"The harmful impact of this legislation will be profound for New York City’s economic future. There are many losers including small property owners, contractors as well as tenants. This legislation will keep rent lower for some, but also significantly diminish housing quality and lead to less tax revenue to pay for vital government services. It will worsen the City's housing crisis. The construction of future affordable units will slow, if not end altogether, the housing vacancy rate will worsen and nothing will have been done to make it easier for those who struggle to pay their rent. There was a path to responsible reform that could have protected tenants as well as owners, jobs and revenue, but Albany chose not to take it." – statement from REBNY, the Real Estate Board of New York
I disagree with everything in this statement, so it’s hard to see headline after headline claiming that “the real estate industry” as a whole agrees with these sentiments. And it’s frustrating to also feel like I need to tread carefully when discussing these things. REBNY does not employ me, but Compass is a REBNY brokerage. Which is a good thing! Being REBNY means that we have to follow a code of ethics and not be generally horrible (although some will always find a way to be shady and find loopholes). But my code of ethics is my own, and it’s not going to coincide exactly with any agency. Also, REBNY recently asked Trump to speak, and Trump is neither ethical nor particularly skilled at real estate, so clearly I don’t see eye to eye with them on everything.
So here’s how I’m going to frame this: everyone within the real estate industry is entitled to his or her opinion. And I know that my opinion is biased because I am a tenant in a rent stabilized apartment where a former landlord decided to take advantage of loopholes or a lack of oversight now addressed by this new bill. I also know that many spokespeople from the real estate industry are biased because they have never lived in a rent stabilized apartment and probably have never had to go to housing court or file an overcharge complaint, have never had a landlord’s law firm blatantly lie to them and to the courts and the DHCR, have never seen the lived reality of how many major landlords ACTUALLY behave. So I’m not going to say that anyone is necessarily wrong, just that I do not agree and that I think it’s important to share this disagreement.
I’ll get more into the nitty gritty in my next New York Value, but for now I’m going to break down this statement and why I think it’s inaccurate, although I can understand why some people feel that way.
“The harmful impact of this legislation will be profound for New York City’s economic future. There are many losers including small property owners, contractors as well as tenants.”
OK, some small property owners who purchased buildings in need of lots of repair may suffer. I can agree with that. But I also don’t believe that this statement was generated by real concern for them. These owners decided to buy buildings; they made the investment. And some investments are bad investments. If you believe in unchecked capitalism and no regulation, as people against rent reform seem to, then you believe that people are going to win or lose out and have no one to blame but themselves.
Contractors? People will still hire contractors. Contractors will be ok.
And tenants? Tenants have gained rights here. There may be isolated instances where a landlord doesn’t make necessary repairs because of this reform, but it’s more likely that the landlords weren’t making the repairs anyway. And this protects them SO much more. It’s night and day. I will delve more into this, but again, I don’t believe this came out of concern for tenants. I think it’s a talking point.
“This legislation will keep rent lower for some, but also significantly diminish housing quality and lead to less tax revenue to pay for vital government services.”
Housing quality in rent stabilized buildings already sucks. Landlords already take advantage of these tax breaks while refusing to provide necessary services, because they want tenants to move out so they can increase rents. Now that they can’t increase rents as much, they’ll just refuse to provide services because they don’t care, not because they want to take advantage of vacancy increases.
“It will worsen the City's housing crisis.”
Nope. It protects tenants and limits evictions, meaning it will help the housing crisis. Please provide your source.
“The construction of future affordable units will slow, if not end altogether, the housing vacancy rate will worsen and nothing will have been done to make it easier for those who struggle to pay their rent.”
Hudson Yards developers were allowed to rezone because they promised to build a significant amount of affordable housing. In a decade they have not built a single apartment. Tell me again how there’s been a TON of affordable construction and how this bill will somehow limit it? And those of us who struggle to pay rent can breathe more easily knowing we cannot be forced out of our apartments as easily, that landlords can’t increase rents in predatory ways, and that there is more oversight. I don’t see any truth to this.
“There was a path to responsible reform that could have protected tenants as well as owners, jobs and revenue, but Albany chose not to take it.”
I’ve been watching this closely, and I didn’t see any path to “responsible reform” but forward by my industry. What I saw was a bunch of lobbyists using people like me as pawns to further their agendas and landlords basically whining that if they made slightly less money it would be SO HARD that they’d let their buildings completely fall into disrepair. If I had seen anything coming out of my industry that didn’t make me roll my eyes or want to punch something, I would have been all about it. Again, please provide your source.
I’m sure a lot of people in real estate will hate that I’m writing this, but I think it’s important for the future of our industry to show that we do not always stand united, and that we do care about tenants for real, not just when it suits us from a PR standpoint (not that NYC real estate is good or even decent at PR).
I love my job. I love good landlords. I love responsible development. And I also love tenants. So here we are.