New York Rent Laws Expand
June 27, 2011
By Neal Tepel
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Housing Committee Chair Vito Lopez announced passage of legislation to extend the rent laws and expand rent protections for tenants for the first time since 1993. The deal, passed as part of the Affordable Housing Act (A.8518), includes important provisions that increase vacancy decontrol thresholds and provide tenants with enhanced protections.
“Despite fierce and well-financed opposition to working families in New York City, we were able to secure important victories for tenants,” Silver (D-Manhattan) said+. “This measure, while not all that we pushed for, is a huge relief for tenants and a significant improvement over what is currently in place.”
Under the legislation:
• The rent laws are extended for another four years;
• The income threshold for deregulation is raised from $175,000 to $200,000;
• The high rent deregulation threshold is raised from $2,000 to $2,500;
• The amount a landlord can increase rent after a capital improvement to an individual apartment is reduced from 1/40th to 1/60th of the cost of the improvement on buildings with 35 or more units;
• The Department of Housing and Community Renewal’s authority to regulate the provisions of the act will be enhanced; and
• A limit of one vacancy increase is allowed per year.
“There is an affordable housing emergency in the City of New York. Each year, more than 10,000 rent-regulated apartments are lost because of loopholes in the rent laws,” said Lopez (D-Brooklyn). “Yet, throughout the negotiations, the Senate Majority repeatedly insisted on a straight extension of the existing rent laws, something that I and my Assembly Majority colleagues fiercely opposed. Though short of our goal, this agreement is victory for our tenants.”
As the session draws to a close, it appears that the rent laws will be renewed without any weakening amendments, and with several strengthening amendments that will help to ease the incredible displacement pressure felt by many low and moderate income tenants. A recent report by the Community Service Society of New York identified the New York City’s more than one million rent-regulated apartments as the largest source of affordable housing for middle- and low-income New Yorkers. Since 2000, the New York metro area has lost 29 percent of the apartments considered affordable to low-income families, and 12 percent of those considered affordable to middle-income families. The report cites loopholes in the rent laws as the impetus behind the losses.
“Working with Governor Cuomo, we have saved the rent laws and expanded their protections for the first time in nearly two decades,” said Silver. “This is an important victory in our ongoing effort to support working families and ease the affordable housing crisis.”