Sunday, December 03, 2006


UP FRONT News December 3, 2006
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

Any regulation that would allow landlords to charge more than one month security deposit will only worsen the already serious housing crisis facing poor and homeless people. It is a fact that there are millions of New Yorkers who scrape through on marginal and often fixed incomes who are in no position to generate the thousands of dollars mul- tiple months security deposits would require.

Indeed, in the absence of laws requiring landlords to open their books for any sort of rent or security deposit increase, no such increases should be awarded. Indeed, it is to be hoped the New York State legislature will consider an “open the books” requirement such as was contained in the oft-introduced in the past and (thanks to the landlord lobby in cahoots with so-called tenant “advocate” Mike McKee) defeated Flynn-Dearie Rent Protection Act. Under such a system a landlord in need of a rent (or security deposit) increase could justify such a demand by proving need.

Indeed, in a City with thousands of homeless people, with a hanging-by-a-threat and under-funded Section 8 program, with many neighborhoods experiencing widespread gentrification threats (the Lower East Side and Harlem being conspicuous cases in point), and with many tenants paying confiscatory portions of our income for rent, a multiple security deposit requirement constitutes an attack on the poor and middle class. It cannot be justified.

The idea that tenants should help pay for lead paint removal is also an attack on the poor. Landlords are responsible for the maintenance of their properties. For landlords who can prove need, tax abatements should be made available.

As regards a proposal that tenants overcharging roommates be evicted, considering what many landlords get away with (I know – the abusive Thomas Berger, President of the Association of Commercial Property Owners, king of the loftlords, was my landlord), such a proposal is overkill. Evictions cause homeless. A landlord that can prove over- charging by a tenant should be able to get a judge to order the offender to pay the money back.
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