Reason on rent regulation: Reject Albany’s plans to take a wrecking ball to a half-dozen provisions, and embrace sane, targeted changes instead

Because it’s New York, legislators in Albany are scrambling behind closed doors to determine how to reform New York City rent laws that expire on June 15.

And because it’s 2019, the leading bills, put forward by pols on the leftmost edge of an emboldened Democratic leadership, would take a wrecking ball to just about every provision on the books, on the theory that they’re being rampantly abused by greedy landlords to force hard-luck tenants into homelessness.

This is caricature, not fact. Taken together, sweeping proposed reforms would shield people who don’t need protections from reasonable increases while eliminating building owners’ incentives to upgrade aging housing stock, among other pernicious side effects.

This page has long opposed rent regulations on the economic ground, shared by experts across the ideological spectrum, that the restrictions on 1.2 million units (a little more than half the city’s rental apartments) constrain the production of housing. But we realize that the statutes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon — which means the smartest course is to ensure intelligent adjustments aimed at protecting those in real need.

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