Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Naive Muckrakers

In response to this "Worst. Landlord. Ever." post on Gothamist and its accompanying article in the NY Daily News, I felt compelled to write this little diatribe to sooth my temper. And so I begin:

Hmm... it sounds like to me that overzealous government regulation is the problem in both these stories, not evil landlords. Allow me to explain.

In the first story, Mr. Landau was denied the full usage of his property because of government fiat, and thus to flirt those inane rules, he had to make use of unlicensed workers who care not about obtaining permits. Licensed plumbers have their livelihood on the line, so they won't touch it, or not before being heavily bribed/paid.

Had government minded its own business in regard to determining the optimal occupancy of said housing, Mr. Landau could have hired the services of either plumber, and the prices would have been more equitable between the licensed and unlicensed. This does not completely absolve Mr. Landau of his guilt, however the government must own up to its fair share for creating the situation in the first place.

In the second story, just for starters, Gothamist left out the statement of Mr. Kosman's lawyer who said that his client was overwhelmed from trying to repair a building where tenants aren't paying rent.

Again, due to moronic rent control/stabilization laws, landlords have no incentive to make repairs or to upkeep their buildings. In fact, the incentive system here has been turned upside-down.

Just imagine you own a building, in which no one pays market rents, is it in your best interest to spend as much as you can on maintaining it, and keeping your tenants happy -- or as I correctly suspect, you the landlord will not go out of your way, and will only perform the bare legal minimum required since you would rather have the tenants vacate, so that you may eventually obtain market rents.

Thought so.

Again, I'm not looking to praise either of these landlords for their ignoble activities; I'm just trying to point out that its only because of excessive government regulations which lead up to situations such as this. Had the market place been freer, landlords would be forced to compete on quality product.

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