State Assembly Approves Stronger Rent Regulations, Tenant Protections
The Democrat-controlled New York State Assembly recently approved legislation to extend and strengthen rent regulations, setting up a battle with the Republican-controlled State Senate. The Assembly’s bill would extend city rent regulations—which expire in June—for another four years. Speaker Carl Heastie (D) praised the legislation as combating “ever-increasing rents” through measures that include the repeal of vacancy decontrol and limiting rent increases associated with building or apartment improvements.
Under the proposed legislation, rental increases implemented through major capital improvements (MCIs) and individual apartment improvements (IAIs) would be separately designated as surcharges. No further rent increases would be permitted after owners recover the cost of the improvements.
Owners would also be barred from adjusting preferential rent upon lease renewal, while vacancy allowances that allow owners to hike rent by 20 percent upon a tenant leaving would be reduced to 7.5 percent. The Assembly’s bill also cracks down on owners who harass tenants in order to get them to vacate rent-regulated apartments. The bill would make landlord harassment of a rent-regulated tenant a class A misdemeanor and increase civil penalties.
Senate Republicans are unlikely to go along with many of the Assembly’s provisions. However, Senate Republicans have not offered a counterproposal even though Senate Leader John Flanagan recently identified rent control as a key issue that deserved careful attention.
Assembly Speaker Heastie suggested that talks to extend rent regulations would eventually be linked with other issues sought by Senate Republicans, including extension of the state’s cap on property tax increases and renewal of the 421-a real estate tax abatement program favored by developers.
The renewal of the regulations could be tied to the extension of a cap on property taxes. The Senate voted recently to make the property tax cap permanent. The details of a compromise will be negotiated as lawmakers work toward the end of their annual session. The rent regulation law expires June 15.