A tentative deal has been reached on rent regulation, but many feel as if Albany simply kicked the can down the road

Stephon Johnson | 6/25/2015, 11:47 a.m.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the renewed rent laws include an increase in the decontrol threshold for vacant ...

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the renewed rent laws include an increase in the decontrol threshold for vacant rent stabilized units. The decontrol threshold is the point where landlords are allowed to put formerly stabilized units on the open market. The current decontrol threshold is $2,500, and the new one would increase by $200 this year.

The new agreement would also increase civil harassment penalties by $1,000 on landlords who harass tenants and extends the Major Capital Improvement amortization period to reduce the overall increase to a tenant’s rent. The MCI would reduce the overall increase in rent for the units.

Also, the 421-a program that gives developers tax breaks if they offer affordable housing units was extended by six months.

“Before 2011, you should know, the pattern was to roll back rent protections every time there was a sunset,” said Cuomo at a news conference. “In 2011, we changed that pattern, actually increasing them, and this is the second time rent protections will actually be increased.”

But advocates hoped that the laws would close the loopholes with vacancy deregulation—loopholes that have resulted in 35,000 apartments being placed on the open market.

“Our worst fears about Governor Cuomo have been confirmed,” said Katie Goldstein, of the Alliance for Tenant Power, in a statement. “He took no action at all to strengthen the rent laws. Cuomo made empty promises and lied repeatedly while helping the Senate Republicans advance a bill that is a massive giveaway to landlords. Cuomo’s Republican deal on rent will harm and endanger countless low-income and working-class households.

“Up to 100,000 rent-regulated apartments will be lost over the next four years because of Cuomo’s Republican deal. This four-year extender does nothing to empower tenants. In fact, it leaves the most vulnerable even more susceptible to landlord harassment and skyrocketing rents.”