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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 101, no. 22 [2620]: [Articles]: June 1, 1918

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REAL E S TAT E m®m) AND BUILDERS Vol. CI NEW YORK, JUNE 1, 1918 No. 22 Realty Board Ready to Put Down Profiteering Offers Aid in Any Investigation Made by Board of Aldermen of Oppressive Rental Conditions. V ICE-CHAIRMAN MORAN of the Board of Aldermen has introduced a resolution which reads as follows: WHEREAS, Statements and complaints are being made to the effect that the rents of apart¬ ments and flats in this city are being unduly increased, with a resulting hardship in many cases to an already overburdened citizenship; Therefore be it RESOLVED, That the Board of Aldermen here¬ by requests every member of this body to inquire into these conditions in his respective district, and also calls upon the citizens of the city to com¬ municate any information they may have concern¬ ing rent profiteering to the Aldermen of their district to the end that this board may be in a posi¬ tion to determine the necessity of an official investigation by the Board of Aldermen into this important subject. Several persons have expressed concern over this proposal, and have coupled it with a more or less sensational campaign being made by an afternoon newspaper against so-called rent profiteering. The resolution was considered at a meeting of the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of New York, held on Tuesday, May 28, and it was decided to notify the Board of Aldermen that if a committe should be appointed to investigate rent conditions the Real Estate Board of New York would be glad to co-operate to the fullest extent. In relation to this matter the following statement was issued by Richard O. Chittick, Executive Secretary of the Real Estate Board of New York: "The Real Estate Board of New York in ofifering its co-operation to the Board of Aldermen had a very definite object in view. Rents have increased in the past few months. In some cases the increase is slight; in many it represents only a return to the rates obtain¬ able at an earlier period; in some cases the increase has been considerable. There may, of course, be individual cases where the increase has been too great. "But well informed persons do not believe that rent profiteering exists to any appreciable extent. It is well to know that the operating expenses of buildings, just as in other lines of enterprises, have increased greatly. Recent investigations, applying to office build¬ ings and apartment houses, have shown that while gross incomes have increased the increase in operating expenses has left a margin of profit about what it was before the rents were raised. "What the Real Estate Board of New York wishes to make sure of is that any investigation should be thorough and impartial so that the resulting report may be based on actual facts. If there is any extensive rent profiteering the. Real Estate Board of New York is as anxious as any one else to bring it to light. If there is not, the impression already created in the public mind that there is should be removed." Vice-Chairman Robert L. Mpran, of the Board of Alder¬ men, said yesterday: "I was inspired to introduce this resolution in the board because of the many complaints received by President Smith, myself and other members of the board from people in all parts of the city who charged landlords with profiteering and demanding an official in¬ vestigation. "I am in the real estate business myself and therefore know just what the condition is as regards realty. Of course some landlords have raised rents for the purpose of profit. I know of an instance where a man had his furniture in storage because he was unable to secure an apartment in which to iive. Apartments are mighty scarce these days and tenants know this. The man in question ap¬ proached a certain landlord and offered him fifteen dollars more for one of his apartments than the landlord was re¬ ceiving. The latter by various means succeeded in com¬ pelling the tenant of the apartment to vacate and at once leased it to his friend at the increased rental. The landlord then went among his other tenants, told them that he was receiving forty dollars for the apartment just leased as against twenty-five previously and demanded and received increases from the other tenants of from five to twelve dollars an apartment. "As a real estate man myself I know pretty well what it costs to own and maintain property these days, so that I would hesitate to bring about an investigation of a charge of profiteering which is too broad in its scope, but after consultation with President Smith it was decided to put the matter up to the individual aldermen, let them make investigations in their own districts, receive complaints and affidavits and then present them to the Rules Committee for action if such complaints warrant such action." A representative of the real estate firm of Cruikshank & Company of 141 Broadway, which manages many estates, said: "Profiteering? Why owners are lucky now¬ adays if they are able to keep their properties going at all. Take the cost of coal. It is hard to get and when we do succeed in getting any we must pay an increased price and pay extra for hauling it from the yard to the property. Where it used to cost seventy-five-cents for a pane of glass it costs today nearly four dollars by the time it is in, and it is hard to get at any price. Labor is high and the class of labor we are compelled to accept is far below the standard. "Wages were never higher for elevator operators, en¬ gineers, firemen, janitors and others, and it is mighty hard to procure help at all. "Everything pertaining to the maintenance and upkeep of property has advanced, and if the landlord asks the tenant to bear just a little bit of the increased cost he is accused of profiteering. We are not brokers, we manage estates and are in a position to say authoritatively that land¬ lords are facing each month a deficit and the increase in rentals is only to help keep this deficit down." Chairman John P. Leo of the Board of Standards and Appeals who has built many apartments and tenements in New York City, s^jd; "I own twelve apartment