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Friday, January 29, 2010

Ooh, My Head Hurts!

Driving home from teaching my class today, I heard an ad on CBS News Radio from the Rent Stabilization Association. The purported speaker in the ad was a "small" landlord, who, with her husband, owned a 16-unit building in New York City. She noted how hard she and her husband worked to maintain their building, how they employed many local contractors, and how people like her were vital to the NYC economy. Then she mentioned a bill intended to freeze rents for... I can't quite remember... the unemployed? The underemployed? But something like that. So, I thought, coming up will be a pitch for how this rent freeze would punish small landlords like her.

But no! The next thing she said was (I quote from memory, probably nothing close to verbatim, but I think with the gist correct), "And this bill is vital to the well-being of both me and my tenants."

OK, I thought, this must be a ruse of some sort, put forward by some tenants' advocacy group, because clearly, any landlord who wanted to "freeze rents" could simply, all on her own... not raise the rent!

However, after arriving home and looking up the RSA on line, this group actually does appear to be some sort of landlord advocacy organization. So, now I'm totally befuddled. (I admit that my research into what's going on here has been relatively minimal, but still...) OK, is there a group of landlords significant enough to buy time on a major New York radio station who are worried that their insatiable desire to self-destructively raise rents can only be checked by a city ordinance preventing them from doing so? Have I fallen down the rabbit hole into Justin Raimondo's "Bizzaro Universe"? What the heck is this about?

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:01 AM

    The Blackadder Says:

    The group looks legit, but I couldn't find anything about it favoring a rent freeze. It appears to take exactly the sort of positions you would expect of a landlord's association:

    http://www.rsanyc.com/articles/antiownerlegislation.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's weird. I was trying to think of scenarios where one group of landlords wants to foist a regulation on everybody, because it would hurt their competitors more, but I don't see how that works. You'd want the government passing a law requiring your competitors to *raise* prices, right?

    Is it possible this is jujitsu, and because of the economy, high unemployment, etc., rents are actually falling? And so they are really making a plea for a price floor, but acting like it's a ceiling?

    ReplyDelete
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  4. Economista5:15 AM

    Bob, I don't know if you are right or not, but off the top of my head I would like to say that your analysis is really brilliant! A genuine freeze would prevent a lowering of prices wouldn't it? I guess that would be the crucial or one of the crucial pieces of information to get. In the policy advocated by this group, would landlords be able to lower their rents? But once again, kudos to you Bob! (I don't think I've ever used the word kudos before in my life...)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, I bet it's a floor they're looking for.

    ReplyDelete