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New York Post

 

The Rent Is Too Damn Regulated

March 26, 2011

By Nicole Gelinas

New York has controlled the rents on “private” apartments since after World War I. The city determines annual rent increases for half of its roughly 2 million rentals. Another nearly 800,000 apartments are “free market,” in buildings too small for regulation or built after the 1970s. The state rules that govern these “tenant protections” expire in two months.

So why does nobody care?

The clue as to why the public is not up in arms right now won’t be found at either extreme of the city’s wildly diverse rental market.

Sure, we’ve all heard about 98-year-old great-grandma who would lose the $400 apartment she’s lived in for eight decades — and about the guy who rents a place in the Time Warner Center for $50,000 a month.

But the truth — which New Yorkers have gradually absorbed despite politicians’ best efforts — is in the boring middle.

If you look at how much government-protected tenants pay, they’re not getting a break. Sixty-two percent of “rent-stabilized” households paid between $800 and $1,750 monthly in 2008. But 56.8% of vacant non-regulated apartments rented in the same range.

Man bites dog: What the pols and the market have done worked.

Former Gov. George Pataki allowed vacant apartments to escape regulation above $2,000, so between 1994 and 2009, nearly 100,000 units have become unregulated — spurring landlords to invest and compete for tenants. Government bureaucrats have been reasonable about allowing landlords to raise the rent on “stabilized” units, and landlords have maintained them better.

New York has what the pols have long said was their goal: a healthy market.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his allies want to keep the antiquated regulation system, but the lesson of the past decade is that it’s no longer needed. If the rules expired (with some exceptions for the elderly and poor), chances are things would remain much as they are today.

New Yorkers have gotten tired of people who’ve gotten cheap apartments because of connections or luck — 6.7% of rent-stabilized apartment dwellers have a household income of $125,000 or more; 23.6% make more than $70,000 a year.

In “mixed income” buildings, one person can pay $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom while the person down the hall pays $1,200, not because of appreciable differences in income but because of chance. If the market was allowed to do its job, that $1,200 may go up — but that $3,000 would also likely go down.

There are just not enough rich people to turn Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx and even a good deal of Manhattan into Aspen, Jackson Hole or Central Park South. Middle-class renters have already gained power in the past decade. The pols shouldn’t give it back to the landlords — many of whom liked having captive tenants too scared to move.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/the_rent_is_too_damn_regulated_zHjbc6WqJpUo5IkukGhJBP

 

 
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