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NY Lawmakers Reach Deal On Tenant Protections

New York state and local leaders joined recreation enthusiasts at the capitol Thursday to recognize the area’s biking, hiking and walking trails and call for more options.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
New York State Capitol

Legislative leaders in Albany agreed Tuesday to tighten tenant protections for millions of New York City apartment dwellers and authorized cities around the state to craft their own restrictions on rents.

The agreement, announced by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, comes just days before the previous rules were set to expire. It includes new restrictions on how much the rent can be increased in units covered by the regulations and would put an end to a landlord's ability to remove a unit from rent stabilization based on a tenant's income.

The deal, which is expected to go to a vote in the Legislature this week, comes after much haggling but includes a provision to prevent such fights in the future: It would make the rules permanent and not subject to regular renewal by lawmakers.

The state law governing rent control and rent stabilization rules protecting tenants in older, multi-unit apartment buildings in and around New York City is set to expire Saturday. The rules control how much a landlord may raise the rent and also restrict evictions.

The rules are cherished by many residents, bemoaned by the city's powerful real estate industry and the subject of lore by those in search of that rare gem: an affordable apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the country. The move to allow other cities in New York state to institute similar rules comes as high rents and the high cost of living, in general, have become points of contention in many cities across the country.

"These reforms give New Yorkers the strongest tenant protections in history," Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, and Heastie, D-The Bronx. "For too long, power has been tilted in favor of landlords and these measures finally restore equity and extends protections to tenants across the state."

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet weighed in on the proposal. Earlier Tuesday he said he would sign whatever agreement the Legislature could reach.

"Stop talking, stop pontificating, pass a bill," he said on public radio Tuesday morning.

The real estate industry-backed group Taxpayers for an Affordable New York said the legislation would lead to "disinvestment in the city's private-sector rental stock" and deteriorating conditions for tenants.

"It is now up to the governor to reject this deal in favor of responsible rent reform that protects tenants, property owners, building contractors and our communities," the group said in a statement on Twitter.

But housing advocates hailed the agreement.

"The Senate and the Assembly have come together with a proposal to confront decades of injustice caused by inadequate tenants' rights in New York state," Cea Weaver, campaign coordinator of the Housing Justice for All.

© The Associated Press 2019. All Rights Reserved.