[update! Rangel Now Only Hoards Three Rent Controlled Apartments]
In case you missed it, powerful New York Congressman Charlie Rangel has been hoarding four apartments in Harlem’s Lenox Terrace. Coincidently (perhaps not so coincidently) Lennox Terrace is the same building where New York’s Governor Patterson, Patterson’s father, former Manhattan Borough President, Percy E. Sutton, and Rangel’s Cheif of Staff, Jim Capel hoard rent-controlled (ahem, Rent Stabilized as it’s referred to by NY politicians) apartments. Not only does Rangel have four rent-controlled apartments in the building, but he has been using one of those apartments as a campaign office!
New York Times – Rangel Defends Use of Rent-Stabilized Apartments:
The Times reported on Friday that Mr. Rangel has four rent-stabilized apartments at Lenox Terrace, including three adjacent units on the 16th floor overlooking Upper Manhattan, in a building owned by one of New York’s premier real estate developers. (The apartment is featured in “Style and Grace: African Americans at Home,” a book published by Bulfinch Press.)
Mr. Rangel, the powerful Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, uses his fourth apartment, six floors below, as a campaign office, despite state and city regulations that require rent-stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence.
Mr. Rangel, who has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million, according to Congressional disclosure records, paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for the four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem’s most prestigious address.
The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel’s building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.
The use of multiple apartments that might not normally be available to other tenants could pose legal or ethical problems for Mr. Rangel. The House Ethics Manual defined a gift as “a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value.” But Mr. Rangel dismissed the notion that his housing arrangements could be construed as a gift.
“Paying the legal rent is not a gift. Are you doing this deliberately or are you just stupid? Listen — if you are paying a legal rent and without the law the rent would be higher, just what school did you go to that could misinterpret that as a gift?”
Well, if it wasn’t a gift it, it is legalized theft!
What is the scale of the gift (or legalized theft)? According to the NY Times it is about $30,000 per year:
Some Congressional ethics experts have said that while it appeared legitimate for Mr. Rangel to have one rent-stabilized apartment, the difference between what he paid for the second, third and fourth apartments and what a new market-rate tenant would pay — some $30,000 annually — could be considered a gift because it was given at the discretion of the landlord and was not generally available to the public.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with him having four apartments, but I don’t see any reason why Rangel couldn’t pay market rates for his rent. Even fans of rent conrol must see this as hoarding that prevents four other families from renting those stabilized units.
Matthew E. Kahn – Charlie Rangel and the Full Pay of Politicians
NY Post – CHARLIE RANGEL’S DEAL
NY Observer – Rangel Versus The New York Times
WCBSTV – Rangel’s Apartments Renew NYC Rent Control Debate I liked this quote from CBSTV:
Jason Kirby, who pays $1,900 a month for an unstabilized one-bedroom apartment in the same building, said he also has a deal, compared to the space he was renting on the Upper East Side. Even if his rent was stabilized, the 35-year-old restaurant manager is going to move to the suburbs in a few years, for even more space.
He called rent-stabilization “a golden pair of handcuffs” in the city. “The benefit of being here and staying here and making your home here in the city is you get, if you’re lucky enough, a rent stabilized apartment. … Then you can’t go anywhere else.”