It’s Old People vs. Landlords in Vanishing Rent-Controlled Apartments

The fight over rent control has become essentially a battle of attrition between elderly tenants and landlords impatient to get them out, suggests an article today in the New York Post.

The Post reports on the case of 97-year-old Magnus Saethre, his $63 apartment and his $25,000 legal bill. Mr. Saethre has been in court repeatedly to try to get him to repair the unit, claiming the landlord is using the apartment’s condition to drive him out.

Of course, rent control has always killed landlords’ incentive to fix up units, but with the rapidly falling number of rent-controlled units landlords may be growing more impatient for tenant turnover, the article suggests. In the last 20 years, the number of rent-controlled unit has fallen from 155,000 to under 40,000, according to the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

The good news, of course, is that landlords are undertaking massive renovation projects on apartments they can now rent at market rates. The bad news for rent-controlled tenants, as The New York Times reported in the spring, is that if they live in the last remaining rent-controlled unit in their building, they may also find themselves in the midst of a construction zone.