Marsten: Every New Yorker dreams of living in a rent stabilized apartment. But the price is going up. The New York City Rent Guidelines Board met last night to propose the second increase in four years.
Rhodes: I spoke with Sarah Stefanski of the Independent Budget Office to get a feel for why the city believes the increases are justified.
Landlords have costs to operate buildings. And if rents don’t cover those costs, then buildings can deteriorate and might not be as well maintained. Landlords were asking for higher rent increases than .75 percent. They were citing property taxes, utility costs, which is water, gas, insurance costs, repair costs.
Rhodes 1: So, what’s the benefit to have a rent-stabilized apartment that doesn’t pay you enough to even maintain it?
There are some landlords that buy rent-stabilized apartments with the intention of, at some point these apartments will deregulate and be taken out of rent-stabilization, and then they can charge market rates. There in it for the long game.
Rhodes 2: That’s really interesting. So, you say that some landlords start with a rent-stabilized apartment and then they move to a market-rent apartment. How does that happen?
A unit remains rent-stabilized until it meets a certain rent threshold and is then vacated by the current tenant. Then a landlord can petition to the state to deregulate the apartment.
Rhodes 3: How does how New York City offer rent-stabilized apartments differ from other major U.S. cities?
So, having rent-stabilization or rent control is not common to most U.S. cities. We do see it in, particularly California cities. San Francisco has a rent control program, but nationwide, it’s not very common.
Rhodes 4: So, if other major U.S. cities aren’t relying on rent stabilization to keep housing affordable, why is New York City still using it?
That’s a very political answer, so here’s my radio answer. It does provide a level of housing that keeps rent increases from massively shifting. Although rent stabilization is specifically not affordable housing, these apartments are an avenue for people to afford housing in New York City, because they tend to rent below market rates.
Rhodes 5: Gotcha. Ok, terrific. So, my last question is what can either landlords or renters who want to speak out about this issue do?
The final vote is happening on June 26, and I encourage people to go to the Rent Guidelines Board website and look for public meetings, several of which are open for public testimony.
Rhodes 6: We’ve been talking to Sarah Stefanski from the New York City Independent Budget Office. Sarah, thank you for joining us this morning.
Thank you for having me.