Could Rent Control Changes Possibly Benefit Tenants This Time?


The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the $2,000 limit for rent-deregulation, which allows landlords to mark vacant regulated apartments up to market rates, actually has a chance of going up. The current state law has been in effect since 1993, leading to the deregulation of about 100,000 apartments. About 1 million apartments are protected by the current rent control law, which expires in June. “We are prepared to look at a higher number,” said Steven Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a move shocking to many who follow New York City housing markets. And then the less surprising part: “It depends what the rest of the package is.” Of course, the Real Estate Board wants something in return.

According to the Journal, even Governor Cuomo, who is pro-rent control “in some form,” is willing to link the raising of the $2,000 cap with a cut for landlords on property tax, which might itself be capped at 2 percent. State Republicans, standing with the real-estate industry, would need the property tax hold to move forward with any changes to rent control. As the Journal points out, “talks on changes to rent regulations remain fluid and the deregulation limit could still stay the same given that some advocacy groups from both the tenant and landlord worlds resist any change.”

In the New York Post, a column by Nicole Gelinas argues that politicians use the rent control issue as a “scare tactic.” Get rid of the regulations, she writes, and that way evil Democrats “wouldn’t be able to tell the public: Vote for me, or some investment-banking billionaire will come steal your walkup rental in Flushing.”

“In reality, the best thing for the vast majority of tenants would be an accelerated end to all price controls,” Gelinas writes.

Curbed quotes the telling admissions of one landlord, who says that young people would shoulder the load of Gelinas’ “nightmare” scenario, in which the $2,000 mark is raised:

“If the $2,000 limit is increased, I will have to go through my buildings with a fine-tooth comb looking for every illegal subletter and profiteer. I will be unforgiving on rent increases to market rent tenants, and they will be forced to pay an even greater percentage of my expenses. The brunt of these new proposed regulations would be born by the 20-somethings. Please don’t force my hand. My market-rate tenants pay way more than their fair share of my expenses.”

That way at least everyone could miss The Old New York together.

UPDATE: Gov. Guomo says it’s unlikely that the rent regulation laws or property tax cap will make it into the budget this time around. “As a realist, I don’t think it will happen,” he said at a news conference. “It’s complicated, and some people feel it’s too complicated to add into the budget at this time.”