King of My Castle? Yeah, Right.

Scot James’ description of the enervating effects of rent control on the supply of housing in San Francisco (New York Times, June 7, 2011) applies equally to New York City and the few other localities that impose burdensome and overly restrictive housing and rent regulations.

Thousands of apartments in New York City are vacant because the liabilities of renting to tenants outweigh the potential economic gains. Just take a look, for example, at the apartments that sit vacant above many commercial strips in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. The commercial rents pay the real estate taxes on the property and the owners are fearful of renting the apartments and having to comply with the requirements of more than two dozen City and State agencies that regulate rental properties.

Many more thousands of apartments sit vacant in purely residential buildings because their owners, having lived through at least one horrific episode in the City’s Housing Courts, are just waiting for that perfect tenant to show up or cannot even figure out what rent they are legally entitled to charge.

Elected officials prod the regulatory agencies to keep tightening the noose around residential property owners’ necks not realizing that their well-intentioned efforts are hurting the constituencies they seek to protect , as evidenced by the today’s public hearing on proposed State housing regulations which pander to the tenant lobby by exacerbating the burdens on owners.

       – Jack Freund

 

 

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
By SCOTT JAMES

SAN FRANCISCO — VISITORS have forever left their hearts in San Francisco. But leaving the rest of your body here isn’t so easy: there’s no place to live.

The City by the Bay is going through one of its worst housing shortages in memory. With typical high demand intensified by a regional boom in tech jobs, apartment open houses are mob scenes of desperate applicants clutching their credit reports. The citywide median rental price for a one-bedroom is $2,764 a month, but jumps to $3,500 in trendy areas.

One reason for the shortage? Me.

I’ve recently joined the ranks of San Francisco landlords who have decided that it’s better to keep an apartment empty than to lease it to tenants. Together, we have left vacant about 10,600 rental units. That’s about five percent of the city’s total — or enough space to house up to 30,000 people in a city that barely tops 800,000. Continue reading