The Real Deal New York

Former Rent Guidelines chair proposes end of vacancy decontrol

In a memo, Marvin Markus comes up with new "marked-to-market" plan

May 18, 2015 09:00AM

From left: Tenant advocates rally against 421a earlier this year, Marvin Markus and Bill de Blasio

From left: Tenant advocates rally against 421a, Marvin Markus and Bill de Blasio

With only 27 days left until the 421a tax abatement and rent regulation laws expire on June 15, former Rent Guidelines Board chair Marvin Markus has inked a memo with some big ideas.

Markus, who served as chair for 13 years and is now a managing director at Goldman Sachs, called for the end of vacancy decontrol, Capital New York reported.

Markus proposed a “marked-to-market” system, under which all vacated apartments would be turned into market-rate apartments but would be subject to the rent-controlled annual increases for the duration of a lease. Landlords would support such a plan, while tenant advocates — who would like to see vacancy decontrol scrapped altogether and 421a eliminated — wouldn’t be too pleased.

Markus’ proposal, according to the memo, would eliminate preferential rent, a legal measure under which landlords can charge more than the market rate.

Eliminating preferential rents, vacancy allowances, IAIs and deregulation will remove a costly bureaucratic system which has bogged down the NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the State agency that administers the rent stabilization system, as well as Housing Courts,” Markus wrote in his memo. “It will free up both money and time for owners to focus on maintaining and running their buildings, which is a benefit for not only the owner but also the tenants who reside in these buildings. If a vacancy ‘marked-to-market’ approach was adopted, the issue of affordability is still a factor.” [Marvin Markus’ memo] and [Capital NY] — Claire Moses