Beware NY progressives’ push for universal rent control
State and city law limit rent hikes on about a million rent-regulated city units.
It’s a dark horse to become law this year, but it could still happen in, say, a deal to save Gov. Kathy Hochul’s unpopular bid to override suburban zoning laws — because progressives are eager to pass the so-called Good Cause Eviction bill, and so impose universal rent control across the entire state.
And never mind that it would only make affordable housing harder to find.
On Tuesday, The Post’s Steve Cuozzo flagged the deception behind the “eviction” name: The bill’s “a Trojan Horse for imposing rent controls on the city’s 1.4 million market-rate apartments for the first time.”
State and city law limit rent hikes on about a million rent-regulated city units, but GCE would cap rent increases on market-rate apartments at 3% or 1.5% of the consumer price index, whichever is higher.
It would also end the legal conversion of certain vacant, stabilized apartments to market-rate rents, and limit rent hikes to pay for capital improvements made to benefit tenants.
“If this bill comes to pass, a lot of small housing providers will have to sell,” Cynthia Brooks told The Post. Brooks, who owns a two-story four-family brickhouse in Brownsville, says the law would prevent her from charging enough rent to maintain her building.
Already, 2019’s Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act has curtailed landlords’ ability raise rents in order to fund needed maintenance and repairs.
As a result, some 43,000 rent-regulated apartments stand vacant because landlords can’t afford to bring them up to code.
Overall, the value of rent-stabilized apartment buildings has dropped 20% to 65%, depending on the neighborhood, according to Maverick Real Estate Partners.
And if you wonder why Signature bank went under, nearly half its commercial real-estate loans were to owners of such buildings.
Thanks to pandemic-era nonpayments of rent, hundreds of small landlords are now underwater as debt and operating costs (fuel, property taxes and maintenance) exceed the rent-roll income.
Even without GCE, many small property owners will be forced to sell to bigger outfits.
Hochul’s shown no inclination to back GCE, but she may look for something she can trade to pass her entire housing plan, and suburban lawmakers in both parties are dead-set against her zoning-override plans while the left hates her ideas to boost construction in the city.
But universal rent control would put the entire state on a path to the permanent housing crisis that rent control has produced for the city, utterly crushing new residential construction — and deepen Gotham’s housing woes.
If the gov really wants to boost housing, she couldn’t do better than to push for the opposite of the progressive agenda.