Rent and the Single Girl

 

 

Posted: March 07, 2013

 

First came Helen Gurley Brown’s “Sex and the Single Girl.”

Then there was Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.”

Now, we have Hannah Horvath on HBO’s “Girls.”

When will someone get around to what single women in New York really obsess about: a nice apartment in a decent neighborhood at an affordable price?

Today, more than 725,000 never-married women between the ages of 20 and 34 call Gotham home. Many have come here because they believe New York is the place to be. Especially for those just starting out, many quickly learn that life in the big city can mean sharing an East Bushwick apartment with three strangers because it’s the only place you can afford.

If New York’s high prices simply reflected the true market value, that would be one thing. After all, people have been finding roommates to split the rent for years. But the truth is that the young and unestablished are paying more than they should for their apartments, because the rental market and rental prices are being distorted by rent-control and rent-stabilization policies.

Rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments are a sweet deal for those who are in on it — mostly older and more established residents. So the wealthy retiree has every reason to cling to his rent-stabilized pad on Central Park South forever. Meanwhile, the young, the new arrivals and often the less-wealthy are out of luck.

Lena Dunham in “Girls”

These people pay in two ways: First, they have fewer apartments to choose from, because rent control and rent stabilization effectively take a million apartments off the market. According to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, that’s nearly half the total rentals.

Second, the price of artificially lower rents in the regulated sector becomes artificially higher rents in the unregulated sector.

It’s not just single New York women, of course. It’s anyone looking for a place to live here. And so we have a familiar tale: laws promoted as helping average folk actually hurting them.

That’s worth keeping in mind as mayoral candidate after mayoral candidate prattles on about “affordable housing.” Almost always their answer is more of the same interference from government that has created this problem in the first place.

So as HBO gets ready for the Season 2 finale of “Girls,” we’re hoping someone might consider a series showing why, for so many women here, finding a decent, affordable apartment is more difficult than finding a faithful, self-supporting boyfriend.

 

Source: New York Post

Tiny Apartment Winner Announced—In a Race to the Bottom?

New York City recently announced a winner in its competition to build “tiny” apartments. The winner will build 55 apartment as small as 250 square feet on City provided land with additional subsidies. Yet, rents for these apartments will be comparable to market rate studio apartments in this pilot program to provide more  “affordable” housing.

Any effort to provide more housing in New York City should be applauded, but this pilot program raises questions. Why stop at 250 square feet? San Francisco last year legalized apartment as small as 220 square feet while Paris permits apartments of less than 100 square feet. Of course, there are plenty of “tiny” apartments in existing rental and co-op buildings, many with less than 100 square feet, so it hardly seems necessary to demonstrate that even the tiniest spaces can be livable and are in demand. New York City could produce more housing faster if it simply picked a number, together with minimum habitability standards, and then let the private sector see if it can fill the niche.

But in New York City, it seems, anything called affordable housing requires a City imprimatur. Take for example the history of SRO housing (essentially rooms with common bathrooms) in New York. Decades ago, the City determined that SRO housing was sub-standard and banned any such new construction, except by a non-profit housing entity. But there is a market for such housing, as reflected by the remaining SRO stock, so why not re-legalize a form of housing that has served a distinct segment of the market. Maybe, after a few more competitions, we will get back to where we were.

                               

                                                    – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association (RSA)

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

 

Additional Sources:

In Winning Design, City Hopes to Address a Cramped Future- The New York Times, 1/22/13

Why Downtown’s Cool to Rent Control

Here’s an interesting piece by the Post’s Steve Cuozzo commenting on an issue raised in a recent Wall Street Journal article regarding rent stabilization coverage in the Financial District.

It seems that old-line tenant advocates, steadily losing their traditional constituency, are looking for new constituencies to support rent stabilization. The advocates are failing to find support in FiDi for the same reason they are losing support in the outer boroughs– in most of the City there is little difference between market rents and regulated rents.

                                            – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)

 

Why downtown’s cool to rent control

By Steve Cuozzo, October 12, 2012

It’s great news to most New Yorkers that the Wall Street area has become one of the city’s best places to live — evidenced by a Financial District population that’s nearly doubled to 57,000 since 1999 and will soon hit 60,000.

Just about every apartment that comes to market is swiftly snatched up. People love the new FiDi — anchored by the country’s healthiest office market, now also throbbing with families, shops and amenities.

It’s so popular that the rental apartment vacancy rate is below 1 percent.

But to “tenant advocate” reactionaries, the picture is bleak.

Now a family-friendly ’hood: Crossing the street near Battery Park.

Why? Well, tenants there won’t fight to have their market-priced apartments rent-stabilized.

Paul Newell, a Democratic district leader who is trying to inflict rent-stabilization on thousands more apartments downtown, whined to The Wall Street Journal last week that a mere 10 residents responded to his campaign.

Stabilization, the ruinous residue of World War II-era “emergency” rent-control law, to this day warps the city’s housing scene by keeping 1 million apartments effectively off the market — sometimes for decades.

A 2010 court ruling left some 5,000 more downtown units potentially subject to stabilization (on technical grounds involving landlord receipt of a tax benefit). But to win stabilized status, tenants must prove an “overcharge” to the state Department of Homes and Community Renewal or sue their landlord.

Newell, a leftist activist who sued the NYPD over “illegal” arrests (including his own) involving Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park takeover, is dismayed that FiDi residents haven’t taken up the rent cause in droves.

To explain it away, he absurdly claims the area is full of short-term residents who just have no interest in trying to reduce rents long term. Community Board 1 member Tom Goodkind echoed him, “Our area has always been quite transient,” and lamented, “We don’t want 15 college kids crashing in an apartment. We want people to hunker down and stay.”

Newell and Goodkind claim that people don’t stay long because it’s a lousy place to live lacking “basic trappings” like grocery stores.

Huh? What neighborhood are these guys talking about?

A 2009 poll by the Downtown Alliance found two-thirds of respondents had lived in the district for five years, and most intended to stay. More recent data from the Alliance show a median FiDi household income of $143,000 and average household income of $188,000. Some bunch of student drifters.

If FiDi were a transients’ camping ground, would Rose Associates spend a half-billion dollars to convert 70 Pine St. into a luxury address with 750 apartments at the highest rents in the area’s history?

Food shortage? The area’s proliferating choices range from huge new 55 Fulton Market to supermarkets to scores of gourmet shops.

Well, then — if it’s laughably false that residents want to bolt as soon as they can, why are they failing to fight for rent stabilization?

For one thing, the gap between market-rate and stabilized rents in the area is so small as to make the time and legal fees to seek stabilization not worth the struggle.

But there might well be a deeper explanation — anathema to activists who’d turn the clock back:

Maybe young, affluent residents dwelling amidst capitalism’s nerve center don’t buy into the culture of housing dependency and subsidy that animates “make our landlord beg” activists.

Very possibly, unlike 1960s rent-strike leaders, they recognize greater value in a building priced by the law of supply and demand.

Just as possibly, they understand that lower rents compromise a landlord’s inclination to provide the best service and maintain properties in the best condition.

And they love Downtown the way it is — striving and growing with no need for help from “advocates” whose day is long over.

Source: New York Post

Upper West Side and Lower East Side Historic Districts Will Increase Costs and Raise Rents in Hundreds of Rental Buildings

East Village–Lower East Side Historic District approved by Landmarks

October 09, 2012 03:30PM

The Landmarks Preservation Commission today approved slightly modified version of the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District, according to a press release issued by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The territory covers 330 buildings across 15 blocks bounded by Avenue A and the Bowery and St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Street.

According to the release, the historic district was expanded to include structures such as the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 59 East 2nd Street and the Magistrate’s Court at 32 Second Avenue, which now operates as the Anthology Film Archives.  As Crain’s reported earlier today, other structures in the district include the firmer Fillmore East concert venue and the German Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The landmarking came as an effort made by preservation groups to preserve the character of the East Village. The decision comes as NYU will expand its campus just west of the district. — Zachary Kussin

 

 

City Council approves UWS historic district

October 04, 2012 

 

The City Council’s Landmarks committee has approved an expansion of the Upper West Side’s historic district. The district will expand to include blocks between Broadway and Riverside Drive, between 79th and 87th streets. It is one of several proposed expansions of the historic districts on the Upper West Side. The City Council, in a full vote, is expected to approve the expansion, okayed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, as well.

Property owners within the district will now have to get changes to their buildings approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the city agency that deals with renovations and changes to landmarked buildings, as well as designates landmarks and historic districts.

 

Source: The Real Deal

Here’s a shocker: New Yorkers Unfazed by High Rents!

Rent too damn high? New Yorkers don’t care

A surprising new survey has revealed that New Yorkers are unfazed by the city’s sky-high rents.

While the rest of the country’s apartment dwellers cite rent is the number one factor in deciding what and where to rent, residents of the Big Apple rank it just seventh in the survey by Rose Associates, the New York-based real estate firm.

Throughout the year, Rose works with research group Kingsley Associates to track the satisfaction of residents living in their buildings and to track a number of performance metrics. Rose then compares the findings to the Kingsley Index, which is based on surveys at over a million apartment units in the U.S.

“While we do this survey to ensure we’re providing the best service possible to our residents, it’s sometimes fun to look at the secondary data that’s gathered,” said J. Brian Peters, chief operating officer of Rose.

“In a city where the average one bedroom apartment rents for north of $3400 a month, it is interesting to learn that rental rate is not the renter’s chief concern.”

Other findings uncovered by the survey:

• New Yorkers are three times more concerned with an apartment’s floorplan than their national counterparts.

• The quality of property management is more than twice as important to New Yorkers as it is to renters outside of New York.

• When asked for the strongest factor when deciding to renew or not renew a lease, 67% of New Yorkers cited location of a building and just 26% cited the cost of renting in a building.

• New York renters especially value apartment features and finishes — these attributes are 10% more important to New Yorkers than their national counterparts.

• New Yorkers don’t like to move; the bother is more of an issue than the rent they pay.

Rose has been conducting its surveys since 2007. So far this year,  8,000 have been given to residents in Rose-managed properties.

For the first time, Rose is also surveying tenants in buildings it manages in Brooklyn and Westchester County, areas where the company is increasing its activities.

 

Source: Real Estate Weekly

RSA President Joe Strasburg responds to the City Comptroller’s recent report on rising rents in Crain’s New York

Letters to the Editor: The truth about rents

City comptroller’s report misleads on housing-cost burden

 

The city comptroller’s recent report on rising rents (“High rents hitting middle-class New Yorkers,” CrainsNewYork.com) slices and dices the statistics to erroneously make it appear that rent burdens in New York City are higher than elsewhere and, unbelievably, to suggest that middle-class renters have greater housing affordability problems than poor renters.

First, New York’s rents have been rising along with rents in the rest of the country to the point where a majority of renters in New York and nationally pay more than 30% of income for rent, making the 30% limit an outdated standard. (Some of your readers may recall that the federal government used to define paying more than 25% as unaffordable.)

Second, a large part of the rise in rents is the direct result of the increase in government levies for real estate taxes and water and sewer charges, yet the comptroller does not suggest restraining those increases as a way to rein in rising rents—perhaps because Comptroller John Liu, as a city councilman, voted for two midyear real estate tax increases. Nor does he suggest that zoning and other restrictive regulations raise the cost of housing.

Third, when gauging affordability, the comptroller’s report fails to consider that many renters willingly pay more than 50% of their income in rent for the privilege of living in core Manhattan or highly desirable outer-borough neighborhoods (or to consider the 1 million college students who are paying rent with little or no income).

There is a clear need to expand the supply and contain the costs of housing in New York City, but exaggerating the scope of the problem while ignoring root causes does not foster the rational discussion we need.

 

— Joseph StrasburgPresident 
    Rent Stabilization Association

 

Source: Crain’s New York