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.”

So do his two aunts, Thomas says. In fact, the Lake family rents three apartments in that building, all rent-stabilized. His grandmom pays just $900 a month.  But the landlord could get $1000 more a month for that.

Bob Kafarski is the landlord. He’s renovating a vacant, two-bedroom apartment that will rent for more than $1800 a month. But he says, tenants in rent-stabilized units identical to Lake’s pay only $720 bucks.

Kafarski tells us, “The rights that you have as an owner are severely limited. You can’t end the lease. You can’t rent it for what you feel the market will bear.  I’ve got tenants who’ve stayed in the building for 20 years, and they’re gonna stay in the building as long as they want.”

He says, even though his name’s on the deed, “It doesn’t fully belong to me, it doesn’t.  I would say, it’s un-American!”

Un-American? Long-time locals sure don’t see it that way! They say people in rent-stabilized apartments helped create the neighborhood. They may not make a lot of money but they’ve invested their spirit, their soul.

NYC’s got about a million rent-stabilized units all established by state law to address “a serious public emergency”  the lack of affordable housing. That was back in 1969 and this March, City Hall renewed rent stabilization for three more years.

But what about fat cats living in rent-stabilized apartments?  Movie stars like Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, singer Carly Simon, and Mick’s ex-Bianca Jagger all got pushed out of low-rent digs.

Jack Freund heads a landlord lobbying group, that calls rent stabilization unconstitutional. But the US Supreme Court recently refused to even consider the latest landlord’s lawsuit challenging rent control.  He says, “I don’t think a rent subsidy program that’s not based on income can everf be fair or make any sense at all!”

Prof. Andrew Scherer claims landlords may loathe rent stabilization but most of themstill make a decent profit. And while 40K households in rent-subsidized units do make more than$150K a year, a quarter million of them earn less than $50K.
In the meantime, Thomas Lake does feel for his landlord, telling us, “It probably isn’t so fair you gotta be honest about things.”

But, fair or not for Lake, it is home. I’m Brenda Flanagan, The 10 O’Clock News.

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