April 2012 Bulletin board

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    22April 2012 www.TheRealDeal.com

    TheBulleTinBoard

    Rent regulation in the spotlightCompiled by Russell Steinberg

    We the peopleThe fate ofrent regulation in NYC could be hanging

    in the balance. Upper

    West Side landlords

    James and Jeanne Har-

    mon filed a lawsuit

    arguing that the U.S.

    Supreme Court should

    strike it down as un-

    constitutional. The

    court could decide as

    early as April 16 whether

    it will hear the case.

    Nationwide impact?The high courthasnt considered the

    constitutionality of rent-stabili-zation laws since the Pennsylvania

    Coal Co. v. Mahon case of 1922. If it

    hears the Harmon case and rules

    in the landlords favor, the deci-

    sion could ev entually lead to the

    elimination of rent regula-

    tion. (Commercial Ob-

    server)

    Harmon historySome 2.5 million people in NYC live inrent-regulated housing. A rent-stabi-

    lized tenant who lives in theHarmons

    brownstone at 32 West 76th Street pays

    only$951.22 a month for her apart-

    ment, while the market-rate unit next

    door rents for$2,650, according to

    court documents.

    A housing emergency Rent regulation began with the

    Emergency Rent Laws of 1920, when

    NYC Mayor John Hylan traveled to

    Albany, urging the

    adopt ion of rent

    b i l l s to address

    a severe hous ing

    shortage. Then in

    1943 , rents were

    frozen across NYC.

    Rent regulation has existed

    in some form ever since.

    (NYC Rent Guidelin es Board)

    Gradual increaseIn 1969, NYC mayor John Lindsay enacted the Rent

    Stabilization Law, which created the Rent Guidelines

    Board and charged it with establishi ng guideli nes for

    rent increases. In 2011, the board authorized a3.75

    percent increase for one-year lease renewals,

    and a7.25 percent increase for two-year leases.

    (NYC Rent Guidelin es Board)

    Leaving the programIn 2010, around 17,000 city apartments

    left rent stabilization. One reason

    is income deregulation, which let

    apartments become destabilized when

    the rent rises above $2,500 per month,

    or household income rises above $200,000

    annually. Also in 2010, about 12,000

    units became rent stabilized, mainly

    because landlordshoped to receive tax

    benefits.

    Dollars and centsAccording to the Harmonspetition, NYC landlords

    lose an estimated $2.6

    billion annually due to

    rent regulation, which

    costs the city around

    $283 million in lost

    property taxes.

    John Lindsay32 West 76th Street

    Supreme Court building

    John Hylan

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