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know not when they may have to move, have no place to go, lose respect for laws and the courts, which to them seem unable to protect their rights. They readily fall victims to the agitator.

“The inability to build during the war produced the shortage. The high cost of the factors entering into construction deterred the speculative builder from engaging in new operations. The demand for homes exceeded the supply and an active real estate market was developed, supported by few investors, but many rent speculators. Properties were sold and resold within a few months, usually upon the representation that the rents could be substantially increased, and they were substantially increased. Many who could not afford to pay were compelled to do so because, if evicted, they could not obtain other quarters. To meet the increases families took in boarders and doubled up. The 'leaster' appeared. He never sowed,' rarely repaired, always 'reaped' by jacking up rent, and is largely responsible for the oppression practiced."

The result was the legislation of September 27, 1920,passed at a special session of the Legislature called by the Governor for the specific purpose of dealing with the situation. 17

The new statutes enacted,—Chapters 942 to 953, inclusive, Laws of 1920,18—amend, supersede 19 and supple

. ment the April legislation of the same year.

A half year's operation served to reveal numerous inequities, and for the purpose of correcting these, and also to make the legislation a part of the new Civil Practice Act, 20 the following statutes were passed at the spring session of the Legislature in 1921: Chapters 165, on April 8th; 298,

17 The message of the Governor to the Legislature will be found printed in full in the Appellate Division report of the case of Edgar A. Levy Leasing Co. v. Siegel, 194 App. Div. 482, 485, 186 N. Y. Supp. 5, 7.

18 For text of these statutes, see Appendices A and B infra.
18 Levy Leasing Co. v. Siegel, 230 N. Y. 634, at 638.
20 Effective April 15, 1921, operation suspended to October 1, 1921.

on April 21st; 367, on April 30th (to take effect October 1st); 371, on April 30th (to take effect October 1st); 374, on April 30th; 434, on April 30th; 444, on April 30th.21

In enacting the laws which became effective on April 1, 1920, the Legislature in express language found that “a public emergency” existed in its judgment by reason of the fact that "unjust, unreasonable and oppressive agreements for the payment of rent” had been and were being “exacted by landlords from tenants under stress of prevailing conditions whereby the freedom of contract has been impaired and congested housing conditions resulting therefrom have seriously affected and endangered the public welfare, health and morals in certain cities of the State." 22

In convening the Legislature in Special Session in September, 1920, the Governor of the State in his message to the Legislature on September 20, 1920, said:

“I have exercised the power vested in me by the Constitution to call the Legislature into extraordinary session because I am convinced that an emergency confronts the State." 23

It is contended by many that no emergency existed and that the public health was not endangered. They point to the fact that the Department of Health of the City of New York stated that the health of the City for the first ten months of the year 1920 had been “exceptionally good,' 24 and that the death rate for the year 1920 was

21 These statutes will be found printed in Appendices A and B infra. 22 Chap. 136 of the Laws of 1920, $ 1.

23 The meassge is printed in full in the report of the Appellate Division decision of the case of Edgar A. Levy Leasing Co. v. Siegel, 194 App. Div. 482, 485, 186 N. Y. S. 5, 7.

24 Weekly Bulletin of the Health Dept. for Nov, 27, 1920,

11.93 for each 1,000 of the population, compared with 12.39 for the year 1919.25

They also call attention to increased costs of labor and material and refer to the report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing. 26 This report shows that the daily wage of carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, painters and laborers increased between the years 1913 and 1920 from 100% to 150%. 27

This report further shows an increase from pre-war prices in building material, such as brick, cement, lath, lumber and roofing, of more than 250%.28

Such increases naturally would affect the cost of new building operations. This is made evident by the following figures from the report. 29

Standard City Schools of the

Same Size and Type of Construction.
March, 1915, Public School 93 cost $267,600
March, 1919, Public School 129 cost 463,916

March, 1920, Public School 181 cost 822,000 The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor has published a pamphlet showing the changes in living costs since 1914.30

Among the items concerning which statistics are given is the item of rentals. These statistics cover thirty-two cities scattered throughout the United States and are based upon figures for from 200 to 500 houses and apartments in each city covered. The increases in rentals were general

25 Health Dept. Report, published in N. Y. Times for Jan. 1, 1921.
3 Sept. 20, 1920 Report.
27 Report, page 10.

Report, page 14.
29 P. 10.
30 See Real Estate Record & Guide for April 30, 1921, page 553.


throughout the United States, but more pronounced from June, 1919, to December, 1920.

The average increase in rentals in the thirty-two cities from 1913 to December, 1920, was 51.1 per centum. The per centage of increase in rentals in New York City from December, 1914, to December, 1920, was 38.1%. In seventeen of the thirty-two cities, the New York City percentage of increase was exceeded, the highest percentage of increase being Detroit with 108.1.31

For the same period, the same report shows the percentage increases in the cost of the following items:food, 78%, clothing, 158.5%, fuel and light, 94.9%; furniture and furnishings, 185.4%; and miscellaneous items, 108.2%. During the same period, the average rental cost was 13.4% of the total living cost in thirty-two cities in the United States, whereas in the City of New York, the rentals averaged 14.3% of the total living expenses.

In New York City the percentage of increase in rents from December, 1914, to

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Commenting on these statistics the "Real Estate Record and Guide” stated editorially, "it would seem that New York landlords have been actually modest in the demands

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31 Published in the “ New York Times,” May 1, 1921.

32 Extract of Pamphlet of Bureau of Labor Statistics of U. S. Dept. of Labor, printed in “Real Estate Record and Guide" for April 30, 1921.


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made upon their tenants, 33 and again, as follows 34:“Widespread interest has been attracted by the official fig

showing that rental increases in New York City since 1914 amounted to only 38.1 per cent as compared with an average increase of 51.1 per cent in thirty-two leading cities of the United States. Tenants and politicians had raised such a clamor as to create the general impression that New York landlords were a lot of piratical profiteers. The official figures ... prove conclusively that this clamor was without justification and that the increase in rentals here was much lower than in a majority of other cities.”

The article concludes :

“If New York tenants could work up such a clamor against an average increase of 38.1 per cent in rentals in New York City, what would have happened if the increase here had been 80 per cent as it was in Cleveland, or 108.1 per cent, as it was in Detroit? " 35

This matter may well be summarized in the language of Judge Pound, in rendering the decision of the Court of

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33 See issue of May 7, 1921.
34 See again issue of April 30, 1921.
36 The article refers to statements of “prominent realty leaders" as follows:

As Mr. J. Clarence Davies declares—"The action of the vast majority of New York landlords has been as fair and just as circumstances would allow.” Mr. Charles F. Noyes adds interest to the discussion by calling attention to the fact that rentals have always been and were during the recent period of higher costs the last to advance. Mr. Edwin E. Zittel feels that the figures published tell the landlords' side of the case beyond refutation and prove that New York landlords as a whole have acted honestly in the crisis.

Mr. F. S. Bancroft regrets that these illuminating figures did not develop sooner for then, as he observes, perhaps landlords would have had at least half a chance with tenants and legislators.

Mr. J. H. Ward declares that these figures refute the statements and the general belief that apartment-house owners in New York as a class have

ulcted the public on rents. The average, as he adds, shows that most landlords in this city have been fair.

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