Monday, May 12, 2008

How to lie via conflation

Rent controlled and rent stabilized are incredibly different things in the context of the NYC rental market. Anyone who's had to navigate that market knows this, but Megan is depending on a limited number of those people reading her work, apparently. In another post on minimum wage Megan includes the following

Rent control was a great deal in New York in 1955. By 1990, rent controlled, or rent stabilized apartments were generally pretty squalid--do not believe television shows showcasing palatial apartments available for a song. Any apartment that great is occupied by a 90 year old lady who moved in during World War II, and you can bet the landlord has a camera on the door so he can prove that whoever tries to inherit it on joint tenancy did not actually live there. More typical was my ex-boyfriend's rent stabilized deal on the Upper East Side--$1400 a month for two small bedrooms overlooking an airshaft, a stove that hadn't worked since about 1970, and don't forget to step over the dead roaches as you come through the door.
To put it in very basic terms, rent controlled means the rent can only be raised a tiny amount with each new lease, while rent stabilized means there can 'only' be an increase of around 15%, depending on certain factors, per new lease, though landlords are allowed an additional bump when taking in new tenants. Finally, these laws only affect a tiny part of the market at this point. Rent controlled places are practically museum pieces, and rent stabilization generally only can be applied to properties renting for less than $2000 a month (tho there are, of course, other factors in determining it) which is not that big a piece of the market anymore.
And Megan didn't mention the square feet of her ex's apartment or the years he had it or where precisely it was, most likely because those factors would actually tell you something. If he had a large, say 600 sq feet or more, 2 bedroom near the park in the low 70s around 2000, he had a pretty good deal, dead roaches in the hallway or no. (N Megan, you grew up in NYC?) If he had 300 square feet near the East River in the low 100s in 1995, then he let himself get ripped off. Megan is lazy, it's true, but she's also intellectually dishonest, and let's not pretend the two are mutually exclusive.
In any case, it's a dishonest portrayal.


spencer said...

How do you live in 300 square feet?

Anonymous said...

I've been to NYC and seen friends who are paying twice what I am for a place the size of my kitchen, but I still don't know anything about the rental market in general. For a journalist who actually grew up there to not be able to honestly write about the subject? It's not just lazy, it's misinforming to people who should be able to reasonably expect to learn a thing or two, considering the source. How does she still have a job? Please tell me it's because she's under some contractual probationary period that hasn't expired.