While politicians in New York City rush to distance themselves from real estate, one landlord wants to join their ranks.
Daniel Goldstein, managing partner of New York-based rental landlord E&M Management, is running for mayor of Lawrence, a Long Island village.
“I’ve just had enough of the mayor,” said Goldstein. “When he first started, he was all right. Then the power went to his head and he became very arrogant.”
The mayor, Alex Edelman, was elected in 2014. The next year, he appointed Goldstein to Lawrence’s five-member board of trustees, but the two no longer see eye-to-eye, according to sources — notably on a development plan for a four-acre village-owned site.
Edelman declined to comment. The election is in June.
Goldstein remains a trustee in Lawrence, a Nassau County village with a population of 6,483. E&M’s New York offices are also in Lawrence.
Founded by Irving Langer, E&M was once among the largest multifamily landlords in New York City. Goldstein said last year that regulations and tax rates in New York City had led the firm to sell off many of its properties in the five boroughs.
E&M does not have any rental investments in Lawrence, where the median income is $129,609, and less than a quarter of the population making less than $75,000 a year is rent-burdened, according to the 2017 American Community Survey.
More than a two-hour drive north, however, the firm owns more than 850 units in the Kingston area — a portfolio that has caused some controversy.
Before a tenant-friendly rent law passed last year, E&M Management made aggressive investments in New York’s suburbs, most notably in Kingston in the lower Hudson Valley. Soon after purchasing two large rental complexes in the area, E&M began making aesthetic improvements, evicting tenants and charging higher rents. The public backlash culminated in a call for stricter rent regulations.
The firm has four rental complexes in the Kingston area, which faced the possibility of rent regulation when state lawmakers allowed municipalities to opt in if their rental vacancy rate were below 5 percent. Kingston was the first municipality to attempt to do so, but earlier this month a survey found its vacancy rate was 6.7 percent.
Notwithstanding the positive outcome for landlords, Goldstein said the criticism E&M has faced in Kingston is misplaced. E&M is the largest rental landlord in the area, according to Goldstein, and so receives an outsize amount of blame for the rising cost of housing in the area.
“At the end of the day, we’re not the ones that created the problem,” Goldstein said of affordability in Kingston.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Ulster County Planning Department, the percentage of household income used to pay rent in the county is the highest in New York.
Tenant advocates there said E&M rushed to raise rents and renew leases last month at its rental complex while the results of the survey were still uncertain. Goldstein fired back that the increases were modest and had “absolutely nothing” to do with the possibility of rent regulation.
“I would have raised rents $350 if I had been worried about rent stabilization,” Goldstein said, pointing to property taxes as the culprit for the increases. “Lower our taxes $400,000 and we’ll lower the rents $400,000.”
The company is now looking beyond New York for investment opportunities, although Goldstein said it plans to stay focused on the Northeast.