Jun 24, 2011

Rent Regulation and Marriage Equality in NY

It is always about deals in New York. Rent regulation, property tax caps and marriage equality rolled into one. Everybody wants something in NY state.

NY state lawmakers passed an emergency extension of rent regulation as they work out the final details of the plan. The new bill would raise the threshold for removing apartments from rent stabilization to $2,500 a month, up from $2,000. Tenants who make more than $200,000 a year would pay market rent. The current income ceiling is $175,000. (as one upstate Republican Senator is quoted as saying: "What's a tenant? - We don't have any of those up here".

I'm a Manhattanite and I'm a broker, I know what a tenant is. While, I believe in affordable housing for poor and middle class families (there are many programs besides rent regulation) it's interesting to know NY State considers $200,000/ year middle class and poor.

Perhaps in the outer boroughs middle and lower income families actually live in rent regulated apartments, but the coveted Manhattan rent stabilized apartments are in some of Manhattan's most sought-after buildings. Buildings that converted to coops or condos 25 years ago under non-evict plans. Today they are primarily occupied by wealthy, connected Manhattanites that were fortunate enough to get the apartments 25-30 years ago or inherited them including former mayors, congressman, celebrities, real estate brokers and friends of landlords.

My first NY apartment was stabilized but I gave it up when I bought a coop more than 20 years ago. I became a home owner while my income was less than half the income threshold for rent stabilized subsidized apartments. Many of these tenants are holding out for huge payments from a developer or coop/condo board to vacate. Many rent regulated tenants have been offered $Millions for their apartments that they don't even own. They own in The Hamptons and Florida.

State legislators are also preparing for a possible vote to legalize same-sex marriage. A vote may come today it may not. Senate Republicans have been negotiating with Governor Andrew Cuomo on protections for religious groups although religious groups are already protected by law in New York state. The Governor and Assembly has agreed to the additional protections. The senate is afraid of an up and down vote so they're stalling. It's politics as usual.

Hopefully there will be ground breaking legislature by the end of the day.

The Marriage Equality bill if passed will not only be justice for New Yorkers but poetic justice since it will come during Gay pride week in NYC. An annual event celebrating gay pride that takes place in the West Village, the neighborhood of the Stonewall Riots where gay liberation began in 1969.

Stay posted!


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