RENT-STABILIZED TENANTS BARRED FROM BUILDING GYM

stonehenge

The great divide between rent-stabilized and market-rate apartment dwellers is playing out in a tiny gym on the Upper West Side.

Rent-stabilized tenants have been barred from the new gym at Stonehenge Village, an apartment building on 97th street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Stonehenge, a management company, put a sign on the door of the new gym, which is reportedly just 15 feet by 20 feet, reminding tenants not to hold the door for their rent-stabilized neighbors.

“It’s segregation,” rent-stabilized tenant Danny Perry told DNAinfo.

The building has 417 units, according to DNAinfo, about 60% of them filled with rent-stabilized tenants. Tenants Association President Jean Dorsey, for instance, pays about $1,000 a month, while some market-rate neighbors pay more than $3,000. The gym is seen by the management company as an amenity that can bring in new market-rate tenants. The building was once part of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program.

A spokeswoman for Stonehenge Village said the company has invested $5 million towards upgrades to the common area used by all tenants.

“The small gym we built and opened this week is different in that it is aimed specifically at new and prospective tenants who expect certain amenities and incentives that are commonly available to market-rate renters,” said spokeswoman Marcia Horowitz, adding that the building needs to attract market-rate residents to survive financially.

“Our goal at Stonehenge Village is to provide a well-managed, high-quality building for all our tenants.”

This issue is vaguely reminiscent of the the “Poor Door” controversy we wrote about last year, and it tends to inspire fierce arguments. Should rent-stabilized residents have access to all of a building’s amenities? And what kind of neighborhood will the UWS become if residents of the same building are treated differently?

We’ve reached out to local politicians to hear their reactions and will update this if we hear back.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal says that she’s heard similar complaints before about gyms and pools in other Upper West Side buildings that have the same policy. She said she thinks offering different amenities to different sets of people in a building “creates an unequal feeling in a building.” Landlords may be balking at offering the amenities for fear of causing themselves problems down the road, she noted. Giving rent-stabilized tenants a new amenity means that any change to that amenity opens up the potential for the tenants to say they’ve gotten a “reduction of services,” which can result in reduced rent.

Correction: An earlier version of this post indicated incorrectly that Dannyy Perry’s rent was about $1,000.

Photo via Stonehenge.

NEWS | 87 comments | permalink
    1. frank dewey says:

      this is true at our apartment building as well. the lincoln tower rent stabilized tenants are not permitted to use the gym in our building 140-142 west end ave. other lincoln tower buildings do allow renters. in fact, we renters are called “subsidized tenants’ by some owners.

      • 205er says:

        At 205, we call the folks who rent “lucky”! (These are folks who were living there before LT went co-op in the late 70s/early 80s.)

    2. G Gomez says:

      If they’d give me one of the rent-stabilized apartments, I’d very happily run outside and work out in my apartment — the way I do now with my market-rate apartment. This is a non-controversy, or should be. The rent-subsidized tenants are getting great apartments in a good neighborhood for way less than their neighbors are paying. And they’re complaining because they don’t also get a free gym? Don’t our politicians have bigger and more pressing problems to address?

    3. Jeff says:

      Seriously, do read the full story. You have people who pay $1,000 for a 2BR with a terrace in a prime UWS location complaining that they don’t also get a gym. Unreal.

      • G Gomez says:

        If any of them would care to trade, I have a small $2450 one-bedroom facing the garbage-strewn courtyard of a homeless shelter. No terrace, not much natural light, no dishwasher, and alas, no gym, but it does come with free rodents. And the mice don’t discriminate between tenants!

    4. Sarah says:

      To be honest, the rent stabilized tenants are playing A LOT less to live in the apartments that we are paying much much more for. The gyms in these newly restored buildings should belong to the tenants that are paying that hefty price – not tenants that are paying close to nothing to live in those buildings.

      • Sarah says:

        This really annoys me. If you want to pay nothing to live in an apartment and get a free gym go live outside the city next to a garbage dumb. the NERVE of the rent stabilized to say that this is a problem. We have much bigger issues in the city than the rent stabilized to be allowed inside a gym that they are not paying for. unbelievable.

    5. PRL says:

      When I buy a Coach Class airline ticket, should I have a right to complain that I’m not allowed in the Airline Club or that I’m not getting served champagne like someone who bought a First Class ticket? No, I shouldn’t. And those folks that are not paying market-rate rents should not be entitled to the amenities for those folks that do. Period.

    6. Drew says:

      Here here. Come on now. Take your saving and go to NYSC 2 blocks down the road.

    7. Evan says:

      I think the First Class/Coach Class airplane ticket analogy is a great one. Its absurd to think that as the gap between Market Rate and Rent Stabilized grows that resentment will not grow as well.

      I’d also argue that the advent of rent stabilized apartments and affordable housing mandates, make the market rate for housing significantly higher due to the much more limited supply of market rate housing.

      I’d also argue the entire debate is a good microcosm of the economic debate going on in the country right now.

    8. Robert says:

      Rent-stabilized residents should have access to all of a building’s amenities. I would say the owner of the building has no case unless the other residents of the building own their apts (and other common areas) as a condo or coop.

      • Ruth Shoenthal says:

        It’s really very simple: Rent stabilized tenants are entitled to the services outlined on their original lease. The landlord will not give new services because once given, they cannot be taken away. If the landlord tries to take back new services, it would be hit with a “dimunition of services” proceeding and would lose. It’s easier and smarter not to start a problem than to try to rectify it later on.

    9. Bill says:

      Well, BOO HOO. Owners of apartments in Lincoln Towers, among others, pay well over a million to purchase, and have maintenance fees well above $2000. Rent stabilized tenants ARE subsidized…by the rest of us. WE pay for the gyms, no one gave them to us. Be grateful that you get to live in a great building and stop whining that you’re not entitled to the same amenities as owners or market rate renters.

      • WhatsUpDuck says:

        Bill,

        If I may: You do realize that the people who are “rent-subsidized,” to use your verbiage, are senior citizens who are on in years? The likelihood that these folks are using the gym is next to nothing.

        (I’m born and raised in LT. FWIW, the area used to be called a NORC for a reason. It wasn’t always a desirable area. Watch the early Law & Orders; every body they found in the Hudson was right off Freedom Place.)

        Most LT gyms require annual fee; anyone can join, so your point is moot.

        Lastly, they are entitled to everything to which you are entitled. Next time you see one of those “rent-subsidized” tenants entering the elevator with her walker, why don’t you replace her face with that of your bubbe?

        It might give you a little rachmonus and rob you a bit of your sense of “entitlement.”

        • G Gomez says:

          And what about the many seniors (taking aside the other people) who are not lucky enough to get one of these apartments, and who barely scrape by paying much, much more for much, much less?

          Actually, I don’t even see anyone here griping about some people getting these great apartments at a bargain rate (even though most of us, including people with low incomes) aren’t so lucky. We’re rolling our eyes that they’re whining about not getting a fancy amenity on top of the gift of their great apartments.

          Who exactly has the sense of entitlement here?

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            sop G. Gomez… I live in a condo building. Let’s say that I bought at a great price years ago… or perhaps at the market bottom. and my neighbor bought at a terrible price right before housing prices fell off the cliff.

            is my neighbor justified in arguing that he or she gets “more amenities” because they are “paying more”?

            • G Gomez says:

              No. You both paid market rate, at different points in time. You didn’t pay drastically different amounts at the same point in time. One doesn’t expect to pay the same price for something in 2014 as you did in 1985. If I’d invested in Apple back in 1985 and sold the stock tomorrow, I’d make a lot more money than if I bought the same amount of stock last week and sold it tomorrow. And I wouldn’t think I had a damn thing to complain about.

              By the way, I note that you concentrate on the building owner, rather than the market-paying tenants — as though giving the rent-stabilized tenants access to the gym wouldn’t negatively affect their market-rate neighbors. That’s not correct. A small building gym is a limited-space amenity. Only so many people can use it at one time. Double the number of people who go to it, and that means that the market rate tenants will have a much harder time using the amenity.

              A gym isn’t a necessity, or something that comes standard with an apartment like a stove or refrigerator. It’s a luxury. I am still mystified by why someone getting a luxury apartment at an incredible price would gripe about… well, anything. I will happily pay $2450 a month for these people to live in my fabulous market-rate apartment, if they’ll pay $1000 to let me live in theirs. Heck, I’ll buy them a gym membership on top of it. I’ll happily do without a gym and a doorman, even if the people paying $4500 per month get those amenities.

      • Native New Yorker says:

        Re: Bill’s comment.
        Actually, the rent-stabilized residents in Lincoln Towers would have to have been living in LT before the co-op conversion which was around 1987. Thus the rent-stabilized residents have been paying for the building upkeep for quite a while. They are also the people who remained in the area when it was “rougher” and made it stable for newcomers like yourself. These residents should be thanked, not sneered at.

    10. Dee says:

      Wow. What a lot of vitriol. Many of those subsidized folk are seniors who would not be able to pay market rate. But really – there is a simple solution…if the subsidized people want to use the gym, instate a membership fee for them…like any other gym. Free for the market rate tenants, paid for the subsidized.

      • Brian says:

        Exactly. What a tone-deaf policy they put in place. Invites criticism. This wouldn’t be a conversation if they had implemented a fee that’s waived for market tenants.

      • Jeff says:

        A fee would obviously be preferable to flat-out banning those with stabilized rents, but it doesn’t look like a realistic solution in this case because the gym is apparently tiny and would be overwhelmed if a large number of residents had access.

    11. Evan says:

      I don’t disagree that many rent-stabilized tenants are seniors, but there are also certainly those who have gotten them through connections, family, etc. and are simply living in taxpayer subsidized housing because they can.

      I think the issue is also conflated with the Affordable Housing mandates from City Hall (see the Poor Door article) which presents many of the same issues but is not 100% the same.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        How are rent stabilized tenants living in “taxpayer” subsidized housing? if indeed there is a subsidy, it comes from the landlord or perhaps the market rate tenants.

        they are living in housing in a REGULATED MARKET. your electric bill is a similar case… or for that matter, your health insurance bill. there are many many other cases of this in the US.

        many of the commenters do not seem to have thought this out very clearly. they seem jealous that their neighbors have better deals.

        another thing to note is that Rent Stabilized tenants are the most stable people in the neighborhood. I live in a building that is about 60% condo and 40% rent stabilized. many of the condo owners are absentee… and they buy and sell, move in an out. the rent stabilized tenants have all been there for decades.

        • Beth says:

          @Bruce – Once again, more selection bias on your part. Maybe in your building there are a lot of absentee landlords, but to make the blanket assumption as you do that all new tenants/owners are by nature transient and not interested in staying in the neighborhood is just wrong.

          Are you aware that for many apartments listed at 1M+, there are multiple bidders who can pay cash? Even well-off people cannot compete for these apartments. It’s a very discouraging situation. There are many people who would like to stay in this neighborhood for 30 to 40 years, but they are being priced-out. Please stop making the assumption that only the rent-stabilized tenants care about community/stability, because it is just false.

          Also, in terms of deregulated tenants being “jealous” of rent-stabilized tenants, you need to understand that these are real generational issues. Many rent-stabilized tenants are older, and the deregulated tenants are younger people and families with young children. As with other things such as Social Security, the fact of the matter is that frequently we are mortgaging our future for someone else’s present.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            Beth:

            Beth said:

            “… to make the blanket assumption as you do that all new tenants/owners are by nature transient and not interested in staying in the neighborhood is just wrong.”

            I didn’t say ALL new tenants / owners are more transient. I said that the MOST stable people in the community, in terms of staying in their apartments, are the rent-stabilized tenants. This is on average. But i don’t think it is even close — on average.

            As for the new owners and market-rate tenants… yes, SOME of them add stability, especially the owners. But many don’t. there ARE a lot of absentee landlords and pied-a-terres (sp?), or even second homes. that is not optimal use of housing.

            Beth said:

            “Many rent-stabilized tenants are older, and the deregulated tenants are younger people and families with young children. As with other things such as Social Security, the fact of the matter is that frequently we are mortgaging our future for someone else’s present.”

            First of all, you are taking a gratuitous swipe at Social Security — which will be there when today’s 30 year olds are retired, and offer excellent support. Look into the facts. I recommend you start by reading Dean Baker and Paul Krugman, and looking at the CBO and SS trustees reports.

            SS is not “mortgaging the future for someone else’s present.” It is simple insurance and functions financially the way insurance functions. How do you thin GEICO pays car insurance claims? they do it out of PREMIUMS. It is pooled risk.

            Second, you are not thinking clearly about rent stabilization. If a senior citizen lives in a rent stabilized apt, how are they taking away from YOU? You think when they move out your rent goes down?

            You are not complaining about YOUR situation, you are saying that THEIR situation is unjustly better. this sounds to me like jealousy.

            it is also distasteful to try to deny seniors the programs that keep their heads above water — whether it is Soc Sec or rent stabilization.

            • Beth says:

              You are putting words in my mouth. I made no assertions about “denying” elderly benefits.

              The fact is that it is projected that the Social Security fund will run out of money at the time I could start collecting. Are we to put in to Social Security our whole lives for nothing at the end? How is that fair? What about a genuine concern for the viability of Social Security through the 21st Century? I know that that is a difficult argument for older people, because you feel you are “due” after contributing for so many years. It would be nice if older people considered that their children and grandchildren might not be able to benefit, as they have.

              You claim to be compassionate, but you really just represent the status quo.

    12. Bruce Bernstein says:

      Condo owners who take out $1 million mortgages are subsidized much more than almost all rent stabilized tenants. It’s called the mortgage interest dedcution. They are subsidized by US taxpayers. The bigger the mortgage (up to the limit — which i think is now 1.1 million), the larger the subsidy.

      on a separate point — so i wonder which other amenities in a building should be denied to rent stabilized tenants? do we really consider that they are living in “coach class”? should they enter through a separate non-doorman door? or not have their packages held? or have to wait for slower service? get the lousier handymen?

      it seems like there is a whole lot of class warfare being waged by some of the commenters above.

    13. Bruce Bernstein says:

      thank you, Avi, for your thoughtful coverage of this important issue.

    14. Dani says:

      What should they be able to get used the gym for free? That’s the problem with entitlement. You are paying below market rate and can’t walk 2 block to a gym that cost $50 a month?

      • Jean says:

        Please tell me where the gym is on the UWS that charges only $50/month – I’d like to join!

        • G Gomez says:

          You can get one even cheaper than that, though you might have to take the subway to get there and it may not have all the fancy stuff you want. E.g., Planet Fitness at Lenox and 126th advertises a price of $10 per month.

    15. Robert Leuze says:

      The claim that rent-stabilized (or rent-controlled) apartments are “subsidized” because the rents are lower than “market rate” is usually false. If tenants have income low enough to qualify for the government’s SCRIE program, then, yes, they are subsidized. Otherwise, they are not: Does someone write a check to cover their rent? Does the landlord lose money on the building because of rent-stabilized apartments in it? Almost always, the answer is NO; the landlord makes a profit. Otherwise, why would he have acquired the building in the first place? Landlords know that rent-stabilized apartments are part of the deal when they buy a building, and they certainly make calculations up-front about whether the purchase will be profitable.

      Rent-stabilization and rent-control are government programs to keep residents in the city of various income levels. The “enemies” or adversaries of those who pay market-rate rents are not those who qualify for rent-stabilization or rent-control; the real enemies are the rich one-percent who bid up the Manhattan market to absurd heights.

      This argument about the building’s gym seems to be an example of divide and conquer tactics, ultimately favoring the rich.

      • G Gomez says:

        So. Giving people a huge discount luxury apartment that most of us couldn’t begin to afford — but not giving them a free gym membership on top of that — is “divide and conquer tactics, ultimately favoring the rich”?

        Wow. Just wow.

        By that argument, isn’t allowing anyone to have a gym membership anywhere “divide and conquer tactics, ultimately favoring the rich”? We have tons of gyms here in NYC, so it’s not a matter of availability. It’s all about money. Many people would like a gym membership but cannot afford one. (Or they have a cheapo membership somewhere when they’d rather be at Equinox.) So the reason some people are at Equinox while others are doing push-ups in their apartment comes down purely to money. Unfair! We all deserve to have memberships at Equinox, even if we don’t pay for them!

        I’m tired of wearing clothes from the Gap. Other people have designer clothes — why not me?

        Why should I have a bronze health care plan when I’d rather have a platinum plan? Other people going to the Obamacare website are getting the platinum plan. I went to the exact same website. Why shouldn’t I get the platinum plan, even though I’m paying the bronze price?

        Why should I be stuck ordering the cheapest thing on the menu instead of the most expensive? Other people are getting the expensive stuff and a $300 bottle of wine, so I should get it too, except at the price I can afford. I’m at the same restaurant!

        Some people in my building have two and three bedroom apartments. I can’t pay the rent on those apartments, but is that any reason why I should be stuck in my one bedroom? I live in this building, too.

        It is one thing to argue that everyone should have a decent place to live, enough to eat, clothes to keep them warm, and adequate healthcare. It is another to argue that everyone should deserve luxuries, whether they’re paying for them or not.

        A gym membership falls firmly in the luxury camp. You can work out for free.

    16. MLM says:

      Segregation Inequality. Discrimination.

      There are probably other words for it.

      And it then sets off one “class” against “another.”

      • Kate says:

        But it’s not “discrimination” when you force one group to pay three times as much than another group?

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          Kate,

          two rent stabilized tenants can pay vastly different amounts for the same apartment. it depends on how many times the apartment has “turned over” within the rent stabilization system.

          rent stabilization effectively kept well over one million apts affordable in NYC. were there unfair aspects to it, and some pricing distortions. Yes. But the “market fundamentalists” (libertarians and their ilk) always argued that rent stabilization / rent control were keeping prices HIGH because they discouraged building.

          now that the rent stabilization system has been crippled, and pretty much only consists of legacy people slowly dying out, we can see the truth. prices have gone way way UP… not come down.

          most of the people who are now “market rate” didn’t see the point in fighting for continuation of strong rent stabilization. you thought you were better served by the “free market.” the free market battered and bruised these people… and they take it out on the dwindling number of rent stabilized tenants.

          • Beth says:

            @Bruce – That is a very selective interpretation of events. One of the reasons why rents were so cheap years ago is because no one wanted to live here!! Now, many people want to live here, and it’s a very simple economic equation. High demand + low supply = high prices

            The assertion that renters actually wanted market rates is a bit absurd. Then, to claim that these same renters are taking out their frustrations on rent stabilized tenants is really far-fetched. The people who wanted the market rates were the building owners and builders.

            • bruce bernstein says:

              Beth says:

              “… to claim that these same [market rate] renters are taking out their frustrations on rent stabilized tenants is really far-fetched.”

              “Far-fethced”? Seriously, Beth? have you READ the comments on this posting?

              Beth said:

              “The people who wanted the market rates were the building owners and builders.”

              Yes, that is true. But the market-rate renters could be supporting a RETURN to more effective rent stabilization — which would benefit them as well. For example, ending the various ways that apartments can be taken out of the system. I don’t see ANY of the market rate tenants doing that in these comments. Instead they are venting on the “entitled” feeling and “subsidies” of the rent stabilized people, and doing a good job of giving the impression that they want to end rent stabilization entirely (which would displace millions of people).

              QED.

    17. Kate says:

      “And what kind of neighborhood will the UWS become if residents of the same building are treated differently?”

      I don’t know. Why not ask the people in rent-stablized apartments who have been here for ages?

      • manhattan mark says:

        Rent stabilization was a concession to landlords who have
        been fighting rent control since the end of WW2. the essence
        of the rent control law was that any landlord who was not
        making a 6% return on their investment could go to the rent
        commission and show it on their books, I don’t think that any
        landlord ever did. If you move in today you are paying the
        going rate, under stabilization the going rate, under rent
        control, the going rate…you are not penalized if you move in!

    18. AL says:

      Rent Stabilization is allowed to be passed to on. Example My mom had a stabilized apt, I lived there the last two years of her life and it passes on to me. . This happens all the time and also is easily manipulated.Now, I cannot pass it on as it can only transfer once. The vast majority of stabilized tenants are not “Senior Citizens” as some are falsely claiming.

      • webot says:

        Thank you Al, for addressing this important issue and telling the truth.

        Unlike som folks on this website who twist the reality that rent controls of all kind are subsidies – paid for by others: landlord, neighbor , city taxpayers.

        It creates a huge sense of entitlement. For example, old time tenants screaming bloody murder of amenities that did not even exist until recently.

    19. denton says:

      What’s the big deal? It’s a new amenity for free market tenants designed to compete with new buildings that are also free market. It’s not like they shut an existing class of tenant out from a previous amenity (which would be an illegal reduction in services). Yawn.

    20. Robin says:

      What bothers me about this policy, is where does it end? Will the doormen in the building only be working for the market-rate tenants? No opening the door or accepting packages for rent-stabilized tenants? A doorman is not a necessity either.

      I like the idea of charging the rent-stabilized tenants to work out in the gym, but not charging the market-rate renters. That seems like a good compromise. Charge folks enough and they’ll go elsewhere to work out.

    21. Sean says:

      The battle for the soul of the UWS has begun. Late stage gentrification is bringing all the comfort of a gated community. Of course, this has struck a nerve. Money talks.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        Sean, i think you hit the nail on the head. I wish WestSide rag had a “like” button.

        the only slight amendment i would make to your comments is that the battle for the sould of the West Side began a while ago.

    22. Giovanni says:

      So when the building eventually converts to condo, and all the people who are “only” paying market rate rent get locked out of the gym and other amenities because they are now considered subsidized freeloaders getting in the way of the multi-millionaires enjoyment of “their” property, I guess all those people who are now market rate renters will be just fine being treated like second class citizens then, right?

    23. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      The chutzpah of these rent stabilized tenants is truly unbelievable. The are screwing everyone else over by reducing the supply of rental housing in NYC and paying far less than everyone else. And now they are whining about not having luxury amenities. The rent stabilization system needs to either be reformed significantly or ended completely.

    24. Chiqui says:

      I grew up in NYC in one of the many “projects” which are now considered “luxury” apts. My friends and I laugh at this because if you really look at it adding some paint & updating a lobby does not make it “luxury.” I know a few residents who live there & it is not so much that they are not allowed to use the gym that is the problem but rather it is the perceived elitist attitude displayed by the management company in informing them of the policy barring them from using the small gym. Again the issue is not that the rent stabilized tenants are barred from use of the gym and whether they have the right as paying even if it is not market rate tenants to access a small building gym but the way such a message was delivered to draw attention to the policy.

    25. PRL says:

      For you people that are crying “class warfare”, I have never heard anything so misguided in my life. It’s simple economics. If you cannot pay for something, you can’t have it. Same goes for me,

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        > If you cannot pay for something, you can’t have it.

        Or in the case of rent stabilization, get laws passed that force the landlord to house you and your heirs at below-market rent for life.

    26. Forrest says:

      Why bother going to this tiny gym at all? In that ‘hood I bet the market-rate payers get all the exercise they need running away from the subsidized payers!

    27. Brice Bernstein says:

      I see some people keep ranting about rent stabilized tenants being “subsidized.”

      i wonder why these same people keep avoiding the issue of WHO received the largest housing subsidies on the UWS (or anywhere in NYC)? it is the rich condo onwers with million dollar mortgages. Why are you not complaining about THEIR outrageous subsidies (the mortgage interest deduction is only the first)?

      I’ll venture an answer. Class bias and class warfare.

      • YoureFired says:

        Rich people subsidize everybody. That’s the fact. Sure, those with mortgages (although the uber-rich pay all cash and have no mortgage) get a deduction …. But their tax bills are still massive. The top 20% of taxpayers pay 80-90% of the tax dollars generated. They also privately pay for the parks, libraries and museums that are free for the “100%” of us.

    28. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      > Tenants Association President Jean Dorsey, for instance, pays about $1,000 a month, while some market-rate neighbors pay more than $3,000.

      I am amazed that some people here not only find this acceptable but vociferously argue for it. If we can’t get rid of RS, it at least needs some serious reforms. One person paying $1000 and another person paying $3000 for similar apartments in the same building is a complete injustice–one that has been instituted through public policy and law.

      If we can’t get rid of RS, at least reform it to have time limits and periodic resets to market rent. And make entry into the program a lottery, similar to the 80/20.

    29. Bruce Bernstein says:

      well, there you have it — “get rid of rent stabilization.” and how many people would this displace? and what would be the social effect?

      can i point out that person B in the scenario above was not FORCED to rent an at for $3,000 a month.

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        How many tenants have already been displaced because they are not allowed to bid higher for these stabilized units? For example, someone who commutes to NYC every day from NJ might want to bid higher than $1000 for the 2-bedroom unit on the UWS mentioned in this article. Why should he not be allowed to do so?

        You are only looking at the immediate beneficiaries of RS; you are ignoring all the people who are harmed by it.

        Repealing RS would result in a fairer system for everyone. The current system benefits a select group of people. This is catnip for politicians, because they get to buy votes without actually having to fund a government program.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          You’re saying that rich people are “hurt” when they can’t DISPLACE middle class and poorer people. The person in NJ is not “displaced.” Rent stabilization is simply STOPPING him or her from displacing others.

          By that elitist logic, public housing HURTS rich people because they can’t come in and buy up the land and construct high end condos. Or, for that matter, publci schools HURT rich people because they can’t buy up the buildings and use them for elite private schools.

          • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

            Perhaps that person from NJ was displaced. For example if he lived in NYC, was priced out of the market, and moved to NJ to find housing that he could afford.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              then he or she was DISPLACED by the landlord who raised his or her EXISTING rent… not buy some other person who lived in a less expensive apartment.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          totally doing away with rent stabilization in NYC would result in a fairer system for capital and those who hold it (rich people, developers, banks, landlors, etc.) It would result in a LESS FAIR system for the millions — the vast majority — who do not hold large amounts of capital, and need affordable housing to continue to live here.

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        I would also point out that most cities do not have rent stabilization. Yet, miraculously, the vast majority of people in such cities find housing that they can afford.

        Rents would be lower across the board if RS were repealed and if the city eased up on the restrictions for building. Landmark status, overly strict zoning, community boards trying to stop everything, lengthy environmental impact studies, etc make it very difficult to create additional units. So of course, the few things that will get built will be only ultra high end.

        Rents come down very quickly once the vacancy rate starts to creep up. The overly high rents in NYC relative to other major cities is the result of bad public policy.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          9d says:

          “Rents would be lower across the board if RS were repealed and if the city eased up on the restrictions for building.”

          this is a lie perpetrated for decades by the developers, landlords, and their libertarian acolytes. It is now easily disproven. Hundreds of thousands of apartment have moved out of the rent stabilization system and rents have not come down — they have skyrocketed!!

          but of course simple facts never get in the way of people who want to argue by putting their hands over their ears and chanting “free market!! free market!!! free market!!”

          • webot says:

            You are the one who screams and does not listen to others.

            We need more housing across the board in this City.

            Read Paul Krugman on rent controls, the reality is the we need to end the controls AND allow new construction to be built quickly and efficiently.
            The truth is not enough units have been decontrolled.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              Please refrain from ad hominem attacks… you know the rules!

            • G Gomez says:

              Bruce, where exactly was the “ad hominem attack” you were complaining about? FYI, disagreeing with you (or anyone) does not constitute an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack (1) appeals to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect (e.g, claiming, without evidence, that seniors are being victimized, or (2) is an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made (e.g., calling someone elitist instead of making a factually supported argument).

          • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

            Non-regulated apartments are still only 39.1% of the overall rental market in NYC. The other apartments are essentially off the market–landlords are prohibited from trying to get the best price for them, and prospective tenants are prohibited from bidding for them.

            Everyone looking for housing must fight for this 39.1% of the market. This has resulted in very low vacancy rates, which of course leads to higher rents. The vacancy rate was below 1% for a while. It has recently crept up to 2.8%, causing rents to decrease slightly.

            It’s basically a supply problem caused by (1) only 39.1% of the apartments being part of the biddable market and (2) near impossibility of building new units. Both of these are caused by the types of public policies that you advocate.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              regarding your question about how to refrom the rent stabilization system… sorry, in this case it would be “none of the above.” i would STRENGTHEN the system. it might not have been the best policy to start but i see nothing wrong with continuing with what we have.

              however, this is NOT the answer to affordable housing in NYC. I would look to some “old” solutions, in particular: building more long-term affordable units like the old labor coops (Penn South, for example… 1199 has done some of this); trying to build more public housing; etc.

              we have to look back and see how affordable housing was constructed in this city. it was done with subsidies; not through “the free market.” (at least in Manhattan in the last 50 years.)

              this is not a true “free market” because the supply is very limited (limited amount of land).

          • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

            Bruce, do you reside in a rent-stabilized apartment?

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              I reside in a condo. In the past i lived in a rent-stabilized apt. what difference does that make?

              certainly you are familiar with the arguments i am making.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              Just wondering, because your arguments in favor of RS were so vociferous that I thought you might have a strong personal stake in the program. I recall reading in the NY Times that in Manhattan the avg stabilized rent is $1100/month less or $13,200 per year. (Probably the equivalent of $20k per year before tax). That’s a good chunk of change. If I had that, I might even be able to save up for a down payment on a condo. 😉

              Would you be open to reforming the rent stabilization system in any way? For example:
              1. Time limit
              2. Don’t allow family to inherit the lease
              3. Reset to market rate periodically
              4. Entry via lottery rather than connection with broker, super, departing tenant, etc
              5. Strong income and asset caps. For example, someone who has a vacation home.

              If you were housing dictator, what type of system would you create? I am trying to understand your ultimate goal.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              thank you for asking.

              your argument above regarding “only 39% are market rate” and thus the “price lowering” effect has not kicked in, are easily refuted. for example, there are neighborhoods where much more than 39% are market rate (the UWS might be one of them), but still rent has skyrocketed. the % of total market rate units has vastly increased, but still rent has skyrocketed. New units brought to market are almost all market rate… and these are almost all very expensive units, unless there are strong incentives (80/20) to make rent AFFORDABLE.

              developers can build in NYC outside the rent stabilization system. it has no “disincentive” to build new units. you would have to get rid of zoning, or allow vastly higher buildings in areas like the UWS — i don’t think anyone who is concerend about the quality of life wants that.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              The supply of new housing has not kept up with population growth. The answer is to build more apartments, not to perpetuate or create new price controls.

              Once there is enough supply and units go unrented for a couple months, landlords will be forced to drop their prices and compete for good tenants.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              We would also need to examine the extent to which landlords have had to pass on property tax increases to the tenants. My previous landlord mentioned that part of the reason for the massive rent increase was that he was having to pay a lot more property tax. These taxes are a hidden component in the rent, which many people are not aware of.

    30. Phyllis A. says:

      There is something that i have not seen mentioned so far. While the actual sq. ft. of the rent stabilized and market rate apts. may be the same, the actual apartments are absolutely not the same. Market rate tenants get totally renovated apartments with marble bathrooms, kitchens with all new appliances, granite countertops, solid wood floors, etc. The stabilized tenants have kitchens and bathrooms with appliances that are forty years old. They are not provided with hard wood floors, but rather the forty year old linoleum floors, the list goes on. Market rate tenants are getting the apts. they are paying for.
      As for all the offers from people who say they would trade their apartments for one of the rent stabilized ones, I doubt they would have said that 30 years ago when they probably wouldn’t have set foot in this neighborhood.

      • G Gomez says:

        You cannot get a market rate 2 bedroom with terrace on the upper west side for $1000 per month — much less including a free gym — even if it does have linoleum floors and old appliances. For double that price, you can get a studio (no terrace, no gym, no doorman) with linoleum floors and old appliances. The people paying market rate for their apartments may indeed be getting what they are paying for. However, the fact remains that the people getting the cheap apartments are getting WAY more — way WAY WAY more — than their money’s worth, even if their apartments haven’t been renovated. You should see my “market rate” apartment, seriously — I’m paying more than twice that for a tiny, dark, unrenovated, doormanless, one-bedroom, and it’s considered a relative bargain in UWS terms.

        It’s silly to argue that the people getting these apartments are getting anything but an incredibly fantastic deal, even sans gym. For pity’s sake — even when I was working as an associate in a fancy-pancy law firm, I could not afford a two-bedroom with a terrace in that neighborhood.

    31. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      Update, the politicians are now getting involved: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140225/upper-west-side/politician-file-complaint-against-building-blocking-tenants-from-gym

      – Public Advocate Letitia James said Tuesday that her office will file a discrimination complaint with the New York State Human Rights Division

      – City Councilman Mark Levine stated that the situation “recalls memories of the pre-Civil Rights era.”

      – State Sen. Bill Perkins called the company’s decision a “form of apartheid.”

      • PRL says:

        I wonder if Gale Brewer and her cronies will protest for me? You know, I want a better view but the people in the penthouse won’t let me in to enjoy theirs! Yes, I know I can’t afford to buy their apartment but I’m going to scream Class Warfare anyway.

      • G Gomez says:

        I’d love to hear from some civil-rights-era race discrimination victims and apartheid victims on how they think their struggles for racial equality compare to these tenants’ whining for a free gym to go with their super cheap 2-bedroom apartments with terraces.

        Cue the politicians comparing the landlords to Nazis and slave owners!

        • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

          Haha, good point

        • Jbiden says:

          The only logical solution is the one that will likely occur: the gym will be closed. Nice work.

          • G Gomez says:

            Exactly what I think will happen. It sounds too small to accommodate twice the number of people. And future buildings like this won’t have such amenities.

            Didn’t the $1000 a month folks sign leases that stated what was included with their apartment? Most of us do. And even if you assume they had no idea that a gym wasn’t included, are they saying that they wouldn’t have taken a $1000 2 bedroom apartment with terrace on the upper west if they had known? I’d sob with joy if someone offered that deal to me (just before I woke up).

            Can’t help it — I’m a lawyer, and when people start screaming “this is ILLEGAL!”, I start looking at whether or not that’s true. I’m still waiting for citation of a law that says that all tenants of a building, regardless of the price they are paying, are entitled to all amenities of the building. There are plenty of laws regulating exactly what a tenant is entitled to — and laws outlining what is and is not legal discrimination. And as far as I can see, this policy is not in violation of any of them.

            I promise that if they turn off the heat and hot water for the lower paying tenants, or exclude certain races or religions, I will join the parade of outrage.

            • manhattan mark says:

              Bruce & 9d8b: Go a little further back in history, rent control
              was put in place in the 1940’s( ww2)because of a housing
              shortage in nyc. If the vacancy rate ever got back to 5% the
              controls would have been removed, it never got back to 5%,
              but it stopped landlords from gouging the population of the
              city, which was reason for it. This dialogue started with gym
              regulations… my building has shareholders, RS and rent
              control, all can use the gym for $175 a year.

    32. TR says:

      I believe you get what you pay for! That building & lobby is gorgeous and I wish I could afford to live there but I can’t and I wont cry about it. If I were a rent stabilized renter I would just be happy to be there & pay way less than the market rate and keep very quiet. Imagine if a garage was attached to the building? would they cry that they can’t park there especially when the garage costs more than their rent! Also, If rent stabilizers want fairness they should stop passing their apartments to family members and give outsiders a shot at their unit. They pass these on for generations and still want more, ridiculous! They want champagne for the price of beer

      △ ▽

    33. norma l. perez says:

      im looking for 1or 2 bd. stebilized apt. for rent. i,m on social security. can u help me? i,m very independence im 73 yrs.

    34. norma l. perez says:

      im intrested in an stebilized apt.im on social security. im independendet