Real Rent Reform Campaign
Housing Here and Now
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development
Working Families Party
NO MORE DELAYS – STRONGER RENT LAWS NOW!
May 6, 2009
Between now and June 22, the New York State Legislature must enact a number of necessary reforms to undo years of legislative giveaways to the New York City real estate lobby that have exacerbated the housing crisis in the city and suburban counties. While there are many important pro-tenant bills pending in both houses, the following represent the absolute minimum of necessary reform. This year. Not next year.
Full Repeal of Vacancy Decontrol
S2237-A (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)/A2005 (Linda Rosenthal et al.)
This bill repeals vacancy decontrol, which has already cost New York City and the suburban counties of Nassau, Westchester and Rockland Counties an estimated 300,000 apartments that have been removed from rent and eviction protections and are no longer affordable. The bill also re-regulates 90 to 95 percent of the apartments that have been lost to vacancy decontrol in the last 15 years.
Adequate protections for former Mitchell-Lama & Section 8 Tenants
S3326 (Andrea Stewart-Cousins, et al.)
This bill provides for rent stabilization coverage for all Mitchell-Lama and project-based Section 8 buildings that leave or have left those government-supervised programs, regardless of when constructed or first occupied. The bill further prohibits landlords of newly rent-stabilized buildings from seeking rent increases under the “unique or peculiar circumstances” loophole. This is the only bill providing for rent regulation coverage of post-1973 buildings that have already left Mitchell-Lama or Section 8 and did not then become rent regulated.
Reform Major Capital Improvement Rent Increase System
S745-A (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A1928 (Daniel O’Donnell, et al.)
This bill makes rent increases for building-wide Major Capital Improvements temporary surcharges, so that once tenants have paid off the cost of the MCIs, the rent increase disappears. The MCI rent increase must be listed as a separate surcharge on the rent bill, rather than being compounded with the base rent.
Reform Individual Apartment Improvement Rent Increase System
S5296 (Daniel Squadron, et al.)/A5316 (Sheldon Silver, et al.)
This bill makes three necessary and reasonable reforms that address the key problems in the 1/40th rent increase loophole: (1) it lengthens the amortization period for such rent increases from 40 months to 84 months, thus bringing it into line with the MCI program. (2) It allows direct agency oversight of such rent increases to discourage fraud. (3) It strengthens tenant notification to improve oversight.
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Reform Owner Use Evictions Loophole
S2642 (Daniel Squadron, et al.)/A1685 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill closes one of the worst loopholes in the New York City Rent Stabilization Law of 1969, which allows landlords to recover “one or more” apartments for occupancy by the landlord or a member of the landlord’s family, and has been used to empty entire buildings. This bill limits recovery to one apartment, and requires the landlord to demonstrate “immediate and compelling necessity” as in NYC rent control and suburban rent control and rent stabilization laws.
Reform Preferential Rent Loophole
A465 (Hakeem Jeffries, et al.)
This bill closes another bad loophole that allows a landlord of a rent-stabilized unit to rent to a new tenant at a “preferential” rent lower than the legal rent, then later offer the tenant a renewal lease based on the legal rent, hitting tenants with huge rent increases, sometimes several hundred dollars, often forcing them to vacate. The landlord then collects another 20 percent statutory vacancy bonus and engages in this scam all over again with a new tenant, while steadily moving the legal rent closer to the $2,000 per month threshold for vacancy decontrol. A465 allows the landlord to revert to the higher legal rent upon vacancy, but requires that the lease be renewed based on the lower preferential rent.
Reduce the Statutory Vacancy Bonus
A1686 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill reduces the statutory vacancy bonus from a minimum of 20 percent for a two-year vacancy lease to a minimum of 10 percent, and limits collection of the bonus to once a year.
Moratorium on Mitchell-Lama Buyouts
S2171 (Thomas Duane, et al.)/A6706 (Jonathan Bing, et al.)
This bill imposes an 18-month moratorium on Mitchell-Lama buyouts of rentals and coops, and requires DHCR to prepare a report to the Legislature with recommendations for how to preserve Mitchell-Lama housing.
Reform the NYC and Suburban Rent Boards
(To be introduced by Thomas Duane and George Latimer)
This bill restructures the four rent guidelines boards in NYC and the three suburban counties (originally designed by the real estate industry itself) to level the playing field and give tenants at least a chance of fair rent adjustments. Among the most important changes is a requirement for City Council approval of appointments by NYC mayor.
Restore Full Home Rule to New York City
S749 (Liz Krueger, et al.)/A1688 (Vito Lopez et al.)
This bill repeals the so-called Urstadt Law of 1971, named for Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s housing commissioner Charles J. Urstadt, and by doing so restores full home rule powers over rent and eviction laws to the New York City Council and Mayor.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Housing Here and Now (212) 979-6238 ext. 204
Real Rent Reform Campaign (212) 608-4320 ext. 316