In an act of pure legislative idiocy in the face of overwhelming consensus among economists against rent control, the New York State Assembly started the ball rolling to strengthen rent regulation. NY Times:
The Democratic-led Assembly passed a broad package of legislation designed to restrain increases on rent-regulated apartments statewide. The legislation would essentially return to regulation tens of thousands of units that were converted to market rate in recent years.
In addition, the legislation would reduce to 10 percent, from 20 percent, the amount that a landlord can increase the rent after an apartment becomes vacant; limit the owner’s ability to recover a rent-regulated apartment for personal use; and increase fines for landlords who are found to have harassed their tenants as a way of evicting them.
The legislation would also repeal the Urstadt Laws’ provision that in 1971 effectively took away most of New York City’s authority to regulate rents and transferred it to the state. Opponents of the legislation are concerned that the New York City Council, known for its pro-tenant leanings, would enact laws that are unfavorable to landlords.
Expect some amazingly ignorant quotes from legislators while this is debated:
Linda B. Rosenthal, an assemblywoman who represents the Upper West Side, said that unless rent-regulation laws were changed, middle class people were at risk of being driven out of the city.
Actually, rent control drives out the middle class, making housing only affordable to the rich and beneficiaries of subsidies and rent controls. New housing will be nearly impossible for middle class tenants to find. Plus, for those who favor one particular class of people over others, rent control increases class tensions…
“Pretty soon we’re going to end up with a city of the very poor and the very rich,” Ms. Rosenthal said. “Our social fabric will have been torn apart. And that is not what we want in the city of New York.”
Well, she’s right about that, but Rosenthal is co-culprit. Let’s take a collection for her to enroll in a basic Microeconomics course. She can even take it at The New School, for all I care.
There is hope. Democrats have a slim 32-30 majority in the Assembly, so I wouldn’t expect any series regulations to pass without a fight.
As Harvard Economist Ed Glaeser so eloquently puts it, “Rent control is bad, bad, bad.”