distortional effects of this legislation, notably emphasising the income losses that plunged many landlords into very difficult situations. The problem lay in the fact that only landlords were expressing their viewpoint, and their arguments did not contain any quantitative data. Their rhetoric met with no opposition, and their assertions cannot be verified. By looking at the example of rents paid by the tenants of small working-class buildings in Lyon, we have been able to calculate the losses endured by landlords, on the one hand, and to understand the government’s measures to get out of this highly conflictual situation, on the other. A comparison with the accounts of other similar buildings further backs our conclusions.

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