Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One Rent-Stabilized Building (Not Mine)

I often tell people, "I'm a libertarian until somebody talks about ending Rent Stabilization." The fear is that landlords, building owners and real estate speculators in New York City are so out-of-control that if they were not penned up by a bunch of restrictions, they would go wilding.

One of these restrictions is that the rent can only go up when the tenant renews his lease, and it can only go up by a certain percentage. What that percentage is gets determined at annual meetings of the Rent Guidelines Board:

Economists have long debated the wisdom of rent stabilization. Tenants and landlords debate it, too—but at a much louder volume. In June, the Rent Guidelines Board’s vote on the size of the next increase incited protests so vigorous that the clamor, for the first time ever, temporarily shut down the process. In an atmosphere close to a Tammany-era riot, the board ushered in a hike of 4.25 percent.

This New York Magazine article gives you a great, in-depth look at how the rules and loopholes play out in a rent-stabilized building in the East Village, on a block that was a drugs-and-crime-hellhole ten years ago but has now been washed over by gentrification. It also explains the phenomenon of how one tenant is paying over $2,000 a month and another only $600 for the same sized apartment. And when you're finished reading it, you'll have some idea of why rent-stabilized tenants hang onto their apartments as if they were riding a mechanical bull, and why I'm paying out of my own pocket to renovate a place I don't even own.

P.S. I just typed "removate" instead of "renovate." I'm taking this as a Freudian slip of the fingers: Either I want to remove myself, or we've had to remove tons of junk we've had for decades to make room for the repair guys.

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