Some readers of this blog, and many New York City residents generally, might be flatly bewildered by reasoning recently advanced by an advocate for city landlords regarding increases on rent-stabilized apartments.
Many of our readers know much about that subject matter, with high numbers of them likely knowing someone who lives in a rent-stabilized unit. It might be the case, too, that they themselves are so-called “stabilized tenants,” given that there are reportedly more than one million rent-stabilized dwellings across the city.
Here’s the argument that was made to a Manhattan judge by a legal advocate for the pro-landlord Rent Stabilization Association: The question of whether a unit is affordable or not should not be entertained by city officials considering annual rent increases for stabilized tenants.
Put another way: Tenant affordability should be irrelevant when it comes to setting annual increases.
We submit that such reasoning might seem, well, unreasonable to many people who give it a bit of thought: Mustn’t affordability be a central focus of the city’s Rent Guidelines Board when it evaluates rental rates for stabilized tenants? Wouldn’t it be utterly illogical if it wasn’t?
Not according to the above-cited RSA, which told the judge that the board acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” way when it considered tenant affordability in freezing rates for 2015 and 2016. Landlords argue that there has never been license to consider that factor.
The judge seemed to question that thinking by asking the landlord’s representative if an evaluation of affordability wasn’t implied by legislators’ acknowledgment in enacting rental laws that a “serious emergency” existed regarding city housing stock.
The court will formally respond to the city-versus-landlord dispute on March 28.