College Park braces for rent control renewal battle

The Washington Post

By Holly Nunn, Wednesday, May 23, 10:54 AM

Kathy Bryant said last week that she would have liked to sit on her back porch and enjoy the sunshine, but as often happens in her Old Town College Park neighborhood, the University of Maryland students who live in one of the neighboring houses were throwing a loud party.

“We just want a nice, quiet neighborhood,” said Bryant, president of the Old Town College Park Civic Association.

College Park officials — seeking, in part, to cut down on the number of student rental properties in the city — passed a rent-control ordinance to cap rents for rental homes in 2005, which is set to expire in September. The ordinance remained unenforced until it was upheld in court in 2010, after a challenge from individual property owners.

The looming deadline is renewing the debate between the city and landlords about how to make College Park a more livable place for both students and residents like Bryant.

The rent stabilization law was “passed for two reasons,” Mayor Andrew Fellows said, “to keep students from being ripped off, and second, to protect our community, to protect housing for families who want to live and raise their children in College Park,” because investors looking to profit off the student population would be less inclined to buy homes. “These objectives argue for having a local regulatory measure.”

Over the next two months, council members plan to debate the law, with a new ordinance expected to be introduced at a June 12 council meeting with a possible vote on July 10, city officials said.

The Prince George’s Property Owners Association, a coalition of landlords in the College Park area, have been the most vocal opponents of the ordinance, because it caps the amount of money they can charge to rent their homes. Continue reading

New York Gets To Keep Its Broken Housing Market

By  May 18, 2012, 8:00 AM

New York City has, without a doubt, the most dysfunctional housing market of any large city in America. A lot of New Yorkers like it that way – and it looks like they will be able to keep their broken system for the foreseeable future.

If you live someplace where normal forces of supply and demand govern housing, you may be surprised to learn that New York tenant advocates were quite pleased when Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently declared that his city is experiencing a housing emergency. This “emergency,” defined in this case as a vacancy rate in rental housing of less than 5 percent, has existed continuously since 1969.

In most other places, such a tight housing market would have long ago been brought into balance by some combination of rent increases and new construction. The two are related. Rent increases would prod some tenants to look for cheaper housing outside the five boroughs, and it would encourage more development of new housing stock by boosting economic returns for landlords.

But under New York’s 1969 Rent Stabilization Law, so long as the city continues to face a housing emergency, it can set maximum permissible rent increases for about 1 million apartments, according to The New York Times.

The Supreme Court recently declined to hear a case that challenged the constitutionality of the rent stabilization law. The court had, somewhat unexpectedly, asked for some additional information before ultimately deciding not to proceed with the case. This led to some brief speculation that the longstanding rent controls might be in danger. Continue reading

Debate Over Rent Control

Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 9:45 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 9:45 AM EDT

Brenda Flanagan, Staff Reporter, MY9TV.COM

MY9TV.COM – The fight over rent-stabilized apartments in New York City has gone all the way to the nation’s highest court.

Tenents who have spent most of their lives in these apartments say they can not afford to move out.
While landlords say they feel victimized.
Brenda Flanagan has more on the fight that seems to have no end.

Thomas Lake likes living with his grandmother in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper West Side. The river view from some apartments in his building takes your breath away.  He tells us, “This is a really nice place. I grew up here. I was born here. So I plan to stay.” Continue reading

DE Senate Passes “Rent Control”

Daily Business News

May 11th, 2012 | Matthew Silver follow-up to a story we posted May 3, 2012, after a very long debate, the Delaware Senate finally passed Senate Bill 205 that limits rent increases in MHCs to changes in the consumer price index (CPI). Higher increases would need to be approved by an advisory board to the governor, and justified by planned capital improvements and operational expense. Opponents say it is a form of rent control which will decrease investment in MHCs, and lead to less affordable housing. Supporters of the measure say the measure will force the owners to justify rate increases. As Delawareonline tells, similar measures have failed to pass over the years, and this one narrowly passed the Senate. It now goes to the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives.

(Image credit: Wikipedia Commons—Delaware state flag)


Source: Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management


Rent Control changes game for landlords

Santa Monica Daily Press


Rent Control changes game for landlords
Rents could rise by $26 a month

by Ashley Archibald

May 12, 2012

CITY HALL — Tenants could see their rents increase by 1.54 percent, or $26 a month, under a new formula approved by the Rent Control Board Thursday that landlords are calling “black magic.”

The new formula effectively lowers the annual increase by basing it on a higher average rent than in the past, which Rent Control officials say better reflects how much renters are paying as well as how much landlord’s are making in profit.

Landlords, however, believe the proposal is retaliation for a lawsuit they won last year that forced the rent increase higher than what Rent Control officials put to the board.

Last year’s increase was 3.2 percent for all those in rent-controlled apartments.

“They’re coming up with a way to take back increases that we are entitled to under the [city] charter,” said Wes Wellman of the Action Apartment Association, which represents landlords in Santa Monica.

The new formula used to calculate the annual general adjustment, the maximum percentage by which landlords can raise rents under law, is based on the median cost of a controlled apartment in Santa Monica, which is $1,395 a month.

That $1,395 is cut into “slices” that represent the costs landlords pay to keep up an apartment. Some of those slices, like property taxes and business license fees, are fixed.

Others, like labor and cash flow, which in most cases is profit for the owner, are percentages of rent.

If they hadn’t made the switch, the calculation would have used a base rent of $829.45 — the average rent when rent control first came into effect in 1979, which was $300, plus the approved annual rent increases across the last 30 years. Continue reading

An Old Texas Tale Retold: the Farmer vs. the Oil Company

NY Times

Mike Stone/Reuters After rejecting offers from oil companies for years, Julia Trigg Crawford and her family decided to lease land rights to their farm in Sumner, Tex.

Mike Stone/Reuters After rejecting offers from oil companies for years, Julia Trigg Crawford and her family decided to lease land rights to their farm in Sumner, Tex.

Published: May 7, 2012


This was nothing new. Her grandfather bought the land, in northeast Texas, about a two-hour drive from Dallas and a quarter mile from the Oklahoma border, in 1948 and started growing wheat, corn and soy. Since then, pipeline companies have tried to lease rights to cross it many times. The Crawfords always managed to persuade them to find a way around their property.

“When you allow a pipeline to cross your land, you give up certain rights to it,” Ms. Crawford said. “You can’t use your land the way you want anymore. We didn’t want to do that.”

But TransCanada did not go away. Their people kept coming back, offering more and more money.

Then on Aug. 26, 2011, Ms. Crawford received a letter from Keystone, TransCanada’s American subsidiary. The letter made a “final offer” of $21,626. Then, it said, “if Keystone is unable to successfully negotiate the voluntary acquisition of the necessary easements, it will have to resort to the exercise of its statutory right of eminent domain.” Continue reading

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Ny Post

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Landlords may lose home


Posted:2:37 AM, May 6, 2012

The lawsuit that almost overturned the city’s rent-control laws only succeeded in upending the lives of the Upper West Side couple who brought the case.

After the Supreme Court refused to hear New York’s highest-profile lawsuit challenging rent control, landlords James and Jeanne Harmon said they may have to sell the five-story town house at the center of the battle — a brownstone their family has called home for three generations.

James HarmonHELAYNE SEIDMAN                                                                             CRY POVERTY: Live-in-landlord James Harmon say she may lose his brownstone because half of his tenants pay $1,000 a month through rent control. 

The case has been costly. The couple had to put off retirement, they cannot provide homes for their grandchildren and they are treated like pariahs by some neighbors on West 76th Street.

“We feel total uncertainty about the future at age 69,” James Harmon, a Vietnam veteran and former federal prosecutor, told The Post. “This was devastating to our family because the house is part of our family. This is the place I grew up, and this is the place my mother died. We should be able to keep this house, but we don’t know if we can continue to do that.”

Harmon argued the city’s 43-year-old rent-regulation laws violated the Fifth Amendment, which protects private property from seizure for public use without “just compensation.” Harmon claimed the rent law denies him that compensation, forcing him to bankroll the lifestyles and second homes of his tenants.

The Harmons occupy an elegant one-bedroom apartment on the building’s parlor floor. They rent six one-bedroom units: three at market value and three at rent-stabilized rates 59 percent below market.

The Harmons moved into the building in 2005, after they took out a $1.5 million mortgage to buy Harmon’s brother’s share of the building they inherited. Continue reading