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Dear Brick Underground: A landlord says a rent-stabilized tenant is acting 'greedy'

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Dear Brick Underground,
Hello. I'm a small private landlord living in Los Angeles. I co-own and self-manage a few small six-unit buildings with my brother. I enjoy reading Brick Underground to get new decorating ideas for our units and to learn more about how rent control/stabilization works in other cities.

Can you tell me how I can find a really cheap rent stabilized building to purchase in New York and then get all my new tenants to vacate their homes relatively quickly? I'd like to raise all the rents to market value, or even higher. Also, can you tell me how I can get around having to pay these rent stabilized tenants to leave? I'd also like to keep all their security deposits. Thanks for your help!

I assume that your immediate thought right now is that I am a greedy landlord who wants to have his cake and eat it three-four more times. And you should absolutely feel this way!

Well, my immediate reaction after having read the question "I want to move out of my rent-stabilized apartment. Can I get a buyout?" is that this is a greedy tenant who wants to have his cake and keep eating it over and over again!

[Editor's Note: A recent Brick Underground post elicited this sharp reaction from a Los Angeles landlord who follows real estate in New York City closely. If you want to offer a response, comment below or email us.] 

The tenant has already enjoyed the benefits of a rent-stabilized apartment for nearly two decades (with presumably under-market rent). In addition, this tenant has enjoyed the benefits of holding onto his under-market rent stabilized apartment without having to remain living there, while subleasing it out. He is presumably doing this by making up a small difference in rent, breaking even, or even profiteering from it. By continuing to “hoard” this unit, he is making it harder for other people to find available apartment units in New York on the open market, without having to go though him (essentially he’s a middle man). 

He already wants to permanently move out of his apartment, but STILL wants to try and get the landlord to pay him to do what he is going to do anyway. But to top this all off, he’s not even physically living in the unit anymore that he wants the landlord to pay him to leave! This guy’s level of greed is off the Richter scale!

This tenant is gaming a set of laws that have been designed to protect vulnerable tenants from unusually large increases, while still allowing a landlord a reasonable return on his or her investment, and for the risk that is being taken. 

Rent Stabilization laws were not intended to help tenants profit from simply renting an apartment. The tenant is contributing poorly to what has historically already been an adversarial relationship by definition between land "lords" and tenants. 

I know part of your mission is to help tenants maneuver the NY rental landscape without judgment and you answered his question very diplomatically. But, someone needs point out just how greedy this tenant is acting. 

Thanks,

Eric G.
Los Angeles