The Rent Is Too Damn High
June 13, 2018 8:51 AM   Subscribe

 
I say this as a person with a rental property: taxes on non-owner-occupied residential properties need to be way, way, way higher.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:14 AM on June 13 [47 favorites]


On commercial ones as well but I don't know that I'd want to prioritize that over residential. In general all real estate in nyc make me want to lay down on the floor and scream.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:22 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Rent control is great for the people lucky enough to get it, but as soon as you force the price of housing below the market price, you create a shortage. Think of all the people who would want to move to NYC if rent control forced the price per square foot to be the same as Houston's. There'd be massive waiting lists for every apartment (which would be unlikely to prioritize people by need), and in the end, a massive black market and all the problems that black markets bring. The best solution to maintaining affordable housing is to meet strong demand with a strong increase in supply. In the case of landlocked NYC, this means redeveloping and building up.
posted by thomisc at 9:44 AM on June 13 [41 favorites]


The best solution to maintaining affordable housing is to meet strong demand with a strong increase in supply. In the case of landlocked NYC, this means redeveloping and building up.

It could also mean "greatly improving the public transit to serve people on the fringes", so people without cars wouldn't all be trying to cram into the "near a subway" apartments and leaving the apartments on the fringes alone.

There are pockets of the city that would definitely be cheaper for me rent-wise and are in attractive neighborhoods, but my commute to work in Midtown would be easily about 2 hours so I don't consider them. Gimme a high-speed subway to Floral Park or Tottenville and I'd consider moving there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on June 13 [38 favorites]


all real estate in nyc make me want to lay down on the floor and scream

Some friends of mine were just evicted from their (Queens) apartment with zero notice after the ceiling collapsed (shoddy construction) the day they brought their newborn home from the hospital, and the landlord decided that evicting them would be somehow less cumbersome than fixing it and sorting out liability (I suspect that he is very wrong).

(Thankfully they have the means to handle this, and have also found a new place. But if they didn't? It would be devastating.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:54 AM on June 13 [14 favorites]


I was with you until “building up” — that’s not so friendly to actual human communities and neighborhoods.

But yeah, functional mass transit to every part of the outerboroughs, and tax the shit out of luxury developers. Tax them until they run away to leech off some other city. They really are the actual fucking worst.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:56 AM on June 13 [9 favorites]


I'm looking at you, Jimmy McMillian.
posted by Schadenfreude at 10:01 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The pitfalls of rent control is one of the things that economist consensus is probably right about (DOI: 10.3386/w24181).

In the case of NYC I agree with BuddhaInABucket: the penalty for having, let alone building unoccupied housing should be enormous. NYC real estate development has been entirely focused around builting super luxury units as a form of wealth storage for foreign investors, rather than being designed first and foremost for human habitation.

If state regulation and financing is going to be directed anywhere, I'd much rather see an increase in supply through publicly funded or encouraged housing than an emphasis on the perpetually broken rent control system.
posted by the_querulous_night at 10:06 AM on June 13 [23 favorites]


New York lost its soul when it priced out its young artists.

I've mentioned this like a billion times on this site, but.... I was listening to a Pod Save America interview with the New Yorker author that said we've reached a turning point with Cohen where we'll very quickly see that Trump was involved in all kinds of crooked dealings. They asked him what inside knowledge he had, and he simply replied that Trump was involved in real estate in New York. That was it. That was all this journalist needed to know to be 100% certain that Trump was a crook of epic proportions. Then he went on to say that New York's economy is basically run on white collar crime. A lot of lower class crime may have disappeared in New York, but white collar crime exploded, and that's who basically runs and lives in New York now.

Anyway fix the ridiculous transportation problems and you'll see all kinds of new group in surrounding areas. Chris Christie screwed New York and New Jersey by turning down Obama's offer to build a free tunnel. I saw red when that happened.
posted by xammerboy at 10:19 AM on June 13 [28 favorites]


tax the shit out of luxury developers

Some of my family has some low-income rental properties and they've occasionally asked me for help with basic accounting. I might be biased, but the profits aren't high - it's obvious to me that they would make a lot more money if they charged higher rent, even if that had to be justified by the larger upfront cost of "upgrading" the property.

(If you're building new or doing serious renovations, the cost of "luxury" construction isn't as different as the cost of "budget" construction as a lot of people think, especially since a lot of that "luxury" pricing goes into style instead of actual quality of construction.)

Meanwhile, on the other side - as a tenant, and as someone with friends who would like to buy a house but can't - I'm watching all the housing stock in my college town get snapped up by investors and either going unoccupied or being turned into expensive rentals. I don't say "luxury" because no one in their right mind would think they're luxurious; they just have luxury prices.

The lack of affordable housing means that I live in one of the most socioeconomically segregated cities in the US. The middle class can't buy homes here. Anyone who makes below median wage will struggle to pay rent on the cheapest available apartments. Minimum wage means you're sleeping outdoors. Everyone is being pushed out to satellite towns.

That has all sorts of implications for the people being priced out, in terms of day-to-day quality of life (longer commute times, more reliance on cars, less access to community resources) and in terms of long-term prosperity (education, economic mobility, etc).

I'm so mad about it. NYC is being reenacted all over the country, even in much smaller cities. We don't need a solution just for NYC, but one for the entire fucking country.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:23 AM on June 13 [35 favorites]


A lot of these problems are happening in Toronto, as well. I see it as partly being linked to the clawing back of pensions and other job benefits. What I've seen a lot here is that the upper middle class and other people who are doing pretty well but aren't, like, C-suite level folks have been able to replace those previous benefits with "investment properties," very often with the help of parents or whatever, and they have become a replacement for retirement funds, supplementary health insurance, etc. The lower-middle class and everybody else get priced out of ownership entirely *and* wind up paying, through rents, for the property-based-pensions and what have you of the upper middle and lower rich, all of which fuels the actual rich people's desire for "buy it and let it sit empty" investment properties into a vicious cycle (I talked to a guy last year who tripled his money on a never-lived-in condo in just over three years--to him avoiding the hassle and risk of a tenant was worth more than the loss of rental income while he waited for his investment to mature).

tl;dr: Hard-won employment benefits have been clawed back, and the people who still have some means have found a way to cope via the housing market, and that way has helped screw everybody else by exacerbating a number of other housing-related problems.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:37 AM on June 13 [15 favorites]


Evicted by Matthew Desmond covers a lot of these issues, particularly as they affect the urban poor, through the lens of the eviction process and the ultimate effect that does have on rent costs. I don't doubt that a lot of what he found in Milwaukee is relevant to most cities in the US, and it is such heartbreaking stuff. It should be required reading.
posted by zizzle at 10:55 AM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The best solution to maintaining affordable housing is to meet strong demand with a strong increase in supply. In the case of landlocked NYC, this means redeveloping and building up.

Nonsense. The vast vast majority of units added to the rental market in the past few years have been "luxury" and have done eff-all to push rents down for the average renter.

Are you, perhaps, vaguely aware of what happened to Boston/Cambridge when they repealed rent control (against the will of the people actually living there) in 1995? You'd think people advocating for the end of rent control would be eager to point to the astonishing wave of affordability that swept over the area when it was abolished, how it is now virtually a renter's paradise, how the housing stock has improved dramatically without pricing people out, etc. Mysteriously, they do not.
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on June 13 [26 favorites]


I have a theory about this, because I see it in action. Wealth is being aggregated. People who have money want to have more money; it's capitalism, their wealth should be working. They invest in rental property and raise rents to their maximum. In some markets they buy rental property and wait for the value to increase, and don't rent it because of the hassle. On a smaller scale, rich people can afford multiple homes, so properties are converted from rental to seldom used.

The current version of capitalism in the US says that not only must money work, but every dollar must be maximized. There is no sense of being part of a community and keeping rents fair. I have friends who rent 2 units in their home, they deliberately keep rents well below market. When I had a rental unit, I kept the rent at the lower end of market rate because it meant I could be way more choosy about who lived in my home, as well as trying to be decent. That's considered kind of crazy.

More and more properties are owned by bigger and bigger companies. Piss them off, and you'll have trouble renting again. They will take you to court because they're so big, they have a staff lawyer, and they do it a lot and they want every single dollar.

Unregulated capitalism with low taxes is really screwing up the US. Rent control is a poor method of helping renters, but it's better than anything else available. It doesn't help everybody, but it helps some people. Public housing is similar.
posted by theora55 at 11:01 AM on June 13 [12 favorites]


I always have trouble hearing "rent control drives up rents" without automatically hearing "for me". It seems like a fairly selfish proposition to think that someone else needs to lose their home so that you can get a small discount on your market rate rent. Even the worst studies (I'm looking at you Stanford) admit that rent control does exactly what it's suppose to do- keep poorer people in their homes, which they might otherwise lose, and keep them in the city. Does it make prices go up? Probably. For new people moving there, I'm sure it's frustrating. But if your company has enough money to be there, they have enough money to pay you whatever exorbitant cost of living is required. If not, maybe it's the company should be considering relocation. Not every poor person in town.

The other thing that rarely seems to show up is the way we live now- it's worth noting that Boston had a _way_ higher population in the 50s and 70s than it does today- but many of those were larger families in a given home. The ideal of having a 1bd apartment for each and every person doesn't help towards solving a shortage of housing. Every time a family of 6 with rent control is kicked out to make two market rate 1bds, I seriously doubt that the rental market magically adjust downards. Almost as though first year economics wasn't everything, and there was a reason for the next few years of study (or PhDs).
posted by whm at 11:12 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


New York lost its soul when it priced out its young artists.

That's something I just can't buy into.

Monmartre was in the boonies once upon a time.
So was Williamsburg.
So was Somerville, MA.

And if artists have to colonize Yonkers or Bridgeport or (?), that's the circle of life.
posted by ocschwar at 11:14 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Nonsense. The vast vast majority of units added to the rental market in the past few years have been "luxury" and have done eff-all to push rents down for the average renter.

That is simply not true. Every luxury unit that's occupied means one less yuppie bidding up the rent in older housing stock. The people moving into luxury apartments are coming to NYC to work. They won't be deterred by the prospect of having to live without granite countertops.
posted by ocschwar at 11:16 AM on June 13 [12 favorites]


New York lost its soul when it priced out its young artists.

Sarah Schulman's Gentrification of the Mind points out that one of the outcomes of the AIDS crisis was that a huge number of rent-controlled apartments in New York were lost because tenants died and their partners didn't have inheritance rights.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:21 AM on June 13 [27 favorites]


Yeah but people aren’t moving into luxury towers

The answer is simple, decommodify housing as a human right. This can take many forms but we shouldn’t subject something as basic as shelter to the inanities of the market.
posted by The Whelk at 11:23 AM on June 13 [32 favorites]


Somewhat relatedly, I'm writing postcards for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; if you're interested in doing that too, memail me and I'll put you in touch with the person sending out the postcards and address lists.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:29 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I always have trouble hearing "rent control drives up rents" without automatically hearing "for me".

That's funny, because whenever I hear someone arguing for their rent control it sounds like “f.you, I got mine & I'm keeping it” to me. They get their rent control & everyone else suffers, but hey, why should they care?

Yes, the property market is a grinding mess that is grossly unfair in almost every way, but rent control will just make things worse.
posted by pharm at 11:29 AM on June 13 [13 favorites]


One classic method for destroying a union is to push for a contract with a two-tiered system of wages and benefits. Generally incumbent workers continue to receive their accustomed pay and benefits for the duration of their career, while future hires come in at lower wages and with fewer benefits. Management often presents such a contract as the only alternative to across-the-board cuts, and since the future employees who will fall into the lower tier don't get a vote, it's often a pretty easy sell. In the long term, of course, the workers who vote for such a contract are getting suckered; management is well aware that down the line there will be a critical mass of workers in the lower tier to allow the boss to pull the rug out from under the higher-tier workers. (It's going to be pretty hard to ask those lower-tier workers to picket or strike to protect the higher-tier workers' benefits--benefits the lower tier has never received because the higher tier sold them out.)

What we're seeing now (and what's behind some of the debate about rent control in this thread) is an attempt to destroy NYC's social housing system with a similar two-tier attack. Politicians avoid outright rebellion from incumbent residents of public housing and rent-controlled apartments by keeping those systems barely limping along; but at a level of funding that does not allow for meaningful expansion to keep up with the city's growth, so if you're somebody living in private housing in 2018 and you lose your job or get priced out of your apartment, the chances that you will land an apartment in public housing are essentially zero. That's why the median age of NYCHA tenants is 54 vs 35 citywide. Rent-controlled housing follows the same pattern: no housing built since 1947 is rent-controlled and no housing built since 1971 is rent-stabilized, so again, incumbents receive a level of social housing stability which is unavailable to new housing market entrants (which includes both people moving to New York and children moving out of their parents' homes).

The route to a successful social housing system is to open both of these programs up: apply rent control to all private rents, and expand NYCHA to the point that it serves as a credible safety net for all residents instead of a transfer from one generation to another.
posted by enn at 11:38 AM on June 13 [38 favorites]


Another interesting book which examines gentrification and inequality in 4 cities (NYC is one, Detroit, NOLA, and SF are the other 3) is How To Kill A City by Peter Moskowitz. I thought it was a nice companion to Evicted (mentioned above) - it focuses less on personal stories of people moving through rental hellworld and more on the policy choices made over time.
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 11:41 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


The problem that I see with fixing housing markets is that people keep coming and there’s no real way to stop it without creating other problems. Like, you don’t just have to figure out how to house everyone currently in NYC but everyone who will come and also everyone who might come if you made it easier to come, and then what if there’s not enough housing stock?

NYC has eight million people. At what point do you say that we shouldn’t be encouraging more people to live there? Already the subway can’t handle the load, sanitation can’t handle the load.
posted by corb at 11:41 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Also I will note the worst hellhole I ever lived in was a rent controlled apartment where the landlord had no reason to fix anything ever.
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


"Already the subway can’t handle the load, sanitation can’t handle the load."

Infrastructure needs continuous maintenance, so "just leave things as they are" isn't necessarily a solution. And new residents bring new revenue as well as imposing new load. And there can be efficiency advantages that make the cost of infrastructure per person cheaper at higher densities.

I'm not even claiming you're wrong, just that you need a more complicated argument if you want to claim that infrastructure would be in better shape under a lower-growth scenario.
posted by floppyroofing at 11:52 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


Every luxury unit that's occupied means one less yuppie bidding up the rent in older housing stock.

Yes. But a small but growing number are unoccupied: About 75,000 to 100,000, which suggests a possible role for a vacancy tax.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:52 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


Are you, perhaps, vaguely aware of what happened to Boston/Cambridge when they repealed rent control?

Removing rent control without also allowing for sufficient new building will not create affordable housing for all. You need housing supply to grow fast enough to meet demand.

The vast vast majority of units added to the rental market in the past few years have been "luxury" and have done eff-all to push rents down for the average renter.

Margins for the development of luxury developments are surely higher than those for mid- or low-priced developments, which is why those are the ones being built in places where doing new development is expensive and highly regulated. You'll only get low-priced developments in places where the fixed costs of development are also low.

Yeah but people aren’t moving into luxury towers

Some people are clearly buying luxury NYC real estate solely as an investment vehicle, not as a place to live. The slower the housing supply grows, the more money they'll make. If the housing supply in NYC would grow at a faster pace, real estate prices would grow at a slower pace, and it would make buying real estate purely as an investment a bad idea.
posted by thomisc at 12:10 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


How's the vacancy tax working out for Vancouver? Seems like it'd be practically a license to print money for the gov't of NYC, is there a non-corrupt reason why it doesn't seem to be in the offing?
posted by aramaic at 12:19 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


That's funny, because whenever I hear someone arguing for their rent control it sounds like “f.you, I got mine & I'm keeping it” to me. They get their rent control & everyone else suffers, but hey, why should they care?

Yes, the property market is a grinding mess that is grossly unfair in almost every way, but rent control will just make things worse.


As even the grossly distorted Standford study points out- it doesn't make it worse for people making less money who would otherwise been evicted en masse from the city (exactly what happened to Cambridge).

And frankly, regarless of whether it sounds like "f you, I've got mine', being blindly against it is just saying 'f. you, I don't have mine, so you should get out'.

Vancouver has built and built, (more housing than incoming population) with still skyrocketing rents, up until strong taxes and regulation seem to have finally slowed it a little bit. It turns out regulation helps, certainly more so than a blind faith in the free market and relying on developers to solve the problem.

Until things stablize, I'm completely fine with regulations that help those who need help the most, rather than providing modest rent relief for people who can already somehow afford thousands a month in rent. The other direction seems pointlessly inhumane and selfish.
posted by whm at 12:20 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Yes. But a small but growing number are unoccupied: About 75,000 to 100,000, which suggests a possible role for a vacancy tax.

Given how easy it would be to implement, yes. (Nobody here registered to receive mail and pay the NYS income tax? Boom. Vacancy tax.) That's NYC's budget hole right htere.
posted by ocschwar at 12:23 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


"At what point do you say that we shouldn’t be encouraging more people to live there?"

Isn't the real challenge here that we've come to a point where, if you're seeking economic opportunity or real social freedom (eg: large queer communities) there are only a few cities you can move to? Some of that is the centralization of capital, but I have to think (and I acknowledge that there's a lot of privilege in this perspective) that a lot of the rest of that is that social attitudes in a good portion of the rest of the country are pulling down those regions. Ages ago I moved from Chattanooga to the SF Bay Area, and as much as I love my friends there, and as much as the housing policies of the Bay Area are creating a huge economic divide, I can't imagine moving back to a cultural situation where there's a relatively closed group of a few hundred creatives and culturally liberal people living in the midst of that overall Bible Belt culture.

I have similar feelings every time I visit family in the Toledo Ohio area. Nice place, and on the one hand it's wonderful to have the small pocket of weirdos who all clump together so that pocket of weirdos is actually fairly diverse, on the other hand it's still people defining themselves as "not the dominant culture" rather than in terms of who they really are.

California has the additional burden of Prop 13 creating a huge incentive to existing land owners to fight any new development, and I realize that I won several lotteries by birth and luck in life to be a homeowner in my area, but I also believe that the faster that some of the central regions of this country can change their culture, the sooner they'll... well... face some of the same housing crunches that we on the coasts do, but also become attractive enough that they can provide the density that leads to opportunity.
posted by straw at 12:23 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


Pretty much every problem the city has could be solved by actually funding things to anything near the levels they’d need to create change, we could start by collecting the millions in unpaid feees and fines on landlords and property owners.

It should be financially ruinous to have repeated code violations OR run an empty lockbox building.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on June 13 [24 favorites]


Here's another data point in support of increasing supply.

FTA: "But the California Legislative Analyst’s Office recently released some positive data backing up this point: Particularly in the Bay Area since 2000, the researchers found, low-income neighborhoods with a lot of new construction have witnessed about half the displacement of similar neighborhoods that haven’t added much new housing."

We need more housing. Luxury housing qualifies as more housing, but it's not nearly enough and in the case of NYC and Vancouver (and elsewhere) is compounded by serving as a store of value for non-resident investors.

We need more housing for all parts of the market in most major cities. Outside NYC, the thing really holding us back is single family zoning and the super-local NIMBY fights that prevent a logical increase in housing density in areas that are increasing in population.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 12:24 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Outside NYC, the thing really holding us back is single family zoning and the super-local NIMBY fights that prevent a logical increase in housing density in areas that are increasing in population.

CT and MA have a ban on snob zoning for exactly that reason. Towns have to zone a part of their centers for affordable housing and then let the developers build it, or else the state moves in and rewrites the zoning codeo for the town.
posted by ocschwar at 12:29 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


Vancouver has built and built, (more housing than incoming population) with still skyrocketing rents
In October 2016, the rental vacancy rate was 0.8% in the City of Vancouver.
http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/housing-characteristics-fact-sheet.pdf

The US average vacancy rate is 5%.

New York has actually done a pretty good job of building compared to most major cities in the US - it's year over year rent growth was only 1%, which was below average for growing cities, and SF and San Jose have higher median rents, and Oakland will probably surpass NYC in the next 1-2 years.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:34 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Isn't the real challenge here that we've come to a point where, if you're seeking economic opportunity or real social freedom (eg: large queer communities) there are only a few cities you can move to?

Yeah, there's definitely a huge problem where companies move to places they can be guaranteed a steady stream of workers without having to build up the infrastructure for it, thus meaning that more and more people are increasingly crammed into the same few locations. 100% agreed - I'm just not sure how to fix it.
posted by corb at 12:39 PM on June 13


Rent control is making renting more affordable by transferring wealth from landlords to renters. It seems like you could accomplish this same goal by increasing property taxes and then having a progressive subsidy where the tax revenue is redistributed to the kind of lower-income, long-term residents you want to subsidize, to help them afford market-rate rents. To me, this is much more appealing, because it avoids distorting the market for rent, so price signals still work, and it avoids weird incentives and rules around when you get to reset rents on a unit (e.g. pressure to evict rent-controlled residents.)

Are there some arguments for why the tax-and-redistribute approach is less effective than rent control at achieving rent control's goals?
posted by value of information at 12:44 PM on June 13 [12 favorites]


Yeah we just spent our life savings on half a small condo in TO (the other half is mortgage) and it sure as shit isn’t intrinsically worth What we paid. Most of it is vintage 1980s apartment, and instead of moving in early I am busting my ass on DIY renovation so we can have something modestly nice to live in, instead of mouldy carpet and a rotten countertop. The transfer tax was rude, and the property tax is crazy but .... it’s the best location for us and our needs. Unless something bizarre happens we’ll die there.

There are cranes all over the city. And still the prices rise. Because there are square miles of single family and semidetached houses within blocks of the downtown core. It’s utterly ridiculous and that shit needs to be knocked down ASAP. Zoning is so stupid here.

I dunno what the answer is, but I will say we would be FUCKED if we hadn’t bought, because right now we’re paying 2k a month for a 2/1 in High Park and that’s never getting cheaper. We’re lucky in a way but this is still the result of 30 years of hard work.

Co op housing would have been the alternative, but it’s such a great idea the wait lists here can be up to a decade long, if they are even open at all.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:48 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


As the resident of a NYC rent-stabilized apartment in a wealthy area, I can say that there are certain intangibles that one could argue rent regulation allows for, like a bit of economic diversity (which brings with it racial and other kinds as well). That said, I think something like value of information's proposal might be nice as well.

And a vacancy tax would be helpful as well; I believe De Blasio at least semi-seriously advocated for something like that during his first term.

But another thing that is happening with greater and greater frequency in my neck of the woods is that commercial landlords got addicted to rents from big name renters like clothing brands who came in for a couple of years and just as quickly left, raising landlords' expectations to such an extent that the normal businesses in the neighborhood are pretty much all being forced out whenever their leases expire. And the landlords would rather get the extremely favorable tax treatment they get from their vacant properties than lower the rent to something realistic for businesses that might want to stick around.

There have been legislative attempts to fix this situation, but such is the power of landlords and developers that nothing seems to ever come of it (or any other progressive real estate initiative).
posted by lackutrol at 12:58 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


Are there some arguments for why the tax-and-redistribute approach is less effective than rent control at achieving rent control's goals?

-In the long run, property tax incidence falls on renters.
-NYC already has a real property tax credit for people making under $200K.
-It's easier for later lawmakers to slash subsidies than to undo an entire regulatory system.
-Rent stabilization/control laws protect tenants not only from rising rents, but also from having to move at all by guaranteeing a renewal lease - in NYC, you often need first, last, and 1-month security to sign a lease; that kind of up-front cash is not feasible for many low-income folks, even if the monthly rent is subsidized.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:06 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


"Are there some arguments for why the tax-and-redistribute approach is less effective than rent control at achieving rent control's goals?"

I don't know about the "redistribute" part, but taxes on rental units aren't really paid by landlords, they are passed on--and then some, often as not--to renters. High taxes on rental properties increases rents.

"The transfer tax was rude, and the property tax is crazy"

One of the craziest things, to me, is how low Toronto's property taxes are as a percentage, although absurd property values can make the actual amount in raw dollars very high. They can be as little as a third of what you'd pay in some small towns. A friend of mine owns a 1,000 square foot bungalow on a half lot in my hometown, a property that honestly can't be worth more than $120,000, possibly even less, and she pays something like $9,000 a year in property taxes.

Although these two examples basically show that taxes are a place where there's no easy solution.
posted by Fish Sauce at 1:07 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


As the resident of a NYC rent-stabilized apartment...

Too deep in these same issues today to actually give a comprehensive comment now, but in NYC there is an important distinction between rent control and rent stabilization. Just FYI.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:10 PM on June 13


"In the long run, property tax incidence falls on renters."

Do you have any links to evidence?

I ask because I just assumed the same thing and then started googling around and reading some stuff, and... found myself more confused than when I'd started.

Landlords charge what they can get, and that doesn't change when their expenses go up. If taxes go up to the point where market rates no longer make them profit--they could try getting out of the rental market, but then they'll still be paying the same property tax (depending how your local property tax works). They can sell, but then presumably if the property tax has decreased the property's value as a rental it will also decrease the sale price?

I may well be thinking about this wrong. The one thing I'm sure of here is that I don't understand the incidence of property tax on renters.
posted by floppyroofing at 1:18 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]




One classic method for destroying a union is to push for a contract with a two-tiered system of wages and benefits...

This is a phenomenonal analogy that captures the key dynamic very well, thank you.

100% agreed - I'm just not sure how to fix it.
Not having the eternal martyr of the Republicans Robert Bork persuade the political class to stop enforcing anti-trust law would have helped. Leon, who just shutdown DoJ's attempt to block the AT&T/TW merger, was a Bush 43 appointee. It's almost like there's a partisan slant to outcomes here.
posted by PMdixon at 1:24 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


but in NYC there is an important distinction between rent control and rent stabilization.

Indeed so. Technically I live in a stabilized apartment, but the "fair market rent" the landlord set, with virtually no oversight, is about $1000/mo higher than the actual market rent for an apartment like the one I have. He then charges me a "preferential rent" which is by coincidence about the same as the actual market price. This is great, right up until he raises the rent up to whatever he feels like because the rent stabilization is purely a theoretical construct. Lots of people live in stabilized apartments and don't even know it.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:25 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Landlords charge what they can get, and that doesn't change when their expenses go up.

It does in NYC. Landlords get around rent freezes and rent stabilization rates by claiming "major capital improvements," the costs of which they pass on directly to tenants, and the increases in rent are permanent, for the rest of the time a tenant lives in that building, perhaps years after the landlord made back whatever it cost to replace the roof or the boiler. Landlords in NYC just got some breaks on their property taxes, and they sure as hell haven't passed those savings on to their renters.
posted by halation at 1:30 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


...I am well aware of the distinction between rent stabilization and rent control, but for most of the people in this thread I think that distinction is not pertinent; seems to me we are talking about rent regulation writ large.

1adam12--I am in the same boat! The ridiculousness that is "preferential rent" needs to be ended as well. We can thank Pataki for the perversion of that part of the rent laws (and Bloomberg for many years of larger-than-warranted increases).
posted by lackutrol at 1:31 PM on June 13


Towns have to zone a part of their centers for affordable housing and then let the developers build it

Our city has similar housing problems to NYC, although obviously on a much, much smaller scale. On the last few developments that have been built, only bids with X number of affordable units were accepted. In every single case, the developer reneged on the affordable units but was given no consequences for it. It really pisses me off.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:32 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah the property taxes are too low in Toronto. Part of that is because they have been offset by the municipal land transfer tax (which is probably a good thing) and the rest is because enough of the city keeps voting in councilors whose main goal is to keep property taxes low. If council increases the budget then the rate will get calculated accordingly.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:21 PM on June 13


Rent control without vacancy control is worthless fuck you got mine shit. Building better transit, especially in medium-sized cities, and expanding extant transit in the expensive ones seems like the longterm plan. Add in vacancy taxes for spice.

People live in NYC because they want to live in a city and not fucking drive everywhere. Get multiple decent employers and a real transit system in medium-sized cities, and people will live in them.
posted by dame at 2:29 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


dame: Get multiple decent employers and a real transit system in medium-sized cities, and people will live in them.

Yep. And the disappearance of long-term jobs adds to the pain for medium-sized cities. If a company is growing and shrinking with each project that comes through, they want to be in a city where they know that lots of similar companies are also growing and shrinking, so that they can pick up experienced workers as other companies let them go. And if you're a worker on short-term contracts, you want the same thing; when your current project wraps up, you want there to be multiple employers close by who might be ramping up and need you.

The only way to keep people in small and medium sized cities is to have long-term jobs. If you don't have that, the big city is the best option for both employers and employees.
posted by clawsoon at 3:01 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


According to this article, a Stanford study concluded that rent control does drive up rental prices, but only because shitty landlords enact shenanigans to get those renters out and then either remove the units from the market or convert them to something not covered by rent control.

While rent control may seem like fuck-you-got-mine shit for the small percentage of people lucky enough to have it, unregulated rent is just FYGM shit for landlords who are free to screw people over as they see fit. I used to rent from the most egregious offender in this NYT article and, coming from SF where I lived in the same place for 11 years with zero fear of eviction, it was a shock to the system when he booted all four units in our building because he was "selling it." Then of course three months later it is back on the market for 150% more with a new paint job and a fancier back yard.

We left NYC because, unless you are really rich, you can't set down roots there in any meaningful way unless you are OK with potentially being relocated at a moment's notice. That is not OK.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:02 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


"Landlords charge what they can get, and that doesn't change when their expenses go up.

It does in NYC. Landlords get around rent freezes and rent stabilization rates by claiming "major capital improvements," the costs of which they pass on directly to tenants"

Yeah, for what it's worth, I think that (and I think melissasaurus's comment) was just about market rents. Rent regulations add interesting complications!

"Landlords in NYC just got some breaks on their property taxes, and they sure as hell haven't passed those savings on to their renters."

And in the absence of rent control I wouldn't expect savings to be passed on either. Normally if expenses go down I think what causes the savings to be passed on is the threat of competitors moving in, but where a city's already built up close to the limits of zoning, that doesn't happen. So it's just a windfall for current landlords (and a wash for future landlords, who will have to pay higher prices to get the now-more-profitable property).

So I guess it's just a case of tax incidence depending on the relative elasticity of supply and demand. In a city with a fixed amount of real estate for rent the supply is totally inelastic....

Apologies for the econ 101 rambling.
posted by bfields at 3:39 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Cities need to stop promoting job growth without simultaneously promoting housing growth. They need to be directly connected by law.

When a developer designs a new office building, city regulations mandate that they provide a certain number of parking spaces for every new office job in that building. Likewise, city regulations should require that they provide a certain number of housing units for every new job in an office building.

Office developers would not have to build houses themselves. They could purchase housing credits from other developers that build houses, just like carbon cap and trade. But there would be a requirement of a new house for every new job.

It doesn't make sense to keep promoting job creation in cities that already don't have enough houses for the workers. Tie job creation to housing creation by law. If you are going to build a big new office tower, then you are also on the hook for a complementary number of houses, just like they do for parking spaces.
posted by JackFlash at 4:30 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Mandatory parking spaces mean more cars, less transit, fewer units, and therefore higher rents.
posted by PMdixon at 4:35 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


While rent control may seem like fuck-you-got-mine shit for the small percentage of people lucky enough to have it

If you mean rent control and rent stabilization, you're talking about one-third of NYC's apartments. People in these discussions seem to think that just a few NYers benefit from regulated rents, but that's not true – there are more rent-regulated than market-rate apartments in the city.
posted by nicwolff at 4:40 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


The last article proposes universal rent control, so I don't know why everyone is so focused on "fuck you, got mine." Everything should be regulated. Rent regulation doesn't just protect from rent increases, it creates stability by guaranteeing renewal leases and only allowing evictions under a limited set of circumstances.

Every luxury unit that's occupied means one less yuppie bidding up the rent in older housing stock. The people moving into luxury apartments are coming to NYC to work. They won't be deterred by the prospect of having to live without granite countertops.

This seems to make sense, but NYC is building new housing as fast as they can. It's all expensive, unregulated housing. And yet, rents in older housing stock continue to skyrocket. NYC is known for its housing shortage, but it doesn't actually have one. It has an affordable housing shortage. If you can afford $3000+ a month, you'll be fine.

I'm a tenant attorney, and the whole thing is an absolute shit show. Landlords of regulated apartments have to register them. No one actually checks the registrations, so landlords lie with impunity. Housing codes are unenforced. Fines are uncollected. Known fraud is unprosecuted. Simple solutions are not implemented because the real estate lobby owns New York politicians. Universal rent control would be an absolute dream, but the city won't even enforce the laws already on the books.
posted by Mavri at 4:44 PM on June 13 [17 favorites]




The one thing I'm sure of here is that I don't understand the incidence of property tax on renters.

I don't either. The way New Jersey extends income tax credits/deductions for property taxes to renters is a decent start on mitigating landlords' tendency to pass those costs through to renters. It doesn't seem to have much direct connection to actual property taxes paid, it's just a percentage back on rent paid for the year.

Not that getting that money back once a year is in any way preferable to not having to spend it on rent in the first place, but I approve of any income tax policy that isn't entirely a windfall for homeowners.
posted by asperity at 6:17 PM on June 13


The thing about all this "people can just move to other cities" is that as a lifelong resident of not-NYC, I can totally agree with that, but I also think that I have now run into several people in SF and NYC who seem to have an unrealistic idea of what renting in a non-economically-trashed city outside of the coasts actually costs based on the fact that cost of living in midwestern states in general is quite low. Do I spend $3k a month in rent? No. But rental costs in my "affordable" midwestern city are also getting unreasonable by local income standards, also due to lack of regulation, despite nominally having a lot more space in which to spread out. Probably lots of people and businesses currently in NYC would benefit from relocation if they can do so, but property owners take advantage of tenants no matter what, and people need to be protected from that.
posted by Sequence at 8:13 PM on June 13 [11 favorites]


Simple solutions are not implemented because the real estate lobby owns New York politicians

My emphasis. This is a polite way of saying it.

I’d say it’s more like real estate is the organized crime that owns the city.

I promise this is not an exaggeration.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:26 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


aramaic: "How's the vacancy tax working out for Vancouver?"

Long term it's tough to tell but it seems to at least cooled the bubble a bit. And heck even if it ends up not really effecting rental rates or availability at least it'll be taxing people forcing them to give back a little for their antisocial behaviour.
posted by Mitheral at 8:55 PM on June 13


It doesn't make sense to keep promoting job creation in cities that already don't have enough houses for the workers. Tie job creation to housing creation by law.

God, absolutely. It's been amazing in Seattle how many people seem to think that Amazon filling another SLU office tower with programmers is intrinsically good for the city.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:19 PM on June 13


If too many people want to live in NYC, maybe living in NYC itself should be taxed and the money spent on improving other less fortunate cities. This already happens a bit via income taxes but an specific redistribution to other cities in the area would reduce demand for NYC housing. You'd need to pick beneficiary cities outside plausible commuting distance.
posted by zymil at 10:36 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Markets exploit and harm poor people. Whether thats housing, food, labor, medicine, etc. Markets work for rich people to give them choice and power, markets remove (privatize and exclude) all things from poor people: Thats what property IS, its a way for "owners" to benefit at the expense of "non owners". A) Public institutions and public goods, B) the regulation of private institutions and owners, or C) the periodic equal redistribution of real property and capital are the possible solutions to actually help non-owners if that is your goal.

A) was half-hearted in america at best and is being starved out; B) is in retreat after years of propogabda and corruption C) can not even be spoken of.

Also, most people (who don't have geographically determined jobs like mining, harbor master or farmer) most people should be living in well regulated, efficient, well provisioned with social goods, ecofriendly cities: public schooling, public housing, public transportation, public health and retirement security through social insurance, etc. Suburban and rural living is conspicuous consumption, a way to murder other people's children with your pollution, your economic and racial and political segregation, and your private paradise at the expense of everyone else's opportunity.

F@c( rent control, F@c( Land lords. No lords, no masters, no slaves, no servants. Public goods for the general welfare.

Also F@c Floram Park, redevelop edgemere and improve service to the rockaways
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:56 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure my comment is that constructive to our discussion, how about this: in a nation with worsening income inequality, all the nice and necessary things in life will be bid up in price until it exlcudes the poor and soaks the middle class and becomes a trophy or investment for the rich, the solution isn't a small tweak in zoning or the building of more units (American cities already have more housing capacity than residents and if there is pent up demand, it is for affordable housing with reasonable commutes. That's not some exotic material that nature abhors and the laws of physics prevents, that is an infrastructure of buildings and transit systems we already know how to build, with a social contract that ensures the fairness of paid labor, and the minimum material benefits owed as a right to all people regardless of work or identity, supplies by redistributive taxation upon all in that social contract. I grew up 16 miles from manhattan, worlds away from manhattan. A 35 minute trainride, or a 2 hour drive. Rent Control was the least politicians of an older generation could do, and now we are depressingly striving to do even less than that. The "neighborhoods" that result from such excesses of wealth and investment aren't communities, many of them aren't even museums, they are deadzones without broken windows.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 12:34 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


The thing about all this "people can just move to other cities" is that as a lifelong resident of not-NYC, I can totally agree with that, but I also think that I have now run into several people in SF and NYC who seem to have an unrealistic idea of what renting in a non-economically-trashed city outside of the coasts actually costs based on the fact that cost of living in midwestern states in general is quite low.

THIS. SO much this. SO many times I see this kind of sneering comment that "oh well if all you hipsters would just get over yourselves and move to somewhere that's not cool then maybe you could afford your rent," but they don't take into account that if I moved to another city where the rent is lower, my income would also be lower. I very briefly looked into what the living conditions would be in Boulder, when my friends announced they'd be moving there; if I were to move there myself, my rent would drop a fraction, but average salaries for someone in my profession would drop by half.

If too many people want to live in NYC, maybe living in NYC itself should be taxed and the money spent on improving other less fortunate cities.

This is a terrible idea that is leading me to suspect you have some kind of a strange beef against New York City.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


if I were to move there myself, my rent would drop a fraction, but average salaries for someone in my profession would drop by half.

And for many people, even if the cost of living scaled down perfectly with the income, there would still be student loans to consider. Those payments don't get any cheaper when you move.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:56 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I very briefly looked into what the living conditions would be in Boulder, when my friends announced they'd be moving there; if I were to move there myself, my rent would drop a fraction, but average salaries for someone in my profession would drop by half.

The US is full of places like Boulder, where you can have both access to the outdoors and a great, walkable lifestyle full of craft beers, artisanal food, and all the other markers of the modern good life. Just sticking with the B's, you could list Bozeman, Boise...

However, while the cost of living is still cheaper than SF and NYC, costs have risen quickly in all of these places in the last decade, while wages have stayed stagnant. The people talking about how cheap it is either bought their house back before prices went up, or they bought using cash from selling a house in California or Seattle -- it's not so cheap if you are paying your own way in a normal kind of career. (And you'll want a car, so add that expense as well.) It might still pencil out as a good option, but you have to do the actual math for your situation and see how the expenses and income would balance in your specific situation.

The places that are seriously cheap do not have the amenities or the economy of places like Boulder.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:03 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


"I very briefly looked into what the living conditions would be in Boulder, when my friends announced they'd be moving there; if I were to move there myself, my rent would drop a fraction, but average salaries for someone in my profession would drop by half."

Boulder is an extreme case. It's literally the cautionary tale people tell in other small cities about what could happen if they don't deal with their own affordability crises. So don't stop looking there.

That said, the same thing is happening to some degree almost everywhere. It's not a problem with any one particular city, it's cities in general. And I don't think it's accounted for by population growth, it's migration into cities. More people need or want to live in a city.

(I'd be interested in pointers to any reading on the causes of continuing urbanization. Automation and other factors shifting to favor work that benefits from high local density of specialized "knowledge" workers? Demographic bulge around the empty-nester/retiree age where people are willing to trade some space for a busier/more walkable neighborhood? Younger people delaying starting families longer? All/none of the above?)

I like cities and I think people that want to live in them should be able to, so I'm in favor of trying anything and everything to welcome a diverse mix of people into every city.
posted by floppyroofing at 6:18 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I think part of it is people moving into the urban population, but part of it is access to credit generally. Even in small towns, renters get taken advantage of. You're expected to live well below your means in order to "save up" to buy your way into home ownership, but the landlords charging "what the market will bear" keeps people from being able to create that space. People on the whole, in particular people who don't have to pay it, have just accepted that it's right and normal for people who can't afford a down payment to pay more of their income for the same kind of housing. Places like NYC, those people are a much bigger part of the market, so it's more noticeable, but it's true even of people in very small towns and places with really depressed real estate markets.

I still know working-class people in Ohio who live in cities with supposedly a ton of excess housing stock who still can't afford to get out of renting, most of them younger and from lower-income backgrounds where there's no potential for parents helping out. But in those places, at least the middle class gets safely into houses, so those lower-income people who can't qualify for housing subsidies get kind of forgotten and renting gets treated like a transitory youthful thing and, like the minimum wage, like it applies primarily to people who don't need serious protections.
posted by Sequence at 6:55 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


I still know working-class people in Ohio who live in cities with supposedly a ton of excess housing stock who still can't afford to get out of renting, most of them younger and from lower-income backgrounds where there's no potential for parents helping out.

Most of that is because there is a cap on the bottom amount that banks will lend for housing before the risks and effort of making loans isn't worth the effort (in their opinion), so that creates an arbitrage opportunity for landlords to charge excess rent (ie: $500 a month for a place that wouldn't cost $50k to buy) vs a comparable mortgage. This situation is not very applicable to NYC in general.

However, there are legitimate reasons for that excess rent which is maintenance expense, and is not allocated nor collected on an owned property, and a few studies have been done that show that these low-priced properties really have a $500 (still our example) monthly cost of ownership, and if low income owners can't swing that, then all they are going to 'own' is a seriously deteriorating asset. Which is not to say that landlords are spending their rent arbitrage on maintenance in the real world. Plenty of slumlords still exist.

A better way around this would be community and local subsidized banking willing to make these loans and legitimate subsidized repairs for low-end property.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:26 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


The cap mentioned above is somewhere in the $50k range, and it freezes lots of small town and declining city renters from the mortgage market, which means scammy rent-to-own and lots of renters vs owners and lots of slumlords.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:28 AM on June 14


I really think that a major contributor to this phenomenon is that jobs, particularly white-collar jobs filled by people with college degrees, are increasingly concentrated in cities (and coastal and a few inland cities at that). Timothy Blee calls this the Pokemon Go economy.

Combined with this is the fact that people don't have one job until retirement and a gold watch anymore. There is a lot of churn in the job market, and very little security outside of a few companies and some government positions. So you get people wanting to live in an area where they can easily find another job if this one turns toxic or they are laid off or want to switch companies to advance in their career. And most couples are dual-career, at least before kids arrive, so even if one spouse got that lifetime tenured academic or salaried government job in $SmallCollegeTown, what will the trailing spouse do? Women, in particular, don't want to automatically sacrifice their career for their husbands' anymore (which they used to do so no dual-job problem).

The thicker job market is a major, major factor here. So is the fact that crime has dropped like a stone in places like New York and San Francisco, so more people with money are willing to move in to the city instead of a nearby suburb.

More jobs and less crime are good things, so I don't think anyone is going to want to put that toothpaste back in the tube. (There was a tweetstorm FPP on here shortly after D-Day 2016 where someone called upon well-off white people to move back to their hometowns to Make Akron Great Again or something. I doubt that's going to happen without something like a new WPA, which would be great for reasons other than revitalizing declining cities.)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:30 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


If too many people want to live in NYC, maybe living in NYC itself should be taxed and the money spent on improving other less fortunate cities.

Living in NYC is taxed - there's a personal income tax for residents, the MCTMT on employers, as well as a new tax for paid family leave, plus the 4.5% sales tax on top of the state sales tax.
posted by melissasaurus at 7:44 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


improving other less fortunate cities

If third- and fourth-tier cities really want people to move there perhaps they should just straight-up offer a risk bond that covers job loss hazard, racial abuse/assault by conservative shitheads, and so on.

I mean, if they really want to address the issue, that is.

Bitter? Me? Surely not.

(looks up at perfect N.California sky, reclines, sips his coffee, throws Tennessee-branded mug into the trash)
posted by aramaic at 9:14 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


Yeah more and more I'm coming to the conclusion that it's not melodramatic to worry about getting gay-bashed if I leave a major urban area.
posted by PMdixon at 9:53 AM on June 14 [6 favorites]


There’s a rally today at 5pm on the steps of the NY public library (the one with the lions) for universal rent control and if you see me say hi.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


don't you mean the one from the day after tomorrow
posted by poffin boffin at 10:00 AM on June 14


Boulder is an extreme case. It's literally the cautionary tale people tell in other small cities about what could happen if they don't deal with their own affordability crises. [...]
That said, the same thing is happening to some degree almost everywhere. It's not a problem with any one particular city, it's cities in general.


The fact that it's "cities in general" was precisely my point. Boulder simply happened to be the only city about which I happened to have concrete data.

But since everyone seems to agree with my larger, overall point that "move away from NYC to another city because the rents will be cheaper" doesn't work because "income also drops alongside the rents so it's not as much of a savings", then we're good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


I had a much longer rant here, but I've spared y'all that for an observation about housing in Ohio: my sister an d her husband for a while were working with houses and had rental properties in the Toledo Ohio area: They actually had a business plan that could provide a steady stream of renovated houses that could be rent-to-own for two people on a minimum wage. But as they were renovating they had vandalism problems, couldn't get police response to their neighborhoods, and when they got responsible tenants, they ended up losing money just to keep buildings occupied by people who weren't going to trash them.

Landlording, especially to the low-income population, especially in places without functioning government services, is hard work, with a way lower margin than they'd been led to believe.

Okay, maybe a little more rant: yes, what everyone else has said about "move away because rents will be cheaper". For a while in the early naughties I considered moving back to Chattanooga from the Bay Area, but I realized that I'd have to be paid more because I'd have to have the budget fly to conferences and meetings to keep the ideas, excitement and energy flowing. And where I found it easy to get people to pay me in California, I'd had to hound them mercilessly in Tennessee. And if I was gonna spend that much time on an airplane, it's better to live here.
posted by straw at 10:46 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


I like reading the comments on these non hot button topics.

Landlording, especially to the low-income population, especially in places without functioning government services, is hard work, with a way lower margin than they'd been led to believe.

This is why slumlords like loan sharks are often assholes. The kooky single family rental market usually seems to be more about trying to speculate on rising real estate values than anything that makes real bookkeepery sense. That and that it is one of the few places a "mom & pop" investor can leverage so easily and deduct paper losses against real earned income. Also the blank look when the word "recapture" comes up.
posted by Pembquist at 11:19 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


NYC would IMO benefit from really harsh punitive enforcement against toxic landlords. Rented w/o a COO? We seize your building. Failure to maintain? Seizure. Harassing tenants? Automatic jail time + building seizure.

Similar responses to chronic speeders and illegal parkers would also be welcome.
posted by beerbajay at 12:20 PM on June 14 [10 favorites]






If third- and fourth-tier cities really want people to move there perhaps they should just straight-up offer a risk bond that covers job loss hazard, racial abuse/assault by conservative shitheads, and so on.

They can offer it in physical form.

Build some fucking sidewalks. If a young person is committed enough to your town that he's willing to live there and bear the risk of a long spell of unemployment, at least make it safe to walk to teh store.
posted by ocschwar at 8:21 PM on June 14 [6 favorites]




How's the vacancy tax working out for Vancouver?
Per this article from the CBC
Of about 183,000 registered residential homes in the city, only 3,300 properties were subject to the tax....The highest tax paid was $250,000 for one home, while the median amount of tax paid was $9,900, Robertson said at city hall.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:28 AM on June 15




Since everyone seems to agree with my larger, overall point that "move away from NYC to another city because the rents will be cheaper" doesn't work because "income also drops alongside the rents so it's not as much of a savings"

We don’t all agree, nope. I fled NYC in part because of affordability concerns, and now I live in a gorgeous big place I would be happy to live in forever which costs way less than my much smaller place in NYC. The income /does/ drop somewhat, but actually not as much as the rents drop and available places that you’d actually want to live increase. I’ve been here for a few years and am very satisfied.

I will say though you can’t really get good food delivered, and restaurants suck more. That is real. I spend more time in my house and less time Going Out. But it’s not like you can’t do it. You absolutely can do it. The thing you can’t do is having the culture of NYC in a much less dense place - but affordability is totally possible.
posted by corb at 6:00 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


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