Big Changes in Rent Laws Pass Assembly


Speaker Sheldon Silver has pushed his raft of pro-tenant bills through the State Assembly. Bill A02005 re-regulates apartments that, per a 1974 law, left rent stabilization protection when the rent reached $2,000; now the limit is $5,000 in the city and $3,500 elsewhere in the state. Bill A01686 reduces the allowable rent increase on vacated apartments from 20 to 10 percent (apartments renting for less than $500 and $300 get separate, more generous arrangements). Bill A00860 raises the tenant income level at which deregulation is suspended from $175,000 to $240,000 and pegs future increases in rent to the “regional consumer price index.”

Bill A01685 limits the rights of landlords seeking to take back rental properties for their personal use; they’ll be limited to “only one housing accommodation” on the basis of “immediate and compelling necessity,” and they can’t put out tenants who are over 62 years of age, or have lived in the apartment for twenty years or more, or have certain “anatomical, physiological or psychological conditions” that prevent them from working, unless they provide these tenants with equivalent and nearby housing.

Bill A01688 amends the 1971 Urstadt Law so that it no longer allows the state to supercede local rent laws and ordinances. Bill A00857 prevents landlords who are coverting “limited profit” Mitchell-Lama housing from raising the rents if they’re within the stabilization limits at the time of conversion. Bill A01928 turns “capital improvement” allowances for landlords from added rent to surcharges, to be terminated when the improvements are paid for. Bill A02002 increases the penalties on landlords violating housing department orders or harassing tenants. Bill A00465 stipulates that landlords who charge tenants a “preferential” rent lower than stabilization allows may, as before, bring the rent back up to the stabilization price upon lease renewal, but only if the vacancy that preceded the rental wasn’t due to landlord negligence.

Silver and the bills’ sponsors (overwhelmingly New York City-based assembly members) worked quickly, but in the state senate, where the Democratic margin is smaller and some members haven’t even got their web pages in order, their progress may be slower and suffer changes, if not reversal.