Tuesday, May 01, 2007

We need stronger tenant laws in New York. The current laws, tenant organizations, and tenant lawyers in New York are simply insufficient to defend a person's right to housing.

That one of the wealthiest cities on the planet cannot do something as basic as insure that people have a roof over their head is not due to incompetence. It is clearly the result of putting people as a second or third second priority, after other extraneous priorities, all and any of which should come after the basic needs of human beings.

Especially in light of the fact that these other priorities are, in the greatest majority, personal gain by a few individuals. Many will claim and be confused by many other reasons, rephrase personal gain in a million ways, such as "city tax income" or "free markets". In the end they are just saying they are responsible for the rights of the property, but not for the life of human beings living inside the property. Or in the street.

This minority of people will never agree with stronger laws defending tenants and human beings, unless there are thousands of organized people who strongly state their need for better law.

I propose these laws and policies, summarized first, below in more detail and reasoning:

1. Policies and laws discouraging speculative interests with NYC housing property, and encouraging home ownership by people who live in the properties.

2. Policies and laws applying the city's income from property towards projects assuring that NYC taxpayers are able to find affordable housing.

3. Making NYC municipal government ratify in law human rights to housing, in this way legally binding the government to be responsible for dealing with the consequences of its own housing policy, rather than churches and charities having to care for the homeless the city creates.

4. Policies and laws making it a criminal offense to abuse of NYC housing laws, courts, and officials, not merely a breaking of city and court rules.

5. Laws and policies eliminating the anonymity and legal curtain of landlords, allowing tenants to know who and where their landlords are, what other properties they own, and what their housing-corporation policies and activities are in all their properties.

6. Laws and policies encouraging the actual use of housing for long term living purposes and resulting creation of communities of long term residents, committed to their neighborhoods, and solutions for the large numbers of NYC travelers and other temporary or sporadic residents, and out of state or foreign investing residents.

In more detail:

1- This is in my view the most important point - encouraging people to own their actual home, rather than to become landlords of lots of other people. A person who own a home does not fight with the landlord, but rather, they take care of their home, doing their own maintenance, and caring for their building, street, etc. A tenant and landlord, on the other hand, create eternal fights over who is responsible for what, constant trouble for courts and police, result in poorly maintained properties, eternal litigation for numerous reasons, courts babysitting landlords and tenants on their basic obligations, and all kinds of legal games by both tenants and landlords, most commonly landlords, who have higher financial motive.

NYC apartments are becoming ever more corporate speculative investments, rather than used for housing. Buying and renting large numbers of NYC housing units is profitable. It is profitable to have tenants continually move in and out. Investing in and simply stocking unused NYC housing is profitable. Buying or building for the purpose of actual living in NYC housing is not at all profitable, and in many cases, a fool's investment, a mortgage trap, little more than false dreams. A naive and elusive "American dream" of home ownership.

All this simply creates a situation where everyone in NYC is a tenant, and few are the owners. People all over the world buy NYC property merely for investment, and leave them unused. Corporations big and small own all the housing, and people who live in them seldom own it. And people are currently being forced to leave in ever increasing numbers, as NYC rent regulation laws slowly and steadily no longer apply, as planned, to thousands and thousands of apartments.

A city property lax law making taxes very low if one lives and/or works in one's own NYC property, and high taxes if one does not live in the property, would help with this. If the tax was higher according to how many apartments the person or corporation owns, it would be more interesting to sell them to people who wish to live in them, rather than continually accumulate and hoard apartments. Enforcement would simple, a tax declaration would simply need to accompany proof of residence, and clearly impossible for someone owning 100 buildings.

, given that housing is extremely costly to the city, and said landlords could be seen as abusing of NYC housing resources built over many years, for purely personal gain. There is currently no civil penalty for a landlord that, for example, evicts tenants for no legal reason, falsifies records, guilty of graft with city officials, or lies under oath in court, all of which happen daily in NYC housing court.

The simple reason is that there is an extreme shortage of housing in NYC, and those representing speculative capital has for years insisted they plan to build housing, when in truth they manage to merely evict people from housing and keep people circulating among a diminishing supply of apartments of ever increasing prices.

1 comment:

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