Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bianca can't get no satisfaction or shelter

New York City has this thing called rent stabilization. It is a complex and Byzantine system which was "temporarily" imposed after WWII, when returning GIs increased the demand (and therefore, the going rate of rent) for housing. The regime continues to this day, with the result that a significant number of New Yorkers live in apartments for which they pay far, far below the fair market rental.

Rent-stabilized tenants often go to great lengths to maintain their NYC rent-stabilized apartments. This means keeping the apartment as one's primary residence, which means that people who otherwise would have relocated to Florida (or the Piedmont or who knows where else) frequently travel back to NYC to be physically present in their apartment. And, because one can pass the apartment on to members of one's "family" (including one's homosexual homeboy or lezzie live-in), the stakes are all the greater.

The system, initially concocted as a fix to a housing emergency, is now a permanent fixture in New York City and has transformed the right to a rent-stabilized apartment into an heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation.

The only case I ever had that in any way entailed the NYC Rent Stabilization Code demonstrates the system's absurdity. My client, an kind-hearted elderly woman, had taken in a needy homeless person. Turns out that this "guest" not only stole my client's property, but also physically attacked my client. Another lawyer tried to obtain an order of protection, but this "guest" claimed that because she had lived in a room in my client's apartment for more than 30 consecutive days, she was entitled to a statutory rent-stabilized lease for the room in my client's apartment!

For reasons not relevant here, the guest-cum-assailant finally left my client's apartment. It turns out that claiming a rent-stabilized lease in the apartment of a generous host this was the "guest's" usual modus operandi.

But the system is not in TOTAL dysfunction. Turns out that Bianca Jagger's landlord was able to evict Bianca (and thus rent the apartment to a more remunerative tenant) because Bianca, as an alien on a B-2 tourist visa, cannot claim a primary residence in New York City or anywhere else in America.

The case is Katz Park Ave. Corp. v Jagger, 2007 NY Slip Op 07908 (App.Div., 1st Dept. 2007).

To the Court, I say "Bravissimo!!" But what about all of those who are not B-2 tourists because they are in America illegally? Are the courts going to enforce the law against them, too? Quite frankly, at least Mick Jagger's ex is in America legally.

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